Cycling as Innovation in Norway and Sweden—A Narrative Study of the Acceptance of a Technical Novelty
Anders Gustavsson
University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.
DOI: 10.4236/jss.2014.21009   PDF    HTML     5,003 Downloads   7,695 Views   Citations


This paper deals with the acceptance of a technical novelty, in this case cycling, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Experiences and feelings are the focus. The analytical perspectives are: social status, economy, age, gender, work/leisure, safety/danger. The innovation process of cycling conducted by a contrast between two neighbouring countries of Norway and Sweden respectively. The oral source material is found in Norwegian and Swedish folklore archives. The earliest design of bicycle was called velocipede. The bicycles began to appear around 1900. The first owners of bicycles were mostly well-to-do people in both rural and urban areas. As long as there was a shortage of bicycles, a certain collegiality existed, which implied that several people could use the same bike. Envy was also expressed in contrast to collective collegiality. Lady’s bicycles came somewhat later than men’s bikes. Children’s bicycles did not exist at first, so children were taught on adult bicycles. A major problem when bringing in bicycles was the bad road conditions in rural areas, especially in winter and at the spring thaw. Among the elder, the first velocipedes and bicycles could be perceived as a danger of supernatural character. Long weekend bike rides are mentioned in many cases from the 1930s, both in Norway and Sweden. Among cyclists, the expressions of positive feelings, as freedom, are clearly in majority. There were special conditions during the Second World War. One problem the cyclists then experienced was the total lack of rubber tyres. The difference between the neighbouring countries was that riders in Sweden were not subjected to the checks carried out by the German authorities in Norway.

Share and Cite:

Gustavsson, A. (2014) Cycling as Innovation in Norway and Sweden—A Narrative Study of the Acceptance of a Technical Novelty. Open Journal of Social Sciences, 2, 72-85. doi: 10.4236/jss.2014.21009.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Vivanco, L.V. (2013) Reconsidering the bicycle: An anthropological perspective on a new (old) thing. Routledge.
[2] Internet source.
[3] Ekström, G. (1984) Svenskarna och deras velocipeder. Hudiksvall.
[4] Hultstrand, K. and Kohlrusch, B. (1986) Cykla bör man. University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg.
[5] Svensk författningssamling (1982) 673. Stockholm.
[6] Ferieloven (2009) Store norske leksikon.
[7] Hesselgren, O., et al. (1972) Semesterlagen. Stockholm.
[8] Svensk författningssamling (1977) 480. Stockholm.
[9] (1999) Gränsmöten. Ed. by Rolf Danielsson & Anders Gustavsson. Strömstad.
[10] Skåden, K. (2004) Frembringelser av Tyskland i Norge: Med utgangspunkt i arbeidet for bilsamfunnet 1936-2002. Oslo.
[11] Gustavsson, A. (2000) Living near the Swedish-Norwegian border in the 20th century. Volkskultur und Moderne. Europäische Ethnologie zur Jahrtausendwende, Wien.
[12] Arbetet Väst June 16, 1983.
[13] Gustavsson, A. (2012) Cultural studies on folk religion in Scandinavia. Oslo.
[14] Gustavsson, A. (2011) Cultural studies on death and dying in Scandinavia. Oslo.

Copyright © 2024 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.