Advertisement

Place Branding and Public Diplomacy

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 55–63 | Cite as

Taming feminism? The place of gender equality in the ‘Progressive Sweden’ brand

  • Katarzyna JezierskaEmail author
  • Ann Towns
Original Article

Abstract

As prior work on nation branding in Japan, Canada and Iceland has shown, gender can be an important component in nation branding. This article looks at the evolution of the idea of gender equality as a “Swedish” trait, from the initial incorporation of gender equality in Swedish state identity in the 1990s to contemporary nation branding. Based on standard discourse analysis of branding documents, branding websites and social media presence administered by the public diplomacy agency, the Swedish Institute, we show that gender equality remains a central pillar in the “Progressive Sweden” brand. In contrast with other national brands, “Progressive Sweden” is devoid of the more androcentric narratives and sexually objectifying representations of women. However, the “Progressive Sweden” narrative sports its own peculiarities, as it presents a liberal dreamscape that slides between utopian ideals and generalizations about “Sweden” as a unified actor whose population shares behaviors and goals. Discord and political struggle are written out of this narrative. Despite its rhetorical centrality in Swedish foreign policy, feminism thus disappears from view in the “Progressive Sweden” brand. The article ends with some considerations for the future of Swedish nation branding.

Keywords

Nation branding Sweden Gender equality Feminism Feminist foreign policy 

References

  1. Arbetsliv. 2016. Svensk arbetsmarknad starkt könsuppdelad. Arbetsliv March 23, 2016. http://www.prevent.se/arbetsliv/ovrigt/2016/svensk-arbetsmarknad-starkt-konsuppdelad/. Accessed 10 Sept 2017.
  2. Aronczyk, Melissa. 2013. Branding the Nation: The Global Business of National Identity. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aronczyk, Melissa. 2017. Nation branding: A twenty-first century tradition. In Nation Branding in Modern History, ed. C. Viktorin, M. Will, J. Gienow-Hecht, and A. Estner. New York: Berghahn Books.Google Scholar
  4. BBC News. 2017. Sweden to Trump: What Happened Last Night? Feb 19, 2017. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39020962. Accessed 10 Sept 2017.
  5. Christensen, Christian. 2013. @Sweden: Curating a nation on Twitter. Popular Communication 11 (1): 30–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Föräkringskassan. 2016. Föräldrapenning och yrke. Korta Analyser 2016: 1.Google Scholar
  7. IKEM. 2016. Varför väljer tjejerna bort teknik? Innovations-och kemiindustrierna i Sverige, July 8, 2016. http://www.ikem.se/publicerat/stories/varfor-valjer-kvinnor-bort-teknik. Accessed 10 Sept 2017.
  8. Jansen, Sue Curry. 2008. Designer Nations: Neoliberal Nation Branding – Brand Estonia. Social Identities 14 (1): 121–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Kaneva, Nadia. 2011. Nation Branding: Toward an Agenda for Critical Research. International Journal of Communication 5: 117–141.Google Scholar
  10. Kaneva, Nadia. 2016. Nation Branding and Commercial Nationalism: Notes for a Materialist Critique. In Commercial Nationalism Selling the Nation and Nationalizing the Sell, ed. Zala Volcic, and Mark Andrejevic. London: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  11. Kaneva, Nadia, and Delia Popescu. 2011. National Identity Lite: Nation Branding in post-Communist Romania and Bulgaria. International Journal of Cultural Studies 14 (2): 191–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kerr, Pauline, and Geoffrey Wiseman. 2013. Diplomacy in a Globalizing World: Theories and Practice. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Kollega. 2015. Många vill bli ingenjörer - vad är problemet? Kollega Sept 3, 2015. https://www.kollega.se/manga-vill-bli-ingenjorer-vad-ar-problemet. Accessed 10 Sept 2017.
  14. Loftsdóttir, Kristín. 2015. The Exotic North: Gender, Nation Branding and Post-colonialism in Iceland. NORA: Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research 23 (4): 246–260.Google Scholar
  15. Löfgren, Orvar. 1993. Nationella arenor. In Försvenskningen av Sverige: Det nationellas förvandlingar, ed. B. Ehn, et al., 21–117. Stockholm: Natur och Kultur.Google Scholar
  16. Miller, Laura. 2011. Cute masquerade and the pimping of Japan. International Journal of Japanese Sociology 20 (1): 18–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Nilsson, Ann-Sofie. 1991. Den moraliska stormakten. Stockholm: Timbro.Google Scholar
  18. Pamment, James. 2013. New Public Diplomacy in the 21st Century: a Comparative Study of Policy and Practice. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  19. Pamment, James. 2017. Sweden’s Public Diplomacy Must Adapt to Its New Global Role. Blog post on the University of Southern California’s Center on Public Diplomacy Blog, April 24, 2017. http://uscpublicdiplomacy.org/blog/swedens-public-diplomacy-must-adapt-its-new-global-role Accessed 15 Jun 2017.
  20. Radio Sweden. 2017. Nation Reacts to Trump’s ‘Last Night in Sweden’ Comment. Radio Sweden, Feb 20, 2017. http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=6635069. Accessed 6 Sept 2017.
  21. Rankin, Pauline L. 2012. Gender and nation branding in ‘The True North Strong and Free’. Place Branding and Public Diplomacy 8 (4): 257–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ruth, Arne. 1984. The Second New Nation: The Mythology of Modern Sweden. Daedalus 113: 53–96.Google Scholar
  23. SOU (Statens Offentliga Utredningar). 1993. EG, kvinnorna och välfärden: social välfärd och jämställdhet mellan kvinnor och män i ett europeiskt perspektiv, 117. Stockholm: Fritze.Google Scholar
  24. Sveriges regering. 2017. Facts about migration and crime in Sweden. http://www.government.se/articles/2017/02/facts-about-migration-and-crime-in-sweden/. Accessed 10 Sept 2017.
  25. Swedish Institute. 2017. About SI. https://eng.si.se/about-si/. Accessed 5 Sept 2017.
  26. The Independent. 2017. Nigel Farage Echoes Donald Trump by Claiming Sweden is ‘Rape Capital’ of Europe. This is Why They’re Wrong. The Independent, Feb 21, 2017. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/nigel-farage-sweden-donald-trump-rape-capital-of-europe-refugees-malmo-why-wrong-debunked-claim-a7591636.html. Accessed 10 Sept 2017.
  27. The Local. 2017. Swedish Embassy Offers to ‘Inform’ Trump after ‘Last Night in Sweden’ Explanation. The Local Feb 20, 2017. https://www.thelocal.se/20170220/sweden-offers-to-inform-trump-after-last-night-in-sweden-explanation. Accessed 8 Sept 2017.
  28. Towns, Ann. 2002. Paradoxes of (In)Equality: Something is Rotten in the Gender Equal State of Sweden. Cooperation & Conflict 37 (2): 157–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Towns, Ann, Eyre Joshua, and Erika Karlsson. 2014. The equality conundrum. Gender and nation in the ideology of the Sweden Democrats. Party Politics 20 (2): 237–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Valaskivi, Katja. 2016. Circulating a fashion: Performance of nation branding in Finland and Sweden. Place Branding and Public Diplomacy 12 (2–3): 139–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Varga, Somogy. 2013. The Politics of Nation Branding Collective Identity and Public sphere in the Neoliberal State. Philosophy and Social Criticism 39 (8): 825–845.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Volcic, Zala, and Mark Andrejevic. 2011. Nation Branding in the Era of Commercial Nationalism. International Journal of Communication 5: 598–618.Google Scholar

