Norwegians, the peaceful Vikings? A qualitative study of Norwegian cultural identity through the mediated picture created in the "to Valhall" debate
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In this thesis I will be analyzing these events and want to find out what the portrayals and reactions to them show about Norwegian society and most specifically components of a conceived Norwegian cultural identity. I will not be looking at these events through a firsthand account provided by, for example, the soldiers who carried out these actions. I will instead be studying these events and the reactions to them through the mediated picture presented by the Norwegian press. This gives me with the opportunity to look at these events from a different angle and perspective. I will hopefully also be able to observe the relationship between society and the media. Specifically the role that this relationship plays in displaying, reflecting, and producing components a Norwegian cultural identity. My research question for this thesis is: • How does the mediated picture of events from 2010-2011 concerning actions carried out by members of the Telemark Battalion portray aspects of a conceived Norwegian cultural identity? ! I also have two sub-questions that will be explored: • How does this mediated picture reflect and create aspects of peacefulness as a component of Norwegian cultural identity? • How does this mediated picture reflect and create aspects of Christian cultural heritage as a component of Norwegian cultural identity? The “to Valhall" media debate brought forth a number of intriguing points and reactions. In this thesis I have analyzed a number of them and found that they were symptoms of something else that was lying beneath the surface. Beneath the surface was a desire to defend the foundational cultural components of peacefulness and Christian cultural heritage that are central to the Norwegian self-image. It also included questions surrounding what kind of role Norway is to play in the international arena, as well as what role Norwegian professional soldiers are to have. ! Concerning the relationship between the media and society, this mediated debate displayed how the newspapers decide what kinds of stories they will print and what these stories will contain. Due to this, they hold a key role in directing how a societal debate plays out. At the same time, individuals themselves take the information that they consume from the media and use what works from them and interpret the content based on their worldview. They use this information in their society interactions as well as in their cultural identity formation. This combination was vital in bringing fourth the ideas that were “beneath the surface” in this “to Valhall” debate from 2010-2011. It provided society the opportunity to look at these events as well as themselves in diverse and complex ways.