Beyond the Good State: Scientific Internationalism and the Nordic Model

Marjo Koivisto

in Normative State Power in International Relations

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199652792
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745270 | DOI:
Beyond the Good State: Scientific Internationalism and the Nordic Model

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This chapter argues that accounts of Nordic states as ‘good states’, or as ‘norm entrepreneurs’, pay insufficient attention to the politics of transforming the institutional structures of the Nordic empires from the turn of the 20th century to welfare states since the 1930s. To provide a novel, institutionalist alternative, the chapter provides a historical narrative of the Nordic model as a scientific internationalist project. The chapter contrasts existing accounts of the birth of the Nordic model focused on the model being a victory of ‘labour power’ over industries, business and state elite in showing all the above shared a commitment to scientific planning of organisational arrangements in global politics. Not only were these ideas shared nationally, but they emerged from liberal internationalist transnational networks focused on economic reform and the building of international organizations from the late 19th century to the 1960s. These networks were distinct from the development of the nationalist projects in different Nordic countries, and were importantly American in origin. In turn, scientific internationalist projects could only have been successful in the context of the strong Nordic state infrastructures and organizations which result from past empires, the early unison of the state and the church, and the limited experience with constitutional liberal democracy in the region.

Keywords: scientific internationalism; universalism; epistemic culture; America; Norden; networks

Chapter.  15836 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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