Towards completion of each year, Dansk Sprognævn (the Danish Language Council) and P1 radio station choose Denmark’s word of the year. Undoubtedly recording the (in some cases uncomplimentary) state of mind of the times, previous winners have actually consisted of klimatosse (” environment moron”) in 2019 and hvidvask (” cash laundering”) in 2018.
An early competitor for 2020’s title is definitely samfundssind, which the Danish Language Council specifies as “putting the issue of society greater than one’s own interests”. More loosely equated as “neighborhood spirit” or “social mindedness”, samfundssind has actually ended up being the buzzword of the coronavirus crisis: by browsing a database of Danish news, the language council discovered that use of “samfundssind” increased from simply 23 times in February to 2,855 in March.
” There is a strong custom of neighborhood spirit in Denmark,” stated Eva Skafte Jensen, senior scientist at the Danish Language Council. “In the 19th Century, this was seen in the method individuals in the countryside developed andelsbevægelsen (co-operatives) concentrated on typical objectives. Dairy farmers would collaborate to fund collectively owned dairies [and] farmers and other nation individuals would form customer co-ops, hence preventing the monopoly of personal merchants of groceries … This concept was likewise brought into the employees’ motions where it assisted to develop strong unions.”
Samfundssind has actually ended up being the buzzword of the coronavirus crisis
Likewise associated is the 19th-Century facility of højskole ( folk schools), which intended to provide rural individuals a non-formal education in excellent citizenship– and still exist today. It was this association with folk schools, co-operatives and the employee’s motion, “when individuals gathering attained more than the person,” Jensen thinks, that assisted samfundssind end up being a 2020 buzzword– as did its pointed usage by the existing prime minister.
Early in the crisis, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen appealed straight to Danes’ samfundssind. “We need to stand together by keeping our range,” she stated at a press conference on 11 March as the nation locked down, among the very first in Europe to do so. “We require neighborhood spirit. We require aid. I want to thank … all who have actually up until now revealed that this is precisely what we have in Denmark– samfundssind.”
Danes reacted enthusiastically. Personal business assisted alleviate pressure on health care services by obtaining medical devices through the Denmark Helping Denmark project– the reaction to which revealed “amazing goodwill and neighborhood spirit,” according to the Danish Medicines Company’s Director General Thomas Senderovitz.
Numerous of Denmark most-loved tourist attractions likewise stepped up: the Lego factory started making visors for health care employees; theme park Tivoli Gardens became a short-lived kindergarten, with social distancing standards in location; and double Michelin-starred Alchemist rotated from serving unique 50-course tasting menus to cooking pasta for 12 homeless shelters around Copenhagen. In addition to appearing frequently in the news, the word has actually multiplied as a social media hashtag highlighting acts of uniformity and generosity. However possibly most significantly, daily individuals revealed neighborhood spirit by following the guidelines.
In her speech, Frederiksen stressed the requirement to follow federal government standards, and to begin as quickly as possible. Danes mainly complied without a difficulty. Observing that day cares and schools were cleared the early morning after the statement, 4 days prior to the steps entered into impact, associate teacher David Olagnier and teacher Trine H Mogensen from the Department of Biomedicine at Aarhus University, wrote that this highlights that “the Danes have a strong sense of social duty for their neighborhood.”
Olagnier and Mogensen likewise observed that, “Denmark is a nation where trust controls whatever.” So, does the secret to samfundssind lie with the easy reality that Danes trust their federal government, and one another, to do the best thing?
Social trust promotes cooperation, composed Kim Mannemar Sønderskov, teacher of Government at Aarhus University, and Peter Thisted Dinesen, teacher of Government at the University of Copenhagen, ina 2014 paper The authors discovered that the level of social rely on Denmark is amongst the greatest worldwide and, furthermore, that it considerably increased over the 30-year duration in between 1979 and 2009. “In 1979, 47% of Danes revealed that ‘the majority of people can be relied on’, whereas this share had actually increased to 79% in 2009.” The authors associate this partially to “enhanced quality of state organizations, and a concomitant boost in residents’ rely on these organizations”.
The anti-corruption NGO Transparency International releases a yearly ranking of the world’s least-corrupt countries This year, Denmark topped the table, connected with New Zealand. With an accountable federal government, political leaders in Denmark delight in a fairly high level of trust. When political leaders “act in an incorrupt way,” compose Sønderskov and Dinesen, “they send out the signal that … the majority of people can be relied on.”
