Social Organization. Norway's system of taxation and Social welfare generally precludes extremes of poverty and wealth. Class distinctions between professionals, business people, and working-class people in urban areas are greater than social differentiation in rural areas (the rural merchant-king excepted). Rural elites were and are small in number.
Political Organization. Norway is a constitutional monarchy, divided into nineteen provinces ( fylke ). Of the nine major political parties (including a spectrum from Conservative to Center to Communist), the Labor party has dominated Norwegian politics since the 1930s. The current prime minister, Gro Harlem Brundtland (Labor party), leads a 157-member parliament. Norway's nineteen provinces are in turn divided into counties ( kommune ), each of which has a central administration. Debate of issues is highly valued in county councils. Villages do not have formal councils and local Community consciousness may or may not be the norm, as Individual independence is also strongly developed.
Social Control. Nonconfrontation and the maintenance of conformity are important Norwegian values. Breaches of law are handled by local sheriffs or by police and are adjudicated in the Norwegian judicial system. Personal relations are characterized by avoidance of expressing strong emotions, rather than open conflict.
Conflict. Norway's early kings (especially Harold Fairhair, c. A.D. 900-940) prevailed in conflicts with local lords to establish centralized leadership; this pattern of internal armed conflict was congruent with simultaneous external Viking conquest. When Norway was ceded by Denmark to Sweden in 1814, the Norwegians attempted unsuccessfully to repel the Swedish army and establish an independent government. Norway's independence from Sweden in 1905 was achieved without military conflict. Norway was occupied by Germany in World War II.