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Protestantism, Anxiety and Orientations to the Environment: Sweden as a Test Case for the Ideas of Richard Sennett

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This paper examines how Protestant beliefs can influence orientations to the natural and built environment. Sweden is taken as a test case for a critical evaluation of Richard Sennett's American-focused claims that Protestant-induced anxieties encourage moves to create bland, neutralised environments in which temptation and contact with distractingly different others can be minimised. The paper documents ways in which Swedish environmental orientations fail to fit with Sennett's account and elaborates how Protestantism has the potential to generate a wider range of outcomes than he recognises. It then suggests that variations in the impact the same religion may have produced in the Swedish and American context might be linked to cross-societal differences in the relation between the individual and the collective, and in the role of the state.


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