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Sweden to test 'culture by prescription'

David Landes · 10 Nov 2009, 14:44

Published: 10 Nov 2009 14:44 GMT+01:00

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On Monday, the Swedish government announced that health authorities in Skåne in southern Sweden will receive 500,000 kronor ($72,600) from the public purse to fund a pilot programme called Kultur på recept (‘Culture by prescription’).

The one-year trial will be carried out at a health clinic in Helsingborg operated by Capio Citykliniken and offer patients access to cultural activities as a complement to their traditional treatment and rehabilitation.

“We know that illnesses affect people in different ways and can lead to absences due to sickness of varying lengths of time,” said social security minister Cristina Husmark Pehrsson in a statement.

“My hope is that culture by prescription can offer new insights into how culture, in a more pronounced way, can be a part of rehabilitation for extended absences due to illness.”

Research has shown a positive relationship between participating in cultural activities and an individual’s health, according to the ministers of culture and health, who jointly presented the programme on Tuesday.

As the government searches for ways to reduce the number of Swedes on long-term sick leave, the idea of exploring how cultural activities may help improve people’s health received a positive reception from government officials.

The culture by prescription trial will target patients suffering from low- and medium-grade depression, stress, anxiety, as well as those who have had back, shoulder or neck pains which have lasted more than three months.

Culture minister Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth was optimistic about the possibilities of spreading the positive effects of culture to other aspects of people’s lives.

“For me, it’s important that culture is everywhere; in schools, in healthcare, and in the public arena,” she said in a statement.

“We know that culture makes people healthy. I’m convinced that culture and art, with its integrity preserved, can create important added value in conjunction with other areas of society.”

The programme works from a broader definition of culture which, along with theatre visits, also includes activities such as visits to public gardens and enrolling in handicrafts courses.

Story continues below…

“The sort of cultural activities to be arranged would be experiences which strengthen self-confidence and provide continuity; culture should be a complement to regular care,” Christina Gedeborg-Nilsson, head of the culture and healthcare division with Region Skåne, told the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

According to SvD, health authorities in Umeå are also seeking funding to support a similar project in northern Sweden.

A final report on the results of the programme is to be submitted to the government in June 2011.

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

17:09 November 10, 2009 by Per Fritz
Whatever next?
18:23 November 10, 2009 by peropaco
Take away their sick leave benefits and you see an improvement straight of the back.
18:58 November 10, 2009 by Nemesis
This idea is worth exploring, I believe.

It will help people who have been long term sick to start building up social connections again. That is a good thing for helping rehabilitation after a long term illness.

This idea will help people to make friends and possible get past some social problems.

The Förengning in Sweden is a good idea. I think it should be replicated in Ireland and the United Kingdom. It does help people to build up social contacts and helps people to stop sitting at home on there own.

I personally have found the förengning system in Sweden very useful for building up social contacts.

Using this for people who have been long term sick, could be a very good idea.

I also recommend the förengning system for immigratsn to Sweden who are having bother socialising. It is a great way to build up your social network.

I hope the local follows this up and lets us know if the pilot program is sucessful.
19:00 November 10, 2009 by mkvgtired
peropaco, exactly. If they are well enough to leave the house for these "cultural activities" wouldnt that mean they should also be well enough to work. In the words of Milton Friedman,

"We have a system that increasingly taxes work and subsidizes non-work", and

"If you pay people not to work and tax them when they do, don't be surprised if you get unemployment."

I know many people love to hate him, but he brings up some valid points.
19:17 November 10, 2009 by delusion1982
@peropaco and mkvgtired, I don't think the points are valid.

I am a tax payer, and I have enough money after tax and happy that if they have extra money from that, to try it in a new creative programs. If these things would make the people who I work happier, that would probably also affect my work as well.

You are looking at it from a very strict stand point, where people feel sick only if they got flue. Feeling continuity and cultural connection is a problem of a lot of people in Sweden, also I didn't see that the program is offering people without jobs these benefits, probably that is a wrong extrapolation.

And who said that the problem in Sweden is money, and that there are people hungry while tax money is going to cultural courses?

If you love a completely capitalist system without programs to investigate such things from tax payers money, so you probably need to go to US, here it is just another approach. Not only in this program but in hundreds other ones.
20:02 November 10, 2009 by Nemesis
@ delusion1982

Well put.

