Jerry Määttä, Pengar, prestige, publicitet. Litterära priser och utmärkelser i Sverige 1786–2009 (Pay, Prestige, Publicity: Literary Prizes and Awards in Sweden, 1786–2009)
The aim of this study is to discuss and analyse the functions, rise and growth of modern literary and cultural prizes and awards in Sweden, mainly through an extensive mapping of contemporary prizes and awards. After a brief discussion of earlier research and the manifold symbolic and economic functions of literary and cultural prizes and awards, the study deals with this data (accounted for in the tables in the appendices) by analysing factors such as when and by whom the prizes and awards have been founded, what their prize moneys have amounted to, what their respective impact in the media has been (gauged by searches in the newspaper and media databases Presstext and retriever), and which prizes and awards can be considered to be the most influential within the contemporary Swedish national literary field.
The study is mainly focused on Swedish and pan-Nordic literary and cultural prizes which can be awarded to authors writing fiction and poetry in Swedish for an adult readership (which means that prizes and awards for children’s and young-adult fiction, non-fiction, translations, criticism, etc. are excluded, as is the Nobel Prize for Literature, which is nowadays very seldom awarded to Swedish authors).
The total number of such prizes and awards found is 138, of which almost two thirds have been established since 1980, and about 90 percent since the end of the Second World War (the oldest such prize was established by the Swedish Academy in 1786). The total sum of the prize money awarded in 2009 was more than 6.4 million SeK (roughly 920.000 USD or 585.000 GBP), and almost a quarter of the prizes and awards that year had a prize sum of at least 100.000 SeK each (roughly 14.000 USD or 9.000 GBP). Some of the tendencies observed and discussed are that 44 percent of the prizes and awards have been established by literary academies and associations, and 27 percent by agents connected to the book and media markets; that the last decade (since 1999) has seen an heretofore incomparable discontinuation of prizes and awards (24 of the 138 prizes and awards in the study), and that half of these prizes had also been established during the last decade, mainly by commercial interests; that the sum of the prize money seems to have a larger influence on impact in the media than the age of the prize or award; that prizes and awards established by agents with a strong connection to the book market or with access to their own media channels (such as newspapers, magazines and radio channels) often have an advantage when it comes to having a large impact in the media, as do some of the prizes awarded for literary debuts, and — it would seem — prizes named after canonical and popular Swedish authors.
The study concludes with a discussion of the most significant factors when it comes to gauging the cultural prestige of the prizes and awards, and a presentation of a tentative list of the roughly 30 Swedish and pan-Nordic literary and cultural prizes and awards which might be considered the most influential.
2010. Vol. 131, 232-329 p.