Accepted Paper:

The cuteness of hygge: between verbal and visual, between social and material  


Ana Svetel (University of Ljubljana)

Paper short abstract:

Hygge, a Danish concept closely related to the English coziness, gained a wide-spread popularity in the past few years. The paper focuses on how the notion of hygge correlates with the ideas of cuteness and likeability through visual and verbal imagery as well as social and material manifestations.

Paper long abstract:

Hygge, defined as »quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being,« became one of the most fashionable lifestyle buzzwords in the last few years. Its trendy appeal is associated with the notions of 'Nordic' decor, home, comfort, safety, athmosphere and warmth. The concept of hygge reinforces the image of neat, well organized and fair Nordic societies and fit with media and public discourses about this region. Consequently it also strenghtens ethnic stereotyping and therefore has deeper sociocultural implications. Numerous books (e.g. Meik Wiking's The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well), articles and blogs produce a 'hygge' discourse. Its narratives, however, are not only written but also intensively visual. Their cute, homey aesthetics and imagery are reinforced through social media (with Instagram being the domicile of hygge) and play an important role in the construction of digital identites. As Jeppe Trolle Linnet points out »the experience of hygge comes about through a constellation of temporal experience, forms of interaction and social activities, plus material conditions and objects, by which the realization of this experience entails a certain pattern of consuption.« I will focus on how this elusive concept correlates with the notions of likeability and cuteness, which reflect in collective as well as individual (re)presentations and affects. The above mentioned narratives on the one hand illuminate the questions of gender and consumption, while on the other place hygge within the larger array of conceptions such as cuteness, wellbeing and happiness.

Panel Sui01
Cuteness: forms, politics, transformations