This article discusses popular reactions to post-war welfare policies
in Sweden. From the point of view of the inhabitants of the local communities
in Northern Sweden, these policies gave access to new material resources.
At the same time, welfare policies meant marginalizing, most obviously
through depopulation. The common response to this situation of inequality
were discussions about the meaning of local traditions and practices, which
were presented as dialectical contrasts to the ideals of state policies.
The local identities thus forged were cultural constructions realized under
specific social and political conditions.
Evidence generated by the implementation of state policies on housing and education demonstate how local communities were increasingly influenced by activities, values, norms, and actions that originated in other social milieus. It was these increased contacts with "the other" that established a space for reflections on the meaning of locality. Through narrative constructions, continuity in individual life-stories and consensus on interpretations of social development was created. "The local" is thus a way of critiquing aspect of the status quo without having to establish an outspokenly oppositional political stance against it.