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Monarchical Manoeuvres: Gender, Nation and the Boundary Problem in Post-War Swedish Constitutional Development
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.
2013 (English)In: NORA: Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research, ISSN 0803-8740, E-ISSN 1502-394X, Vol. 21, no 3, 172-186 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The Swedish monarchy is often regarded as a purely symbolic institution. Since the constitutional reforms of the mid-1970s, the head of state has lacked formal political power, and rules of succession have been gender-neutral since 1980. This article examines how the monarchy is constitutionally negotiated and the consequences this has for representations of nation and gender. I argue that the constitutional underpinnings of the Swedish monarchy naturalize the idea of a national community. This analysis elucidates the specific dynamics by which political discourse, such as constitutional texts, successfully establishes a supposedly apolitical domain. I also demonstrate the consequences, in terms of norms and ideals regarding gender, sexuality, and family life, of the present constitutional design. The analysis is based on official political documents and debates from the post-war period. Following a section on the evolution of the current regulations surrounding the monarchy, the paper analyses political discourse on the form of government in light of the boundary problem, namely, on what basis can a legitimate people (demos) be affirmed? I demonstrate that the monarchy gives Swedish democracy a national foundation; a legitimate demos is established through the idea of a pre-political national community, personified by the royal family and codified in the hereditary order of succession. In relation to nation and gender, the monarchy connects Swedish nationalism to representations of “blood” and genetic descent. One important conclusion is that the way the Swedish monarchy is constitutionally upheld works against attempts to challenge politically and discuss Swedish nationalism and its relationship to conservative gender norms. Another conclusion is that the monarchy's hereditary principle runs the risk of obstructing free and unfettered discussion of constitutional issues.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2013. Vol. 21, no 3, 172-186 p.
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Political Science
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-97492DOI: 10.1080/08038740.2013.808261OAI: diva2:678441
Available from: 2013-12-12 Created: 2013-12-12 Last updated: 2014-02-14Bibliographically approved

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Åse, Cecilia
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