Kinda — 3 Comments

  1. Hi! (As is tra­di­tion in the ancient art of Youtube, I will claim 'FIRST!!!!' for my com­ment) I live in the Mac-Grov­e­land Neigh­bor­hood (born and raised).
    I noticed right off the bat that you had cat­e­go­rized Min­neso­ta Nice in near­ly the exact same terms as Jan­teloven, or the Law of Jante, which is a usu­al­ly-Scan­di­na­vian soci­o­log­i­cal struc­ture where the basic ten­ant is "You (the indi­vid­ual) are not as impor­tant as us (the group)". Jan­teloven sti­fles cre­ativ­i­ty and indi­vid­u­al­ism because per­son­al suc­cess might make oth­ers feel bad and break the sense of com­mu­ni­ty. You're not sup­posed to stand out but instead have to uphold everyone's val­ues. Open dis­agree­ment is frowned upon (pas­sive-aggres­sive­ness rules here) because you're imply­ing that your opin­ion is more valid, which is pride­ful. Janteloven's cer­tain­ly relat­ed to Min­neso­ta Nice; after all, a huge per­cent­age of ear­ly set­tlers were Scan­di­na­vian. In some ways MN Nice is just anoth­er form of Jan­teloven which has been tapered with some Amer­i­can-Dreamy-indi­vid­u­al­ism. But not too much, because that might make the neigh­bors feel bad.
    Jan­teloven does make sense in cer­tain ways, though, his­tor­i­cal­ly speak­ing- in an extreme cli­mate like Nor­way or Min­neso­ta, com­mu­ni­ties have to be tight-knit or every­one would starve or freeze to death.

  2. Thanks so much Addie! Fas­ci­nat­ing tip on Jan­teloven. I spent a hap­py hour read­ing about the con­cept and its close cor­re­lates in oth­er nations, includ­ing "The nail that sticks up gets ham­mered down" (Japan) and "Tall Pop­py Syn­drome" (Hawaii). The fact that the native Hawai­ian cul­ture has devel­oped a sim­i­lar group-first, indi­vid­ual-last stance argues against its ori­gin in the rig­ors of a hos­tile envi­ron­ment (e.g. win­ter). I believe that the Law of Jante is one extreme of a polar­i­ty com­mon to all human pop­u­la­tions: cul­tures find a bal­ance, per­haps a broad or a shift­ing one, in the spec­trum from col­lec­tivism to indi­vid­u­al­ism.

  3. I'm sur­pris­ing­ly proud (iron­ic, isn't it, based on the con­text) that you men­tioned me in a lat­er post! Also I'm glad you were inter­est­ed by the con­cept! I won­der, though, since Japan and Hawaii are both island nations (which both have vol­ca­noes btw) which by nature lim­its the pop­u­la­tion by a cer­tain amount (until the industrial/​second agri­cul­tur­al rev­o­lu­tions, but I'm get­ting ahead of myself) if that affects the val­ue sys­tem. Like, Jan­teloven devel­oped from harsh iso­lat­ed envi­ron­ments while Tall Pop­py Syn­drome devel­oped from need­ing every­one to not over­achieve lest every­one starve? I dun­no, but it's a cool the­o­ry. (Also, it inter­ests me that Hawaii has that social focus — nor­mal­ly one thinks of Hawaii as a laid-back par­adise, right? Guess they'd get along with Min­nesotans if the cold didn't make us so depressed.) The oppo­site side of the Individual/​Collective scale would I sup­pose be more embod­ied by Ger­many or Amer­i­ca (which also makes sense see­ing as America's cur­rent largest ances­tor group was Ger­man). So I sup­pose that's why we feel a bit torn here in MN — we're sup­posed to strive for great­ness but not make peo­ple feel bad about it.
    I love soci­ol­o­gy and his­to­ry in case you haven't noticed. Appar­ent­ly I do have a use for that Human Geog­ra­phy course from Sopho­more year!

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