The Norwegian Exception?

Norway's Liberal Democracy Since 1814

August 2021 9781787385603 280pp


How did Norway become a highly successful liberal democracy? Will its prosperity and stability last, or has modern history been an exception? Is the Norwegian experience based on luck, or has a part been played by clever politicians and sound institutions, including a well-functioning rule of law? How does Norway combine social democracy with a market economy, and extensive foreign trade? Since the 1970s, Norway has become an oil-producing giant in Northern Europe–how can that role be reconciled with the realities of climate change, and increasing awareness of that crisis?

This highly engaging book introduces Norwegian political and economic history to a broad audience, offering a deeper understanding of a country always looked upon with great interest, but perhaps not profoundly understood. The Norwegian Exception? takes the reader back through 200 years of state-building to explain Norway’s current position as a top- ranking nation, and to consider its chances of keeping that status in the twenty-first century. In particular, it unpacks how Norwegian politics and governance have shaped the country’s world-famous oil fund and unique relationship with the European Union. Leading historians Mathilde Fasting and Øystein Sørensen skilfully draw back the curtain on the inner workings of the Norwegian ‘utopia’.


Mathilde Fasting, of the think-tank Civita, is an economist, historian of ideas and author of books about Norwegian political and economic history, and on Francis Fukuyama (forthcoming).

Øystein Sørensen, Professor of Modern History at the University of Oslo, has published on liberalism, nationalism, totalitarianism, Norwegian political culture and counterfactual history.

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