Hygge, Hope and Higher Education: A Case Study of Denmark
Higher education institutions have been profoundly reshaped by processes associated with neoliberalism. In this chapter, Larsen outlines the ways in which Denmark has ushered in market-driven reforms to the Danish higher education system to enhance their institutional competitiveness over the past 30 years. Research on the impacts of neoliberal higher education reforms on faculty is reviewed and the author discusses her experiences (at a Canadian university) with market-driven, accountability reforms. The chapter shifts direction and provides the reader with an overview of the concept of hygge, an idealized Danish term that has connotations of coziness, safety, friendliness, and intimacy. Larsen recounts her experiences as a Canadian academic on sabbatical at a Danish university in 2017, illustrating the ways in which she experienced hygge in the Danish university setting. In the final section of the chapter, Larsen argues that hygge can be viewed as a retreat from the individualism, competition, market stratification and other challenges associated with neoliberalism. Hygge marks out the boundaries between the cold and heartless market-place and the warm and cozy home, and despite critiques that is instantiates exclusions, hygge offers hope to resist the alienation associated with neoliberalism and provide an alternative ethos for close and safe social relations within academia.
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