Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2439

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Legitimating Policy Branding: Constructing “Sellability” of Sweden’s Feminist Foreign Policy

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Abstract:  This article examines how foreign policy branding is legitimated as a response to human rights crises. Drawing on legitimation theory (van Leeuwen, 2007), this study takes a discourse perspective with a focus on the enactment of foreign policy in communication and argues that legitimacy is the foundation for constructing a convincing and credible image of a country and its foreign policy. Building on the example of Sweden’s feminist foreign policy and an analysis of relevant policy documents, three themes were formulated. These illustrate that Sweden’s feminist foreign policy branding was legitimated by framing the policy as a form of “good” activism, creating a knowledge brand of the policy, and aligning the policy branding with established discourses of solidarity. Thus, the study suggests that a branding logic imposed by the attention economy leads foreign policy communication to focus on constructing “sellability” of foreign policy, legitimating it in ways that make it relatable to wider publics. This article contributes to foreign policy communication research through the conceptual development of foreign policy branding.

Keywords:  branding logic; discourse; feminist foreign policy; foreign policy branding; government communication; legitimation; Sweden



© Isabelle Karlsson. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.