A lot of the commentators on the local are right wing nut-jobs from the USA, who take delight in attacking everything Swedish and European.

They don't even try to find out what they are talking about.

I have found the Förengning system to be brilliant. When not working I am socialising with others with the same interests, instead of sitting at home on my own just or propping up the bar with the rest of the english speaking immigrants in Sweden.

Where I come from in Northern Ireland, there is no activites organised for the youth, that is comparable to Sweden. The alienation of the youth from society is extremely noticeable. Most activities organised for youth have a political input from groups like Sein Fein, DUP, catholic church, UDA and others, all of whom have twisted agenda's, unlike how the förengning are run in Sweden.

The other thing I have noticed is that adults are able to get together with others for hobby groups and similar. Back in Northern Ireland we had nothing like that or if we did it cost a lot of money and was usually run by lunatics, unlike the democratic method of organising förengning in Sweden.

I personally have taken part in cultural activites organised through kommunes and förengning and had a brilliant time as well as making new friends in the process.

I was personally apprenhensive about joining groups in Sweden, due to my experiences with activity groups in Northern Ireland. However I was pleasantly suprised and found them to be very good.

I have got to know so many people with the same interests in history, drawing, handcraft and other areas, it has been very good. The Swedish Förengning system is a brilliant idea and I think it should be rolled out across Europe.

Regarding the present article above, I have seen people who have been badly injured, with long illness's start to stay at home and become depressed.

I believe this pilot program is very important and has the potential to help a lot of people. I look forward to seeing the results of the pilot program and hope it is a sucess.

I personally have no issue with Sweden spending my tax money on this porject.

@ Per Fritz, peropaco and mkvgtired

According to your logic, the 10.2% unemployed in the United States of America are lazy. I did not know that. I thought they were unemployed due to the economic crisis, which the USA caused in the first place.

Since you have an issue with how Sweden spends its tax money on its people, here is some suggestions.

You can sell your belongings on blocket.se

You can sell your apartment or house on hemnet.se

You can get a flight to leave Sweden at flysas.com and move to a country where they treat there citizens with complete disregard, such as Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, USA, Somalia, Kuwait or similar.

If you don't like Sweden, leave.
20:12 November 10, 2009 by efm
To help reduce prolonged absence from work due to illness?

Choir and ceramics?


If you don't like Sweden, leave?

Gush, I'm happy I left.
22:06 November 10, 2009 by BravoTango
What? Swedes are always on semester and seem to be some of the most content people that I have ever met. If this is needed over so many days of annual holidays and special days off during the year, you are in real bad shape.

I agree with one of the previous commenters in that if some of the liberal benefits were cut back to working Swedes, there would be less problems.
22:46 November 10, 2009 by Nemesis
@ BravoTango,

Try reading the article before commenting. You may find you will then know what the article is about.

This pilot trial is for people who are not working due to illness, ie pre-pensioned. This pilot trial is about tackling some serious problems for the long term ill, to try to help them. That is a worthy goal in my opinion.

Regarding cutting back on liberal benefits. This article is about Sweden. Look at a map of the planet earth. You will see that Sweden is in Europe. Sweden is not in the USA or middle east.

Treating workers like dirt has been illegal in Europe for some time. Europeans do not need medievil style workplaces. We prefer advanced, safe and rewarding enviroments to work in.

The year is 2009, not AD9 when people with your mindset were defeated at Teutoburg.
00:08 November 11, 2009 by peropaco
Nemesis, I have better suggestion on how to spend my very large tax contribution to the Swedish coffer; like washing down a few cold beers at the local pig & whistle. I stand by what I said before. They should cut back on the sick leaves as most of the so called sick's are nothing more than a bunch of opportunist, inconsiderate lazy bastards. They are a drainage to the society coupled with their lackadaisical, abusive and calculated methods to take advantage of the system is "sickening"

Following your logic, anyone with an opposing view of the system should either move away to Saudi Arabia or some other country. Well my dear friend, I would love to go to Saudi Arabia or to some other countries you deem unbecoming. Why not Northern Ireland? marching season?

Shalom Achi
04:03 November 11, 2009 by xenyasai
peropaco says:

"Take away their sick leave benefits and you see an improvement straight of the back."

I really hope you never get so ill you actually need to ask the government to help you; but based on your selfish comment I can only assume you would rather die than be helped by anyone.

