24 November 2018

"Dugnad" explained

This is “dugnad”, a word which literally means help or support in Norwegian, a custom of communal work in Norway that dates back centuries, and one that has existed in some form or another in most agricultural societies around the world.

In Norway, dugnad was traditionally a way of getting big tasks like roofing, haymaking and house-building done, usually followed by a big meal or a feast. In a nation of farmers and fishermen, it functioned as a kind of community insurance scheme. People helped others out and as a result knew that they could always call on the community in their time of need.

Today dugnad has come to mean unpaid voluntary work done in a group, for local, national or international causes. And it’s become so entrenched in contemporary Norway that in 2004 dugnad was voted Norway’s word of the year.

“Last week I had four different dugnads, because of my kids’ football teams. Next week we’re going to have a garden dugnad at work,” says Hanne Hoff, who is one of the organisers...

Surveys show that the number of volunteers in Norway and the amount of time they spend volunteering are high and increasing in some areas. A total of 61% volunteered for at least one organisation in 2014, figures from Statistics Norway show...

He says dugnad is a good opportunity for new people to make connections in the community such as refugees, immigrants and also unemployed people or people without an established social network. He says that while the main reason for taking part in a dugnad is to contribute to a good cause, doing so also boosts self-esteem and can even help develop new skills or connections useful for the job market.  
More at the BBC.

1 comment:

  1. I know that the Amish will have "barn raisings" where the entire community comes together, puts us a big barn, then has a big "homecoming" style meal. And while this is likely to be a practice in many communities across the world, I found that that Amish have a German and Swiss background. So, Sweden being a Nordic country, I wonder if the Amish do this as a function of dugnad...or a function of their isolationist tendencies, in which the people almost of necessity much work together? What do you think?


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