Company Visit: Dagens Samhälle

The first company visit of our Scandinavian journey was to Dagens Samhalle, a news publication both in print and online. Chief Editor, Olov Carlsson provided us with the history of his publication and a current snapshot of the sensibilities of the Swedish people. Some key characteristics of Swedes are a strong individualism, unimportance of religion, and weak family ties. Other than being individualistic, Swedish people are quite different than Americans.

Especially in today’s world Sweden’s commitment to Freedom of the Press makes them stand out amongst a barrage of “Fake News.” Carlsson made a point to explain the significance of the year 1766 in Sweden. That year the world’s first declaration of freedom of the press was instituted and is a cornerstone for Swedish society. The foundations for modern Swedish society were put in place by Axel Oxenstierna, a Swedish statesman in the 1600’s. Oxenstierna is considered to be one of the most influential people in Swedish history. He is also credited for his role in forming the modern structure of government in Sweden, and the role model for modern civil servants. This foundation has lead to an extremely open society, and one of the least corrupt in the world.

While healthcare and education are free in Sweden, and paid for by high taxes, there are debates into whether privatization of these industries will be helpful or harmful to Sweden. 17% of the healthcare market is currently privatized and has led to an increase in elderly care. Other benefits of privatization of healthcare are the increased use of artificial intelligence in services such as app based digital psychologists.

A pressing issue at the moment however is Sweden’s need for more people in their workforce. Sweden is currently at its lowest level of unemployment, and the workforce is unable to grow. Until very recently Swedish society was extremely accepting of allowing immigrants into the country. There is now a minority which is pushing back against allowing immigrants in, however immigrants are a necessary component to feeding the demand of the workforce. Artificial intelligence is another solution for the lack of labor supply in Sweden, and is becoming more commonly used, as in the example of the digital psychologist.

Carlsson believes Swedish society will maintain their commitment to a free press and an uncorrupted government, but with the face of media in the world shifting from news outlets to social media outlets such as Facebook, only time will tell if Sweden will resist the deception of fake news.