Icelandic society provides an ideal research lab for sociology. Compared to many other advanced industrialised nations, Iceland's industrialisation was both late and rapid.
The last decades have witnessed remarkable social achievements, for example:
- Icelanders were the first nation to elect a female president in 1980
- Iceland was first to have a gay Prime Minister in 2009.
- Iceland has the most Internet users per capita
- Iceland is the smallest nation to enjoy international success in major group sports
- Iceland has been ranked the most peaceful country in the world 10 years in a row by Global Peace Index
On the less positive side, Iceland was the first victim of the global financial crisis in 2008. The crisis sparked a wave of mass protest, overthrowing the government and the imprisonment of major bankers. Iceland currently provides a social experiment, where new and old ideas clash in the political and personal space; and the country is simultaneously an active participant in the globalised world and grounded in a local culture of equality and welfare.
The smallness of the country's population and the unique data resources available about the whole (or a large part of the population) offer rare opportunities to conduct social research on a society, which in many ways represents a micro-version of larger societies, yet having many unique characteristics.
These opportunities are coupled with faculty that has been very active in research in areas as diverse as globalisation, welfare state policy, crime, delinquency, and criminal justice, mass protest, health and mental health, and sport and leisure. Given those resources, one might even conclude that in Iceland you can do social research that would be impossible in any other country in the world.