I can also only assume you don't know anyone who has been so ill it has made them incapable of living a normal life as you obviously take for granted.

Your arrogance and lack of compassion for your fellow human beings will one day get the best of you. Hopefully it won't cost the government too much, because you don't want to burden the tax payers, right?
08:26 November 11, 2009 by peropaco

thanks for your well-wishes. And I also hope I will never get so sick as to needing any long term assistance. I do know a couple guys who got early retirement for sickness they never had. One of them has been collecting lifetime benefits for about four years now. He is only 36. The other person is having a great deal of fun with her family in the south of France. According to her "doctor" she has Osteoarthritis. She is only 39. I am a very compassionate person my dear bubula but for those person needing real benefits and not for those lazy azz turds. Are you one of those on sick leave?
09:04 November 11, 2009 by Rick Methven
My wife has a colleague who sufferers from a number of ailments, I often think that she gets every new ailment that is discovered. Notwithstanding the very real problems that she has and Doctors telling her to stay at home, she keeps going back to work before she is really fit.

When asked why, she quotes two reasons.

1 Her income is less when she is sick

2 She gets depressed sitting at home alone.

While this unitive would not help her financially, it would help to improve her mental well being.

@peropaco. Whereas every country have those who milk the system for everything they can get, not every person who is sick is a crook
11:42 November 11, 2009 by Nemesis
@ peropaco

You would prefer to spend you tax money on beer, instead of the sick, infirm and long term disabled. That tells me a lot about what sort of person you are.

The long term ill are not lazy bastards. My cousins child is disabled and requires constant care. I would love to see you say to my cousin face to face that his child is a lazy, inconsiderate bastard. You would find out why Ulster people have such a feriocious reputation. I would love to hear you say that to anyone in my family's face on that one.

People who have been diasbled, deserve long term care. I have no problem with my tax money going to help them, in fact I encourage it.

You say you would love to move to Saudi Arabia, why don't you? It sounds like you would fit right in there.

Go to Northern Ireland in the marching season. Tell you what, make sure you are in Drumcree for the march or North Belfast. Tell everyone you meet that you consider everyone who is on long term sick to be 'nothing more than a bunch of opportunist, inconsiderate lazy bastards'. If you say that to the people in Northern Ireland were a lot of people are permanently pensioned due to american money purchasing weapons for maiming and killing, I can assure you that you will never have such an opinion again, if you survive.

The days of rome are over. Children are no longer thrown on the rubbish dump for being disabled, although you would like that.

In Europe we are starting to look after our diabled and long term ill again, for the first time since celtic times, where it had to be done under behan law.

If you don't like that, you should leave Europe.
12:48 November 11, 2009 by peropaco
Nemesis. Sorry mate Europe is my land. I have no problem if my tax money goes to help those who actually need the service; but I refuse to make it collectively available to every other person who by making of their own decides to take advantage of the system. Yes, I rather have the choice to drink beer than to make my tax money available to them. You talk about American money purchasing weapons to maim and kill. Well, my advice to you is to blame those hate mongers who are pulling the trigger. Sorry about your cousin child.

13:09 November 11, 2009 by Nemesis
@ peropaco,

This pilot scheme is about those who are genuinely ill.

The people who you claim are falsely making claims are a very small minority. That minority is a lot smaller than some right wing nutjobs like to claim.

The Swedish government has started to deal with them over the last two years and is slowly accelerating catching them, as they improve there detection techniques.

This pilot scheme is nothing to do with them. This pilot scheme is for genuinely ill people who need all our help, so as to become productive members of society again.

If you are European, you need to realise that in Europe, the weak, infirm and defenceless are not discarded. We support them, assist them and help them to become productive members of society. Europe is very good at that and getting better.

This pilot scheme if it works, will actually help to reduce the costs involved in the long term care of the disabled and long term ill, by integrating and reintegrating the people back into society.

In Europe all taxations systems are a collective pot, that are used by all government departments.

Having each individual choose what there tax money goes to, would lead to chaos, with it eventually being taken over by extremists.

That is why democracy works. It is far form perfect but usually helps to smooth out the extremism.

Re- my old home in Northern Ireland.

