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"Sweden Has Been Naive": Nationalism, Protectionism and Securitisation in Response to the Refugee Crisis of 2015

Journal article
Authors Mathias Ericson
Published in Social Inclusion
Volume 6
Issue 4
Pages 95-102
ISSN 2183-2803
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Cultural Sciences
Pages 95-102
Language en
Keywords gender, migration, neoliberalism, protectionism, refugee crisis, risk, securitisation, Sweden, welfare, politics, logic, Social Issues, Social Sciences
Subject categories International Migration and Ethnic Relations


Fake news, disinformation campaigns, xenophobia, political resentment, and a general backlash on equality issues mark the current political climate. In this context, the idealism of the Swedish welfare state has gained a specific symbolic value. This article investigates how the idealisation of Sweden as a modern and gender-equal country was articulated as a focal point in the establishment of threat and crisis narratives in the political debate of the refugee crisis of 2015. The article shows how progressive and egalitarian ideals were viewed as outdated and naive, but at the same time put forward as core values worthy of protection. The title refers to the statement made by the Swedish Prime Minister in 2015 stating that "Sweden has been naive" and serves as an example of how the myth of Sweden as an exceptionally modern, secular, and equal society was evoked in processes of securitisation, nationalistic protectionism, and normalisation of xenophobia. The article concludes that the articulation of Swedish exceptionalism in the establishment of threat and crisis narratives may reproduce and enhance social inequality and polarisation.

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