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Policing Violent Extremism: How the Global War on Terror Meandered Into Local Municipal Policies in Sweden

Journal article
Authors Christer Mattsson
Published in Sage Open
Volume 9
Issue 1
ISSN 2158-2440
Publication year 2019
Published at Segerstedt Institute
Language en
Keywords radicalization, policy studies, education, pedagogical work, prevention of violent extremism
Subject categories Pedagogical Work, Pedagogy, Public Administration Studies


The present article analyzes Swedish local municipal action plans for prevention of violent extremism. Sweden began adopting local policies for detection and prevention of violent extremism in 2015. Until today, about 40% of Swedish municipalities have done so. The present article examines how policy ideas have been transferred from abroad and the transnational level into a national Swedish discourse and has continually, via vertical transfer, ended up in local municipalities. This is seemingly being done without any profound understanding of or reflection on local needs, that is, the presence of violent extremist groups or other forms of violent radicalization. A major focus in these plans, as revealed in the study, is on instructing school and social welfare agencies to develop systems for detecting risk signals and instructing, among others, teachers to search for and report pupils who might be radicalized to the police or the security police. These policy ideas are then horizontally transferred to neighboring municipalities. The article, making use of critical discourse analyses, investigates the consequences for the teaching profession, as regards changing the preconditions for social practice, which might occur when teachers are instructed to monitor their pupils’ thoughts and behavior.

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