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Scientizing Gender? An Examination of Anti-Gender Campaigns on Social Media, Norway

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Populism and Science in Europe

Part of the book series: Palgrave Studies in European Political Sociology ((PSEPS))


This chapter examines anti-gender campaigns in Norway, a country often considered a haven for gender equality and LGBTQI+ rights. Recent years have seen global mobilizations that target gender diversity and sexual rights as urgent threats to national identity and social security. Anti-gender campaigns mobilize ‘gender’ and ‘science’ to posit transgender and queer populations and activist mobilizations as counter to biological ‘facts’ and moral values, and hence as threats to societal stability. To date, scholarship on anti-gender and reactionary mobilizations has typically focused on Eastern or Southern Europe, but as this chapter demonstrates, anti-science ideology is also a central discursive tactics for anti-gender campaigners in Norway. By way of analyzing four select Twitter accounts’ discourse over a 12-month period, I demonstrate the ways in which anti-gender campaigns seek to influence public opinion and policy making, and their connections to reactionary transnational movements. I argue that Norway’s anti-gender campaigns and movements must be taken very seriously as they—seen in a geopolitical context—represent a reactionary populist backlash to basic human rights principles, and even democracy itself.

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  1. 1.

    Legislation: LOV-2016-06-17-46, Law Amending the Legal Status.

  2. 2.

    For pertinent critiques of the Nordic model in gender equality, minority rights, democracy and societal welfare terms, see Alm, E., L. Berg, M. Lundahl, A. Johansson, P. Laskar, L. Martinsson, D. Mulinari, C. Wasshede (eds.) 2021. Pluralistic Struggles in Gender, Sexuality and Coloniality: Challenging Swedish Exceptionalism. London, New York: Palgrave; Keskinen, S., U. D. Skaptadottir, M. Toivanen (eds.) 2019. Undoing Homogeneity in the Nordic Region: Migration, Difference and the Politics of Solidarity. London and New York: Routledge; Engebretsen, E. L. and M. Liinason (eds). Transforming Identities in Contemporary Europe. New York and London: Routledge. Forthcoming.

  3. 3.

    For relevant publications on Norway, see Alm & Engebretsen, 2020; Fangen, 2020; Nadim et al., 2021.

  4. 4.

    Between 2008 and 2016, the amended full name of LLH was “the national organization for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transpersons” (Landsforeningen for lesbiske, homofile, bifile og transpersoner).

  5. 5.

    The LLH organization was established in November 1992 when the former DNF-48 (Den norske foreningen av 1948), Norway’s first gay and lesbian organization, established in 1953 as a nationally independent organization, but in the years 1948–1953 it was a filial of the Danish lesbian and gay organization DNF) joined ranks with the Fellesrådet for lesbiske og homofile organisasjoner i Norge (FHO), made up of a series of local gay and lesbian groups in Norway (Skeivt Arkiv, 2015).

  6. 6.

    For more information about Andrew Doyle:


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Correspondence to Elisabeth L. Engebretsen .

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Engebretsen, E.L. (2022). Scientizing Gender? An Examination of Anti-Gender Campaigns on Social Media, Norway. In: Eslen–Ziya, H., Giorgi, A. (eds) Populism and Science in Europe . Palgrave Studies in European Political Sociology. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-97534-0

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-030-97535-7

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