University of Iceland

Crisis stories of 100 Icelanders

Crisis stories of 100 Icelanders

“The study, based on gathering interviews with more than 100 Icelanders from all over the country from different demographics, examines how Icelanders experienced and dealt with the crash of 2008; its prelude and repercussions, and what political understanding they have of these events. The goal is to find out how the events of the winter 2008-2009 were a watershed in Icelanders’ personal lives,” says Magnús Sveinn Helgason.   

His study is titled “Crisis stories: Icelanders’ experience of the economic crisis 2008-2009 and their ideas on its influence on family, politics and society.” The study is carried out within the Centre for Oral History, headed by Guðmundur Jónsson, Professor of History.

Helgason says that the idea for the study was sparked by the events in the autumn of 2008 when it became clear that Icelanders were witnessing historic events that would have great and lasting effect on daily life and social development. “This was a historic watershed. We felt that it was important to gain a deeper understanding of how they were manifested in people’s daily lives, and moreover how they shaped people’s understanding of society. It seemed important to us to research the public’s experience of these events while the consequences of the crisis and the crash are not absolutely clear, “ says Helgason.

Some conclusions have been drawn already from the research. “A lot has surprised us. It is striking how little faith the public has in politicians. However, it is interesting to note that people do not dismiss democracy as such; we even note signs of increased interest in democratic participation. People are more positive towards protest movements than before. Some of the interviewees discussed the importance of directly monitoring politicians, lest they forget for whom they work,” says Helgason.  

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