How to be Danish

I would thoroughly recommend a short book, How to be Danish, by Patrick Kingsley.


This book is entertaining and easy to read, and includes interviews with key figures in Danish society, personal experience and analysis of published studies. The aim is to offer an understanding of what is distinctive about Danish culture and society, and how Denmark came to be the way it is.


From a Scottish perspective, what is particularly interesting is the way that Denmark has worked out its own solutions to the specific issues and challenges that have confronted it over the past 200 years, in such areas as farming, education, energy, transport, cuisine, design, social care and immigration. The point is not that these ideas and strategies would necessarily be applicable to Scotland. What is more relevant is to reflect on how a small country has come to terms with loss of empire, invasion, and economic recession, and has been able, from about the middle of the 19th century, to capitalise on its own strengths, resources, and people.


Reading about developments in Denmark makes it very clear the extent to which Scotland has not been able to do these things, or has been able to do them only to a very restricted extent. It is instructive to compare this book to Blossom, by Lesley Riddoch. Blossom vividly describes many suggestions for creative renewal in Scotland that have been thwarted, or only exist as possibilities. In Denmark, many more of these initiatives have been able to come to fruition.




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