Deviant Detectives in the Scandinavian Welfare State: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Bridge

  • Jakob Stougaard-NielsenEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Crime, Media and Culture book series (PSCMC)


Stougaard-Nielsen explores how the deviant, female detective in Scandinavian crime fiction is used to engage audiences in considerations of social trust and equality in the contemporary welfare state. Drawing on examples of neurodiverse detectives in Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the TV serial The Bridge, the chapter focuses on fictional representations of autism and considers the apparent paradox that socially dysfunctional and non-empathetic detectives, such as Lisbeth Salander and Saga Norén, have become globally celebrated as heroines who embody social justice and egalitarianism. Stougaard-Nielsen argues that to understand the appeal of the deviant detective, we need to understand their representation with a more nuanced notion of empathy and in the context of an ethos of statist individualism inherent to the Scandinavian welfare state.


Scandinavian crime fiction Autism Post-welfare state Empathy Lisbeth Salander Saga Norén 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of European Languages, Culture and SocietyUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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