The concept "fika" and "hygge" in focus for a new study2021-08-20
Mia Larson, professor of business administration at CTF and Karlstad Business School at Karlstad University, is one of the authors behind a newly published article where she, together with other researchers, have studied the use of the cultural concepts of “fika” and “hygge” in destination marketing.
"The concept of fika has existed in Sweden for about 100 years. It is used by Swedes as a common expression for drinking coffee accompanied by something sweet. But it also has a deeper meaning – to take a pleasant break in a social setting. When you are having fika you also have "hygge", “hygge sig” as the Danish people say. "Hygge" is a concept that the Danes use in many different contexts and is considered to go deep into the Danish soul," says Mia Larson.
On Facebook and Instagram, these two cultural concepts are materialized, made tangible and more easy to understand by simplifying and commercializing them. As an example, VisitSweden shows photos of coffee and cinnamon buns and give tips on where to go for fika. VisitDenmark shows pictures of Christmas celebrations at the amusement park Tivoli in Copenhagen. The followers on these social media pages co-produce this simplified image by commenting in the comment fields, she says.
"Simplifying cultural phenomena in destination marketing has been strongly criticized in previous research because it is believed to reduce the cultural phenomenon and making it superficial and commercial. However, we believe it is a part of the purpose of destination marketing to reach out in the noise of messages on social media," says Mia Larson.
The authors believe that communication of culture inevitably is an ideological choice that highlights certain aspects more than others, and therefore the simplification of fika and hygge is a conscious strategy that is necessary when representing destinations.
The article is published in the Journal of Place Management and Development and written together with Richard Ek, Department of Geography, Media and Communication at Karlstad University, and with Laura Caprioli, VisitBritain, and Can Seng Ooi, University of Tasmania.
Link to the article "The inevitability of essentializing culture in destination branding: the cases of fika and hygge".