Accepted Paper:

Coffee and class for the Swedes, as seen in the Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson: analysing coffee as materiality of actor-network-theory  


Åsa Ljungström (Uppsala University)

Paper short abstract:

Coffee and class express the paradox of a dream of a classless society, denying the divisiveness of class affiliation. Drawing on theory of materiality the paper aims to analyse coffee running through the bodies, creating chains of communication.

Paper long abstract:

In the Millennium Trilogy coffee and class express the paradox of the dream of a classless society denying the divisiveness of class affiliation in Sweden. Coffee is used to create affinity while the consumption of other kinds of food and drink is used to subtly mark social hierarchies. Swedish people like to believe that it is possible for anyone to climb the social ladder; equality has been the leading ideal since the 1960s, or even since the 1930s when the building of the welfare state began. Having a coffee works to level the communication between people in real life as well as in the novels. The author uses the coffee as a formula to get the storyline going, introduce new characters or forecast events. Not until the New York Times' columnist (Kamp 2010) wrote about the pathological coffee consumption did the Swedes notice. To us it seemed just normal. The Swedes will have a coffee during a break at work, at home, with a friend, or whenever they open communication. Any interviewer knows how a coffee works - a refusal of an offer of coffee requires explanation. The serving of coffee makes a self-evident statement in any kind of group within the wide middle class. Drawing on theory of materiality and presence the paper aims to analyse coffee running through the human bodies creating chains of communication. Anything is possible with a coffee for us and for Stieg Larsson's characters coping with the morale of good and evil, black and white.

Panel P17
Body, corporeality and configuration: the affective body in the vortex of culture, identity and communication