The Swedish “raggar”culture

A description of the Swedish culture of the”raggare”


Our task was to select a subject for a project work with the size of 8-10 pages. Of course it had to be inside the frames of what we have been reading in our course in Inter culture rhetorics, but we were able to choose anything about inter culture interaction or culture (which is a very wide subject since all people in the world more or less belong to specific cultures). Our first thought was to choose a country in the Middle East and simply compare it to us and our culture back here in Sweden. It turned out to be quite similar compared to what we have been doing earlier in the course, so instead we decided to do something completely different. All countries have their own cultures and subcultures. And Sweden is not an exception. A subculture is a smaller culture that differs from the larger culture (in which it belongs) in one or many ways. They might for example have a different religion, sexuality or something else that is not what the larger culture would call “common”.

The subculture we decided for our project work is the Swedish “raggar culture”. It’s a very special culture in many ways, and it appeared in Sweden in the early 1950’s. Some people claim that the word “raggare” derived from the English word “rag”, but others mean that it appeared from the Swedish word “ragga” which means “to pick a partner up” according to a Swedish dictionary.

There were a lot of reasons why the “raggare” appeared in the 50’s, but one can be considered as the most important. It was the period after the Second World War and USA had created the Marshall help to support and help European countries to get back on their feet again. As a result of this, Sweden, among many other European countries, was influenced by America in many factors. Around this time Elvis Presley, James Dean and other movie stars were on top, and Sweden was influenced by these artists. Teenagers wanted to look like them. And this was the start of the look of the “raggare”. It was also an industrializing going which led to that several new kinds of were available in Sweden which contributed to more money and spare time to the people, mostly for young people. Casual people could finally afford to buy themselves cars, and for the “raggare” it was an easy choice: American cars, like Chevrolet Impala, and that was the start of the culture of the “raggare”.

This subculture still does exist at some places in Sweden, mostly on the country side though. For some people it is a life style, for others it is more like a hobby. And they do not look like Elvis Presley and James Dean either. Nowadays it is common that they wear skin- or jeans vests, snuff underneath their lips, tormented jeans and beers in their hands. At least that’s the stereotype of the “raggare”.

/Amanda & August

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One Response to The Swedish “raggar”culture

  1. Anders Eriksson says:

    Good example of a sub-culture. I think students in other countries reading you post can relate to the phenomenon in their own countries as well.

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