Can we slow down? Challenges and possibilities of living slowerand simpler in Sweden
Sammanfattning: This thesis takes its departure in the view of modern society as being characterised by a heavy focus on efficiency and economic growth, and perception that everything is moving faster and faster in line with Hartmut Rosa´s theory of social acceleration. The effects of this can be seen in rising numbers of stress related sicknesses and mental health problems, as well as a heavy pressure on the earths resources to facilitate continued growth. The aim of the thesis is to investigate the challenges and possibilities for individuals in Sweden to slow down and live a simpler life in this context. Previous research suggests that slower lifestyles can be beneficial both for well-being and environmental sustainability reasons, so understanding the preconditions of this to be possible can be an important aspect when trying to plan for a sustainable future. The theoretical framework consists of the model of voluntary simplicity lifestyle by Osikominu and Bocken (2020), the theory of social acceleration by Rosa (2009) and selected writings on Social Change. The thesis is based on a thematic analysis of empiric material from individuals in Sweden who has transitioned to a slower and more simple lifestyle, generally in terms of working less, reducing their consumption and living closer no nature, and also are visible on social media, reaching out to many others as inspiration. The material consists of writings and recordings from the study-persons in the form of blog-posts and podcasts. The study could confirm that many parts of the VSL-model also were applicable and experienced in the Swedish context. Most participants had in common that their previous lifestyle was characterised by stress, pressure, and living according to others expectations, in line with Rosa´s theory of social acceleration. Their new slower and simpler lifestyles were a decision to follow their own path in life and start to value their time more. The challenges that could be recognised was the norm of working full-time, achievement values, living outside the norm, ethical dilemmas regarding consumption and, for those living on the countryside, transport and infrastructure. The possibilities most recognised were concerning their wellbeing, closely related to their possibility of finding time for recovery, as well as living more in contact with the environment. Social life appeared both as a challenge and a possibility.
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