Om gemenskap: En sociologisk betraktelse

Anders P Lundberg

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


Various reports have stated that the traditional Swedish popular movements (e.g. the Workers movement and the Free church movement) are loosing ground. Instead of joining a political party or a church, politically or religiously active individuals are said to seek out new and individualized ways of being involved.

This thesis studies a number of men and women that persist in being communally involved within the traditional movements (as above). It asks questions such as "What does their involvement look like?" "How important is a sense of belonging for being involved?" "To what extent is it possible to be an autonomous individual while being communally active?" "What difficulties do they encounter, as related to the problem of individualism and community?" "How do they solve these problems?"

To aid in an understanding of the conditions for communal involvement in a post- or late modern era, the thesis employs two different (partially opposed) theoretical schools: post modernism and communitarianism. Drawing from these schools, while at the same time presuming an intimate knowledge of the traditional Swedish popular movements (folkrörelserna), the writer constructs two ideal typical concepts: stable community (resembling the communitarian vision) and casual community (resembling the post modernist vision). These ideal types are employed to create an understanding of the conditions for community and communal involvement today.

Empirically, a number of strategies are found among the interviewees in order to keep up their involvement. These include: a privatization of ideology; an effort to make a professional career within the movement; the phenomenon of nonprofit professionals; an effort to view involvement as a gain for the personal life project; to view life as a series of stages where it is possible to step in and out of involvement at different times during a life course; to keep organizational structures at the back, letting them promote affinity and affection among individuals rather than being in focus themselves.

Also empirically, this thesis shows how involvement among the interviewees resembles what the author labels stable community. It shows the perceived importance of relations of trust, emanating from stable community. It also shows though, a tendency (primarily among those active within the Free church) to expect too much of the relations within a community: rather, it would be necessary to realize the importance of other types of relations (i.e. elective affinity, a relation typically emanating from casual community; but also what the author labels friendship) for keeping the fire burning. Also, there is a tendency (primarily within the Workers movement) to invite too many new individuals too fast into the group of active individuals. Trust (stable community) takes time to create: when rushed, a sense of belonging may be missing, possibly leaving members embittered and disillusioned.
Original languageSwedish
Awarding Institution
  • Sociology
  • Esseveld, Johanna, Supervisor
  • Heidegren, Carl-Göran, Supervisor
Award date2005 Sep 23
ISBN (Print)91-7267-193-9
Publication statusPublished - 2005

Bibliographical note

Defence details
Date: 2005-09-23
Time: 10:15
Place: Spoletorps Hörsal Spolegatan 1 R Lund
External reviewer(s)
Name: Repstad, Pål
Title: Professor
Affiliation: Högskolen i Agder

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)


  • Casual ommunity
  • Stable community
  • Trust
  • Religion
  • Politics
  • Voluntary involvement
  • Community
  • Friendship
  • Sociology

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