How much of a society's culture, politics, attitudes, etc. can be determined by fictional representations (particularly if an author is a member of that society at the time period depicted in the wok)?
Obviously, an author's biases will color a work to some degree. However, if the author is seeking to portray their society as accurately as possible as a given to the story line, than how different a view of that society would you get than if you were to interview a (thoughtful?) member of that society?
I ponder this because of a recent attempt in the media to highlight the agreeable aspects of the Swedish healthcare system in order to promote Obamacare here in the US. How does the actual state of healthcare in Sweden compare to how it is portrayed in a fictional work I am reading?
The effectiveness (or lack thereof) of Swedish healthcare is incidental in the story for the most part. It mentions (government) cutbacks adversely affecting the treatment of a relatively minor character, wherein a major character steps in to provide private funds to supplement this deficiency in care.
I recall that there were one or two other (again incidental) remarks on the weaknesses in Swedish healthcare (and other services) due to governmental shortfalls in funding.
It would be interesting to determine if these fictional perspectives square with the factual status of the socialized medical carer system in Sweden. If they do coincide with reality than it would bolster the arguments that modeling our own healthcare system after those in European nations is not necessarily a good approach, and to my question—perhaps fiction can provide a relatively sound view into societal issues.
I would think that this approach is less useful where the main question of interest features prominently in the fictional work as it will likely be heavily colored by the author's bias. After all, it may be the author's intent to promote a certain viewpoint on that particular question. Incidental references may be much more useful.
When fact is fiction and TV reality —U2