Primary sourcces

  1. Official Facebook, Instagram and Youtube of Sweden.Google Scholar
  2. Sweden.se and sharingsweden.se (official websites/gateways to Sweden).Google Scholar

General branding strategy documents

  1. Swedish Institute. 2007. Sverigebilden. Google Scholar
  2. Nämnden för Sverigefrämjande i utlandet (NSU). 2009. Progressiv kommunikation i praktiken. https://si.se/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Progressiv-kommunikation-i-praktiken.pdf.
  3. Nämnden för Sverigefrämjande i utlandet (NSU). 2014a. Sverigebildsstrategi (pdf from power point presentation). http://sharingsweden.se/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Sverigebildstrategin-kort-Sweden-Sans-3.pdf.
  4. Nämnden för Sverigefrämjande i utlandet (NSU). 2014b. Strategi för arbetet med Sverigebilden i utlandet (shorter version). http://sharingsweden.se/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Sverigefoldern-svenska-i-A5-format.pdf. The shorter version is also available in English at http://sharingsweden.se/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Sverigefoldern-engelska-i-A5-format.pdf.
  5. Nämnden för Sverigefrämjande i utlandet (NSU). 2017. 2.0 Strategi för arbetet med Sverigebilden i utlandet - en vägledning http://sharingsweden.se/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Strategi-2.0-f%C3%B6r-arbetet-med-Sverigebilden-i-utlandet.pdf.

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Business, Economics and ITUniversity WestTrollhättanSweden
  2. 2.University of GothenburgGothenburgSweden

Personalised recommendations