Numerous visitors to Denmark remark upon experiencing a level of rely on the nation that is seldom seen somewhere else. Driving around backwoods in the summertime, for instance, you’ll likely find ignored roadside stalls offering farm produce with just a sincerity box to gather payment. It’s not unusual, either, to see prams with sleeping children inside parked outside dining establishments or coffee shops: a commonly reported story from 1997, when a Danish lady was jailed throughout a check out to New york city City for leaving her baby outside a dining establishment, highlights this culture clash. The ease with which moms and dads can leave kids ignored in Denmark is an item of a society that is less distressed about its fellow residents. In 2016, the Ministry of Culture held a public vote to choose the country’s official values: trust was figured out to be among the most crucial. “The Danish culture of trust is based upon an expectation that a person’s fellow residents and public organizations are reputable,” mentioned the Ministry.
It’s an observation that Matt Orlando, the American-born chef and owner of Amass, another of Copenhagen’s leading dining establishments, has actually shared. “The quantity of control and rely on federal government has actually been incredible,” he stated, assessing his experience of the pandemic in Denmark. “In the sense that society has actually kept itself under control, due to the fact that of the trust of the federal government: in the trust of the choices being made [and] the openness of whatever.”
The word has actually multiplied as a social networks hashtag highlighting acts of uniformity and generosity
Orlando is among those who are taking in the spirit of samfundssind into their post-pandemic lives. Together with others in the dining establishment market, he formed Bowline, a collective platform focused on enhancing and supporting the dining establishment neighborhood through the crisis and beyond. His great dining restaurant has actually likewise ended up being more neighborhood minded by devoting half its dining area to Amass Fried Chicken & Wine, which serves more friendly food at a lower cost.
Individuals who move to Denmark from somewhere else rapidly end up being knowledgeable about among the clearest examples of social rely on Denmark: its notorious tax rates. Danish citizens accept a few of the world’s greatest taxes in the self-confidence that, by everybody paying their reasonable share, tax cash will be put to excellent usage for the typical social excellent– universal health care, complimentary university tuition and generous maternal and paternal leave, to call simply a couple of examples. A culture where everybody is well taken care of fosters trust and a sense of all remaining in it together. A sense of equality is likewise crucial. Denmark, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), has among the most affordable levels of earnings inequality worldwide. Sønderskov and Dinesen compose that “residents in more financially equivalent societies likewise tend to have greater levels of trust. This is described by a more powerful sense of neighborhood amongst residents.”
Greatly subsidised through taxes, Danish day care centres promote social mindedness early in life. “Nearly everybody goes to public day care in Denmark,” stated Kay Xander Mellish, author of the books How to Reside in Denmark and How to Operate in Denmark. “Even Prince Christian, the future King Christian XI, went to public day care.” Every kid born in Denmark is ensured a location in day care from 6 months to 6 years of age where the focus is on playing and hanging out– official education does not start up until age 8 or 9.
A culture where everybody is well taken care of fosters trust and a sense of all remaining in it together
” In the very first couple of years,” stated Mellish, “kids find out the standard guidelines for working as a society. They find out how to sit at a table at lunch time, wait up until it is their rely on be served, and feed themselves. In the play ground, they invest the majority of their time in “complimentary play”, in which they comprise guidelines for their own video games.”
Personnel normally do not lead play, she described, which “permits the kids to form their own groups and find out how to interact by themselves.” Typically, Mellish included, schools begin the day by singing a tune together from the popular Højskolesangbogen, (the Folk High School Songbook), a cultural custom that reaches universities, workplaces and, on Wednesday early mornings,Copenhagen Main Library Singing together is a huge part of life for Danes of any ages, as anybody who’s checked out at summer or Christmas time understands well. Morgensang, common early morning singing, is cherished for the sensation of togetherness and uniformity it promotes, specifically throughout difficult times, which describes why, throughout lockdown, a fifth of the country tuned in to sign up with the conductor Philip Faber in a day-to-day telecasted common sing-along.
” The concept that they become part of a neighborhood is impressed on Danes at a really young age,” Mellish stated. “You can frequently win an argument in Denmark by recommending that your challenger is usolidarisk or “revealing an absence of uniformity”.
Denmark was the very first in Europe to reopen schools and day care centres in mid-April. The variety of Covid-19 deaths in Denmark stands at under 700 sometimes of composing and, in spite of an early-autumn rise, infection rates stay reasonably low. The nation’s long custom of putting society over self-interest– of thinking about the neighborhood more powerful than the person– appears to have actually been its strength.
Why We Are What We Are is a BBC Travel series taking a look at the qualities of a nation and examining whether they hold true.
If you liked this story, sign up for the weekly bbc.com features newsletter called “The Vital List”. A handpicked choice of stories from BBC Future, Culture, Worklife and Travel, provided to your inbox every Friday.