A man is alone in his flat. He has been lying there dead for three weeks – people only noticing his demise when an awful smell appeared in the communal hallways. As the Swedish authorities scrutinise the case, they discover that the man has no close relatives or friends. It is highly likely that he lived lonely and alone for years, sitting solitary in front of his TV or computer. After a while, they discover that he has a daughter, but she proves impossible to locate. All his worldly goods are therefore dumped on a tip, whilst his money end up in the state coffers. It becomes apparent that he actually had quite a lot of money tucked away in the bank. But what does that help when he had no one to share with.

«What does it matter if I have a million in the bank if am not happy, » says one of the social workers who searched through the deceased man’s flat looking for signs of a social network or relatives.

The new independence. Erik Gandini’s film The Swedish Theory of Love examines the Scandinavian countries’ individualism. He traces it back to 1972, when the leaflet The family of the future – a socialistic family policy decided that the way adults relate to each other should be founded on volunteerism and independence.

«Every person is to be treated as an individual and not as an appendage to a breadwinner, » said Olof Palme, one of the advocates of this new family politics. Whilst in a traditional society is born into a family or other social arrangements where we depend on others to survive, the past 40 years have seen a greater focus on making every one of us self-sufficient.

Unsuccessful policy? Do you also live alone? Many people do – especially in Norway and Sweden, where almost half of the population is a one-person household. This quickly raises the question whether being alone is an expression of freedom or independence – or not. The Swedish Theory of Love depicts the northern European family policy over the past 40 years and how the ideology about independence developed in the 1970s as an antithesis to what was seen as outdated and traditionalist lifestyles.

«More than one in five of us feel lonely. Some 70,000 Norwegians do not have any close confidents or friends whom they can turn to when they need someone to talk to, » states helsenorge.no. There is a growing number of single and lonely both in Sweden and Norway. The mass of citizens without anyone to speak with, is ever increasing. In addition, there are new groups, such as young immigrants, who do not speak the language nor possess a social network. Young men, in particular, end up in this category.

That Ethiopia’s Conservative gender roles are not even alluded to, simply helps distort the truth.

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