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Challenges to Swedish identity and sovereignty

Neutrality as a concept and practice has long been conceptualised in IR theory as problematic. Broadly seen as the tool of small and weak states with dubious moral credentials, a limited understanding of neutrality has persisted from the Peloponnesian War to the ‘war on terror’. Furthermore, as globalisation and non-traditional security problems animate international politics, neutrality is seen as a policy of the past. This book argues that neutrality has been a neglected and misunderstood subject, limited to realist understandings of war and viable statecraft, and in doing so aims to uncover the normative strands of neutrality that mesh with identity, security and alternatives to the anarchic international order. Using Sweden as a case study, it explores the domestic roots of neutrality via a constructivist analysis, examining how neutrality is embedded in ideas of self, and part of a wider Social Democratic vision of active internationalism. Identity, however, is malleable and subject to change, and this analysis also considers the impact of globalisation and European integration, the end of bipolarity, and new security threats such as global terrorism on neutrality as an idea and a practice.

Rethinking neutrality through constructivism

them. How this form of identity is created and sustained depends on a number of factors. Collective meanings, norms and culture play a role, but for some constructivists (such as Wendt), identity and action are sufficiently explained through these variables. This form of constructivism, or what Reus-Smit calls ‘third image’ 4 constructivism, provides some explanation of the social construction of

in The social construction of Swedish neutrality

8 Infrastructures, borders, (im)mobility, or  the material and social construction of  new Europe The pathos of all bourgeois monuments is that their material strength and solidity actually count for nothing and carry no weight at all, that they are blown away like frail reeds by the very forces of capitalist development that they celebrate. Even the most beautiful and impressive bourgeois buildings and public works are disposable, capitalized for fast depreciation and planned to be obsolete, closer in their social functions to tents and encampments than to

in The road
Paving the path for a new identity

Swedish social democracy was presented with a new set of challenges in the 1970s and 1980s, both domestically and externally. As the Swedish Model faced ruptures internally, social forces challenged the established idea of Swedish identity and society nurtured by the Social Democratic Party. The possibility of European integration and shifts in Social Democratic ideology would pave the way for a reconsideration of Swedish identity that underpinned the consensus on neutrality.

in The social construction of Swedish neutrality
Implications for neutrality and sovereignty

This final substantive chapter considers the implications of European integration, globalisation and new security threats such as global terrorism for neutrality. Exploring the tensions between identity, security policy and the broader post-9/11 environment, it examines the likely shape and persistence of neutrality as a security policy, and the implications of its demise.

in The social construction of Swedish neutrality
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The failure of neutrality?
in The social construction of Swedish neutrality
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in The social construction of Swedish neutrality
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From the Peloponnesian War to the Cold War

This chapter traces the development of neutrality from the Peloponnesian War to the Cold War in order to uncover the meanings and associations that became attached to the concept and practice. It examines its treatment in legal philosophy, its relationship to the rise of sovereignty, and the dominance of the realist conceptualisation of neutrality, which contained contradictory understandings of the place of the neutral state in the anarchic international system.

in The social construction of Swedish neutrality
Active internationalism and ‘credible neutrality’

In the post-war years, Swedish social democracy developed into a hegemonic political force, and with it, neutrality took on a more defined meaning. Determined to ensure that neutrality would not be subject to the criticism it faced after the war, a ‘credible neutrality’ policy was crafted, centred around non-alliance, self-defence and consensus. Active internationalism characterised Sweden's foreign and security policy, and Sweden's ‘good offices’ as a neutral state cohered with domestic institutions such as the welfare state and the Swedish Model.

in The social construction of Swedish neutrality
Sweden as an EU member state

Although Bildt's government was short-lived, the impact of Swedish politics and society was not insignificant. When the Social Democrats returned to power, they steered Sweden into the EU. This presented a particular challenge to neutrality for a European Union that had ambitions to develop a common security policy.

in The social construction of Swedish neutrality