Long Term Projects – Fritt Ords Monitor Project

Report: The limits of freedom of expression - social norms and political tolerance


Kari Steen-Johnsen, Audun Fladmoe and Arnfinn H. Midtbøen

Download the report (in Norwegian)

This report deals with the limits of freedom of expression in Norway. The discussion about freedom of expression often revolves around whether the limits set by the act in question are adequate, and what social and ethical limits can or should be set within the parameters set by the law. 

Where the social and legal limits for freedom of expression run is timely not least in respect of the juxtaposition between the right to express opinions freely on the one hand, and the right to protection again hate speech and persecution on ethnic, religious or other grounds, on the other. It is this juxtaposition in particular that is the theme of this report. By placing a thematic focus on religion and immigration, we examine attitudes to such questions among the population of Norway. 

The report is a spin-off from the project "The Status of Freedom of Expression in Norway – the Fritt Ord Foundation's Monitoring Project", which is currently in round two. The first round of the project examined attitudes to and experience of freedom of expression in the population of Norway and selected groups, in a broad-based study. In the second round of the new project, we will delve more deeply into the processes by which limits are set for what can and cannot be said in the public space in Norway.

The investigation is part of, and builds further on earlier studies in the project "The Status of Freedom of Expression in Norway – the Fritt Ord Foundation's Monitoring Project 2013-2014". The analyses presented in the report mainly take their point of departure in a new survey conducted among the general public in autumn 2015. However, the analyses are also based on an earlier survey of the general population conducted in autumn 2013 and a survey conducted among journalists and editors in autumn 2015. 

The report was launched at the seminar Freedom of expression and political tolerance organised at the Fritt Ord Foundation, on Tuesday, 16 January at 10.00 a.m. 

Arnfinn H. Midtbøen,
project manager of the research project entitled the Status of Freedom of Expression in Norway and researcher II at the Institute for Social Research, mobile: +47 920 82553, email: ahm@samfunnsforskning.no

Bente Roalsvig, project director and deputy executive director of the Fritt Ord Foundation, mobile: +47 916 13340, email: bente.roalsvig@frittord.no