The symbolic potential of security: on collective emotions in Swedish criminal policy discourse

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  • 1 Stockholm University, , Sweden
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The emotions and experiences of the public have become of increasingly prominent concern in criminal policy debates in Western countries. In Sweden, the concepts of trygghet (security) and otrygghet (insecurity) are often used during discussions on public safety and fear of crime. In this article, I address how the Swedish concept of (in)security is politically constructed in the criminal policy discourse, by scrutinising the political debate taking place prior to Swedish general elections in the 21st century. By analysing the symbolic potential of the concept of security, I demonstrate how people are encouraged to turn towards the welfare state and its associated values to feel secure and how collective emotions such as trust and solidarity play a key role in enhancing the emotional tone of the discourse. By relating the political discourse on crime and (in)security to the welfare state context, the aim of this article is to further our understanding of how a culture of insecurity and a normative order of emotions manifest in Sweden. In the concluding discussion, I address some of the consequences of the discourse: in particular, the potentially unifying and solidarity-producing, as well as exclusionary, effects.

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  • 1 Stockholm University, , Sweden

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