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Bamse and the Legitimacy of the State

Journal article
Authors Simon Larsson
Published in Moderna Språk
Volume 108
Issue 1
Pages 45-56
ISSN 0026-8577
Publication year 2014
Published at School of Global Studies
Pages 45-56
Language en
Keywords Bamse, children’s literature, Swedish welfare state, colonial state, violence, institutions, legitimacy, division of power
Subject categories Sociology, Political Science, Languages and Literature, General Literature Studies, Cultural Studies


This article aims to explore inherent power dimensions in the Swedish children’s comic book Bamse. While previous scholars have noted the ideological aspects of the series, (and placed these in a context of the Swedish welfare state), this article offers an analysis of the power structures in the narratives from an institutional perspective. I argue that the functions of the main characters in their hometown correspond to important functions of the Swedish welfare state. Furthermore, I argue that the functions of the main characters as they are represented in their different journeys to remote places correspond to functions of a colonial state. While also stressing the differences between these two contexts in this article, I suggest that as an allegory, the characters are relationally organised through shared underlying ideals; these being an understanding that it is possible to identify general human needs from an ideological standpoint, as well as a practice of solving certain problems through technocratic means.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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