Inside the Danes? – New book attempts to give outsiders the inside view

“Living In Denmark” by Birgitte Sonne Kristensen, Morten Pedersen and Anni Gram is a book where the photographs capture snapshots of the mundane. It’s a refreshing change from the often saccharine portrayal of Denmark as a utopia.

By Louise Chamberlain

A common observation amongst expats in Denmark is how difficult it is to really get to know our Danish neighbours.

Are they really as happy as the Carlsberg adverts would have us believe?

Danish society appears to be full of contradictions. Family life and a healthy work-life balance seem to be core values but Danish children spend most of their days in institutions and Denmark has one of the highest divorce rates in Europe.

If you’re a fan of the Scandinavian noir crime TV shows and books, you could be forgiven for assuming that Denmark is a pretty dangerous place to live. However, there were 33 murders in the whole of Denmark in 2016; “The Bridge” clocked up more than that in series 2 alone!

For anyone who wants an intimate insight into the country’s culture, a new book featuring twenty portraits of the everyday life of Danes digs beneath the surface and breaks down some of the Scandi stereotypes.

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“Living In Denmark” presents a series of very personal portraits collected over a five-year period.

Each portrait tackles a particular theme, including relationships, childhood, politics and religion, with a detailed interview followed by a statistical summary of that aspect of Danish society.

We learn about how Jette and Claus keep their relationship fresh, that one in four children above the age of eleven has parents who don’t live together and what motivates 23-year-old Isak to stand for political office.

The book features people from across the socio-economic and political spectrum. It gives a real sense of what it means to be Danish.

As coffee table books go, the cover of the book is uninspiring.

However, it reflects the fact that this is a book about the ordinary everyday lives of Danes rather than just another tourist guide to Denmark.

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Inside the book, the photographs capture snapshots of the mundane. People cooking, shopping, working, gardening and watching TV. It’s a refreshing change from the often saccharine portrayal of Denmark as a utopia.

Interested in more culture articles? Check-out our article on the unknown aspects of HYGGE in our interview with Denmark’s Hygge expert. Read More.