Disciplinary power: Text and body in the Swedish NATO debate, journals.sagepub.com

Linus Hagström, professor i statsvetenskap

This article draws on identity construction, emotions and a notion of productive power to address the question of why Swedish policymakers and public opinion are becoming increasingly supportive of NATO membership. It contributes theoretically by arguing that such textual phenomena intertwine with ‘disciplinary power’, which operates on the bodies of the subjects of power, exposing them to verbal and physical sanctions, a host of complex feelings and enhanced levels of self-disciplining.

The article analyses 354 editorials and op-eds related to Sweden and NATO, published in the four biggest Swedish newspapers in 2014–2018; 1408 tweets, with a focus on 14 selected NATO campaigners and their advocacy; and semi-structured interviews with 12 such influencers. It concludes that Swedish NATO campaigners produce and negotiate emotional discourses in a way that targets other influencers and potential influencers by exposing them to ridicule and allegations of treason. While tendencies are similar on both sides of the debate, the article demonstrates that productive power currently intertwines with disciplinary power in a way that makes anti-NATO advocacy seem more fraught with personal risk than pro-NATO campaigning, and joining NATO appear to be the most normal, realistic and responsible policy option. Läs artikel