Nordic progressivism in global opinion
- Between Sweden-bashing and joint Nordic region branding
- Name: Carl Marklund
- Academic credentials: History, political science, PhD, Södertörn University
Abstract: Internationally, Scandinavia is often associated with progressive values and extensive welfare systems. This generally positive image plays a central part in the Nordic Council’s recent initiative for joint regional branding of the Nordic countries directed at global public opinion. However, there is a recent tendency towards greater fragmentation in the image of the Nordic countries, not only globally but also within and between the Nordic countries themselves on precisely the scope of solidarity, the meaning of multiculturalism, and the reach of the welfare state. Here, international media associated with right wing anti-globalism are increasingly singling out Sweden among the Nordic countries as a “warning example,” often based on fake news items and unverifiable statements. Originally a marginal feature in the conceptual universe of anti-globalism, this perspective has over the past few years developed into a genre of its own, which is often sourced from the growing intra-Nordic debate on precisely solidarity, multiculturalism, and welfare. This paper tracks how this tendency towards “Sweden-bashing” is becoming a salient feature in the contemporary Sweden image abroad and how Swedish public diplomacy seeks to address it, in particular with regard to the task of launching a platform for joint Nordic regional branding. In so doing, the paper analyzes the growing disparity and fragmentation of the image of the Nordic countries in global circulation, asking to what extent these critical exchanges may strengthen or weaken global perceptions of Nordic progressivism.
Theme: Scandinavia in the Eyes of the World