I blame not only those pulling the triggers, but those encouraging them, those giving the orders, those gaining political advantage, those turning a blind eye, those getting rich from them and those funding them. It is not just the trigger pullers, who are usually to stupid to realise how they are being used.

I have seen how it really works and I can assure you it is not only the trigger pullers who are the problem. It is the religeous, bigots, fraudsters, weapons suppliers, raceketeers and leeches on society, who all have a vested interest in murder and mayhem.
18:02 November 11, 2009 by mkvgtired
The US is FAR from completely capitalist. My point is these types of activities are offered everywhere. If taxes were cut people could use the extra money they had to pay for programs they were interested in themselves. 100% eliminating the government waste involved with administering a program such as this.
20:19 November 11, 2009 by Nemesis
@ mkvgtired

The USA is the most capitalist country on the entire planet, by far.

Thank you for confirming my suspicions regarding where you are coming from in your comments.

If you ever have a long term illness, it will be interesting to see if your opinions stay the same. In your case which is obviously ideology based, you not even notice.
21:27 November 11, 2009 by mkvgtired
You are correct if you are only talking about major countries, but smaller countries like Hong Kong and Singapore I would say are more capitalist than the US. I realize HK is part of China now, but it still enjoys most decision making capabilities regarding its economy, as well as its own currency. Just because the US is the MOST capitalist does not necessarily mean it is 100% capitalist. I think many Europeans would be surprised at the amount of social services here. A guy in Germany actually thought only 5% of Americans had healthcare. I 100% agree there should be safety nets for people who lose their job due to illness or business cycles. My mom had cancer when I was younger. She was able to get the treatment she needed, rest and rehabilitate, then return to work. It is my opinion that any government money spent on people who are seriously ill should be to rehabilitate them. I was just confused as to how these programs will help rehabilitate people which is what the article seemed to suggest. Granted it might be nice to have these services if you are sick, but it seems having a government body administer this is wasteful.
22:08 November 11, 2009 by Nemesis
@ mkvgtired

European government bodies actually keep the costs below those in the USA.
23:32 November 11, 2009 by mkvgtired
Overall, you are correct, the per capita medical cost is higher here. A large part of that is the fact that many uninsured people and illegal immigrants use the emergency room for everyday issues. I agree problems need to be fixed if we want to keep our medical institutions from going bankrupt, but we do not have to reinvent the wheel. I am happy with my coverage. I also agree that there needs to be better options if you have a long term illness or lose your job.

For instance my insurance is $600 ($1200 for a smoker) per year with a $2000 out of pocket maximum (probably $1300 total this year, untaxed). Therefore I will not pay over $2600 in medical expenses (excluding prescriptions) per year. Even the year I had surgery I probably paid $1800. That is by myself, it is less per person if you add a spouse, a same-sex partner, or dependents.

My main problem with the bill being proposed is the fact it forces all insurance, whether public or private, to be purchased through a government agency. Industries need to be regulated, but short of that I am a firm believer that government should stay out of industry and out of people's lives. As I said in the thread about what I would like to bring too my country from Sweden, your government is known for losing very little money to corruption. That is highly laudable. But adding an extra layer of government anywhere, more so in the United States than Sweden, will undoubtedly waste money. When I misplace a $5 bill it aggravates me. To see my government wasting the ungodly amounts of money it has been lately makes me sick. After all we all know that the US government is not exactly known for being a frugal spender
02:45 November 12, 2009 by xenyasai
@peropaco: I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I'm not a dole bludger. I do know some who are genuinely ill and can not work at the moment, and actually wish they could work as they get bored fighting the bureaucracy and being home all the time.

Still, what do you want your friend to do who has been given a diagnosis by her doctor? Do you have the skill and knowledge to overrule his/her diagnosis? Do you rather want your friend to lock herself up at home, never to leave home until she is well again?

I'm sorry, but you don't seem to be a compassionate person at all. Especially when you talk behind the back of your so called friends. If they are your friends, how can you be so hateful towards them; and why do you still consider them friends if they annoy you so much?

If you don't like the system, try to fix it, move from the country or shut your gob and deal with it.
08:46 November 12, 2009 by Nemesis
@ mkvgtired

What proposed bill?

This article is about a proposed Swedish pilot scheme in Sweeden to assist the long term ill to reintegrate into society?

Your comments are nothing whatsoever to do with the proposed Swedish pilot scheme.

