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Cecilia Fredriksson.

Cecilia Fredriksson


Cecilia Fredriksson.

Ett paradis för alla. Epa mellan folkhem och förförelse


  • Cecilia Fredriksson

Summary, in English

A Paradise for All. Epa between the People's Home and Seduction.

This dissertation is about the Epa department store chain, which existed in Sweden from 1930 to 1977. For many people, Epa was an arena for meeting modernity. By allowing issues of tradition and modernity, cultural learning processes, class, gender and aesthetics to collide with the Epa phenomenon, a complex picture of the Swedish People's Home emerges.

The Epa issue was heavily debated in Sweden in the 1930s. The goods were inexpensive and intended for the large consumer class which had yet to enjoy consumption as a leisure activity. Mass sales and quality were central aspects of the dichotomy that comprised the basis of the debate. Epa was portrayed by certain groups as foreign and threatening to Swedish culture. The debate about Epa became a way of discussing modernity and the changes that a new form of production and consumption entails.

The civilizing function of the department store also brought with it a new licentiousness. The opportunity to haggle over prices was removed as well as a feeling of being obligated to make purchases. Epa provided a new space for a new group with purchasing power to learn the sensual art of mass consumption. Many learned about impulse-buying and the flaneur's gate and gaze, at the same time that one could also try the forbidden forms of consumption such as shoplifting.

The view of productive work changed through mass consumption. The new service employees at the department store comprised a problematic and hard to define category. A job at Epa was a way of breaking with tradition and seeking a new identity.

The culmination of the rational project launched in the 1930's would give birth in the 1960's to an intimization of commodity aesthetics. Through a clear informalization in advertising and the presentation of goods, Epa underwent a re-modernizing. In this context, themes such as intimacy and the public/private dichotomy are central in discussions about functionalism and the aesthetics of everyday life.

Finally, the importence of place and bodily experience are set against a theory of consumption discourse. In what way does the ideology of distinction affect our understanding of modern consumption? Epa was a place for certain forms of cultural identity formation, at the same time that it functioned as a cultural epithet. Epa offered an opportunity for cultural critique and appropriation of the modern project. The epithet became a way to deal with questions of taste, morality and alienation.


  • Department of Service Studies

Publishing year





Nordiska museets Handlingar



Document type



Nordiska museets förlag


  • Art History


  • intimization
  • commodity aesthetics
  • gender
  • class
  • cultural learning processes
  • shoplifting
  • mass sales
  • modernity
  • Department store
  • consumption
  • cultural epithet
  • Cultural anthropology
  • ethnology
  • Kulturantropologi
  • etnologi




  • [unknown] [unknown]


  • ISSN: 0346-8585
  • ISBN: 91-7108-4363
  • ISRN: LUHFDA/HFET---98/1033---SE+276

Defence date

5 June 1998

Defence time


Defence place

Carolinasalen, Kungshuset, Lund


  • Magnus Berquist