“Sweden Has Been Naïve”: Nationalism, Protectionism and Securitisation in Response to the Refugee Crisis of 2015

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

“Sweden Has Been Naïve”: Nationalism, Protectionism and Securitisation in Response to the Refugee Crisis of 2015


  • Mathias Ericson Department of Cultural Sciences, Gothenburg University, Sweden


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Abstract:  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 The article shows how progressive and egalitarian ideals were viewed as outdated and naïve, but at the same time put forward as core values worthy of protection.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 naïve” 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.

Keywords:  gender; migration; neoliberalism; protectionism; refugee crisis; risk; securitisation; Sweden; welfare state

Published:   22 November 2018


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v6i4.1512


© Mathias Ericson. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.