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Frames of Nostalgia and Belonging: The Resurgence of Reactionary Ethno-Nationalism in Sweden

Journal article
Authors Gabriella Elgenius
Jens Rydgren
Published in European Societies: The Official Journal of the European Sociological Association
Volume 21
Issue 4
Pages 583-602
ISSN 1461-6696
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Sociology and Work Science
Pages 583-602
Language en
Keywords Radical right-wing parties, ethno-nationalism, Swedish ‘exceptionalism’, the Sweden Democrats, Swedish ethnic nationalism, frame theory
Subject categories Sociology, Political Science


This article explores the ethno-nationalist rhetoric promoted by radical right-wing parties in Europe; its perceived threats against national identity translated into a nostalgia for the past based on ethnic homogeneity. Five anti-immigrant frames have been especially instrumental in attracting voters, merging with other central components to construct a potent master frame and structuring much of the mobilizing activities of these parties. This development motivates a closer look into the ways in which the ethno-nationalist message is framed and constructed, taking Sweden as our case in point. The Sweden Democrats entered the Swedish parliament in 2010, an election that has come to mark the end of Swedish ‘exceptionalism’ and pointing towards the resurgence of ethno-nationalism in Sweden too. The Swedish case is analyzed with a focus on the Sweden Democrats particular ethno-nationalist message; the rhetoric of decline of golden ages and solutions posed to combat these alleged processes of decay. We depart from framing theory that allow us to better understand the centrality of the ethno-nationalist message, which demonstrates considerable continuity over time, despite the modernization of party rhetoric. Thus, the exclusive conceptualization of nationality as constituted by an ‘inherited essence’, proposes that Swedish identity is more than culturally assigned. The empirical material consists of Sweden Democrat party manifestos and position papers since 1989 and selected articles from the party newsletter (SD Kuriren).

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