From Propaganda to Image Building: Four Phases of Swedish Election Poster History
Election posters have been an important part of the Swedish campaign culture ever since the breakthrough of democracy in the beginning of the twentieth century. Even though new campaign channels have emerged, posters still play a significant role in election campaigns.
This paper is based on analyses—quantitative as well as qualitative—of the content of Swedish election posters in the Swedish general elections from 1911 until 2010. Using more than 1400 posters from a database consisting of 2300, the paper aims to distinguish different phases of election posters in the history of election campaigns. The theoretical framework lies within campaign research and periodization of campaigning, where there have been made a number of attempts to identify the development of campaigning distinguishing different periods.
In the analysis both aspects of expression and content are used to identify different phases of election poster history. Expression aspects are choice of color, type of images and its context, logotypes and visual elements, intermediality, and inspiration from other genres such as commercial advertising and satire cartoons. Content aspects are the use of negative campaigning, type of argumentation, use of facts (statistics), personalization, and how the citizen is framed, and political issues are connected to the situational political context.
Four distinct phases are identified in the election posters: (1) ideological struggle and propaganda 1911–1936, (2) welfare state and progressive rhetoric 1944–1958, (3) bloc politics and aesthetics of advertising 1960–1988, and (4) struggle for trust and image 1991–2010.
KeywordsWelfare State Political Communication Election Campaign Party Leader Centre Party
- Bodin, S., Nycop, C. A., & Åkerström, Å. (Eds.). (1979). Affischernas kamp: Socialdemokraterna 90 år. Stockholm: Sveriges socialdemokratiska arbetareparti.Google Scholar
- Håkansson, N. (2012). Who is the Citizen? A Century of Voter Appeals in Swedish Election Posters in Light of Changing Voting Behavior and Political Communication. Paper presented at the 4th ECREA ECC conference, Istanbul, 24–27.10, 2012.Google Scholar
- Håkansson, N., Johansson, B., & Vigsø, O. (2014). Politik i det offentliga rummet: Svenska valaffischer 1911–2010. Stockholm: Carlssons förlag.Google Scholar
- Hollander, S., Rassuli, K., Farlow Dix, L., & Jones, D. G. Brian. (2005, June). Periodization in marketing history. Journal of Micromarketing, 25(1), 32–41. doi: 10.1177/0276146705274982.
- Johansson, B. (2014). Negativity in the public space. Comparing hundred years of negative campaigning on election posters in Sweden. In M. J. Canel & K. Voltmer (Eds.), Comparing political communication across time and space. London: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Nielsen, P. (2007). Ett decennium med personval: Erfarenheter och utfall. Stockholm: Fritzes.Google Scholar
- Nittve, L., & Lindahl, B. (1979). Svenska valaffischer: En studie av perioden 1920–1976. Stockholm: Akademilitteratur.Google Scholar
- Sundling, J. (2009). Rösta! Om PR, prylar och påverkan. Skövde: Stenberg-Schentz Förlag.Google Scholar
- Vigsø, O. (2004). Valretorik i text och bild. En studie i 2002 års svenska valaffischer. Skrifter utgivna av institutionen för nordiska språk vid Uppsala universitet 66. Uppsala: Institutionen för nordiska språk.Google Scholar
- Westrin, J. (2008). Den moderata bilden. Stockholm: Ekerlid.Google Scholar