This is absolutely nothing to do with US healthcare.

Regarding corruption in the USA. That is easy to fix, just audit until you find the criminals, arrest them, try them and then jail them.

Start with every single civilian appointment you made in Iraq, Afghanisatan and the recent bank bailouts.

Then arrest everyone in your democrat and republican parties wihtout exception.

That will be a start.

Until your country stops encouraging corruption first, before doing anything else, you will always have that problem.

You literally have to make corrruption culturally unacceptable in the USA.

If you were in Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Denmark or several other European countries, you would be paying less for healthcare and getting a level of healthcare coverage that I will not attempt to explain to an American, as you would not believe me.

Your US health care system is not relevant to Europe as literally it is a disaster built upon a foundation of corruption, ideology and stupidy.

There is actually nothing to compare in European healthcare with US heathcare, as it is not healthcare in the eyes of European people.
18:54 November 12, 2009 by mkvgtired
I brought it up because you mentioned the fact that European governments keep the costs lower than the American system. I was bringing up my specific example to show you that the spending is not as out of control as many think. YES something needs to be done to help uninsured people, but for the rest who are happy with their coverage I dont see why we need to have something forced on them. I think the fact that the US has the highest cancer survival rate in the world is at least some evidence that the care is not as bad as some suggest. Do we have to fix our system, yes, do we have to reinvent the wheel, no.
19:18 November 12, 2009 by Nemesis
@ mkvgtired

You are in the US.

Why are you on a Swedish forum, commenting on US health care in regards a Swedish health care pilot scheme?
21:28 November 12, 2009 by mkvgtired
You have a very condescending view of Americans. I also read US news sources if you must know. Is it not a stereotype that Americans have an isolated view of the world and are ignorant of how the rest of the world works? So now I get lectured for trying to see things from a different perspective. This can not be unilateral. I would expect Swedes to stop commenting on US policies, stop watching US based entertainment, and stop visiting US websites as well. I will let the Europeans on US forums know they are no longer welcome.
22:25 November 12, 2009 by Malmoman

Have you ever had healthcare in the US?

I have lived in both countries and been insured and hospitalized in both countries and you sir are an ignoramus.

Yes being uninsured is awful but I will take Mass General, Beth Israel, and Dana Farber over your second rate hospitals any day when the chips are down.

Lund University Hospital is inexpensive sure...hah!
07:41 November 13, 2009 by Nemesis
@ Malmoman,

If Sweden is so bad I have a helpful suggestion for you.

You can sell your belongings on blocket.se

You can sell your apartment or house on hemnet.se

You can then book a flight elsewhere at flysas.com

I hope you find those suggestions helpful as it is obvious you have not figured out how to leave a country which you hate so much.

@ mkvgtired

Anytime anyone from Europe tires to get past saying hello on a USA forum, the majority of time they run into some of the most hateful comments possible.

So many of you have come onto the Swedish forum to attack Sweden, I am just balancing the equation slightly.

Take a look at most of the posters. Most are from the USA attacking Sweden.

Most of you have never even been outside the USA and the knowledge that people from the USA have of the world outside the USA is so heavily distorted it is obvious that most of the commentators are talk radio and fox news followers.

If you have an issue with Sweden or any other European country, stay away from them.

I am an immigrant to Sweden from Northern Ireland. This country is paradise to me. Northern Ireland was destroyed by weapons paid for mostly by Americans who sat in the USA thjinking it was wonderful as people I grew up with were either killed or maimed or they committed terrible crimes and destroyed lives with American paid weaponary.

@ the USA commentators here who hate Sweden and all other European countries.

You should just stay away from Europe and get in bed with people who have the same mindset as yourselves, ie the Taliban, saudi arabia, afghanisatan and kuwait.
09:09 November 13, 2009 by AussieAndy
I think it is a wonderful idea. The long term ill do become social deprived and anything that can help stop is great.

As the article said "Research has shown a positive relationship between participating in cultural activities and an individual's health"

@Nemesis. keep up the good work.
18:34 November 13, 2009 by mkvgtired
Beleive it or not Americans dont sit around wishing death on people. I have never experienced hateful comments toward Europeans just because of their natioality regardless of if it was on a forum or in person. Either way I will not even waste any more of my time. You are one of those "every problem of mine is America's fault" type of people, and your mind will never change. I wish you the best.
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