Swedish word of the day: åsiktskorridor

The phenomenon is not limited to Sweden. Image: nito103/Depositphotos
This word is crucial if you want to get along with Swedes, whether in a professional or personal context.

Åsiktskorridor means 'opinion corridor' or 'corridor of opinions', from en åsikt (view/opinion) and en korridor (corridor).

It's used to talk about the range of different opinions that are socially acceptable to share or to hold on a subject.

Åsiktskorridor is a recently coined term, its first known use being in 2009. It was later defined by political science professor Henrik Oscarsson, who was describing the subjects that it's acceptable to put up for debate.

If a topic is outside the åsiktskorridor, it is viewed as too extreme or divisive to debate, and therefore rarely brought up in the public debate or even within conversation, especially among people who don't know each other well. Playing devil's advocate or starting a debate on these topics for fun rarely goes down well in Swedish circles.

On one hand, the åsiktskorridor could in theory help to keep extreme views such as racist or homophobic opinions outside the mainstream, and helps to avoid giving airtime to people who are arguing against something that has been proven as fact, such as climate change deniers or conspiracy theorists.

The problem that Oscarsson raised was that many people may still hold opinions outside the 'corridor', so if the åsiktskorridor is too narrow, people are losing out on the chance for constructive debate and free speech in favour of the Swedish preference for consensus.

READ ALSO: How to have an argument without offending a Swede

One example the political scientist gave was abortion rights, since studies showed 14 percent of Swedes agreed with limiting the right to abortion. Since these rights have been a key part of Swedish feminism for several decades, this view is often seen as too extreme and outside the accepted range of views.

The phenomenon isn't limited to Sweden, and terms like 'political correctness' and 'echo chamber' in English show there's an understanding that people tend to surround themselves with people who hold similar views, and only share opinions which they believe are held by the majority in the group, in other cultures too.

Examples

Det är inte bra om åsiktskorridoren blir för smal

It's not good if the opinion corridor gets too narrow

Är åsiktskorridoren i Sverige en myt eller verklighet?

Is the opinion corridor in Sweden a myth or reality?

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