The digital storytelling of feminist foreign policy: Sweden’s state feminism in digital diplomacy

View author details View Less
  • 1 Lund University, , Sweden
Open access
Get eTOC alerts
Rights and permissions Cite this article

This article interrogates the digital storytelling of Sweden’s feminist foreign policy. Drawing on scholarship on state feminism and digital diplomacy, it shows how digital platforms offer opportunities to reproduce narratives of state feminism through storytelling. We propose that digital diplomacy is used to advance feminist foreign policy through emotional sense-making that requires the telling of personal stories. The article provides a narrative analysis of the stories of women and girls that symbolise and embody feminist foreign policy, and the way in which they are communicated by the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The article concludes by noting that the digital storytelling of feminist foreign policy allows the Ministry for Foreign Affairs to communicate to a wider digital audience. These stories, however, run the risk of obscuring the feminist ambitions of feminist foreign policy by insufficiently considering the gendered injustices that undergird the global gender order and by bringing together seemingly incompatible stories of feminist exceptionalism and success.

Abstract

This article interrogates the digital storytelling of Sweden’s feminist foreign policy. Drawing on scholarship on state feminism and digital diplomacy, it shows how digital platforms offer opportunities to reproduce narratives of state feminism through storytelling. We propose that digital diplomacy is used to advance feminist foreign policy through emotional sense-making that requires the telling of personal stories. The article provides a narrative analysis of the stories of women and girls that symbolise and embody feminist foreign policy, and the way in which they are communicated by the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The article concludes by noting that the digital storytelling of feminist foreign policy allows the Ministry for Foreign Affairs to communicate to a wider digital audience. These stories, however, run the risk of obscuring the feminist ambitions of feminist foreign policy by insufficiently considering the gendered injustices that undergird the global gender order and by bringing together seemingly incompatible stories of feminist exceptionalism and success.

Key messages

  • Digital storytelling has been adopted as a way of advancing Sweden’s feminist foreign policy to a wider audience.

  • The digital storytelling of Swedish feminist foreign policy draws heavily on Sweden’s state feminist legacy.

  • Sweden’s feminist foreign policy in digital diplomacy serves to connect emotions to political sense-making through success stories.

  • The emphasis on success stories silences intersectional voices and risks undermining the ambitions of feminist foreign policy.

Introduction

State feminism has defined Swedish policymaking since the 1970s. It is rooted in the idea that the adoption of policies that facilitate women’s full participation in the labour market and equal representation in formal politics will contribute to gender equality across society. Sweden’s state feminist tradition therefore provided fertile ground for the adoption of an explicitly feminist foreign policy (FFP) in 2014. Thus, ‘the cultural subjectivities of Sweden’s conduct of state feminism’ are ‘inscribed in the country’s foreign policy tradition’ (Bergman Rosamond, 2013: 329). FFP primarily seeks to correct women’s lack of ‘rights, representation and resources’ by staying attentive to the reality on the ground. However, the Swedish government has been less prone to unpack the gendered dichotomies that undergird global politics by equating gender equality with women and girls.1 The focus on women and girls also prevails in Sweden’s externalisation and ‘branding’ of FFP to a wide audience.

We argue here that Sweden’s FFP has evolved out of a repackaging of the narratives that inform the country’s long-standing state feminist tradition (Bergman Rosamond, 2020). This repackaging has been paired with active usages of ‘digital diplomacy’ by the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA) to project Sweden’s innovative FFP goals externally, in line with its efforts to manage its online reputation and digital nation brand beyond borders (Bjola and Holmes, 2015). Since the adoption of FFP, Sweden’s digital footprint in social media is increasingly shaped by feminist values, in what amounts to ‘feminist digital diplomacy’: ‘a method and normative platform whereby states and other actors employ digital means to highlight their commitment to the transformation of gendered injustices in global relations’ (Aggestam et al, 2021: 2). The digital communication of FFP is rooted in typically Swedish state feminist values, global commitments to gender justice and promises of success and concrete results. The digital projection of FFP is constructed through a discursive balancing of Sweden’s historical feminist legacy and its self-identity as an innovative feminist nation, committed to success and transformative change beyond borders. This narrative is sustained by references to Sweden’s feminist leadership in domestic and global politics, with a range of Swedish and external voices being projected in the official narration of FFP. Notably, there is a wish to illustrate the continuity between past and present through key figures whose interventions and actions have been key to Sweden’s state feminist project, and who are being given voice in the country’s digital storytelling of FFP. Hence, digital diplomacy helps to advance FFP by externalising the meta-narrative of Swedish state feminism and by renegotiating the country’s self-identity as an exceptionally gender-aware state, being the first nation to adopt a feminist platform for its foreign policy.

Guiding our investigation is the question of whether digital storytelling serves to strengthen and legitimise the externalisation of Swedish FFP, or whether it is the case that the explicit feminist ambitions of Swedish foreign policy are lost through digital storytelling. To date, there has been little scholarship on the ways in which digital adaptation shapes the narration of FFP, either in Sweden or elsewhere. Thus, our article seeks to fill this gap by drawing on feminist and digital scholarship in international relations (IR), which enables a critical interrogation of ‘feminist digital diplomacy’.

Our analysis centres on the digital storytelling of FFP through social media to embody the outward projection of Sweden’s state feminism to a wider audience, sustaining a narrative of success. We draw on Annick Wibben’s (2011) feminist narrative approach, which is based on two distinct modes of narration: the external voice that retells the stories of other individuals; and the internal voice that tells stories of the self. We also draw on Laura Shepherd’s (2021) recent work on feminist narration and the ways in which stories of success take various narrative forms to produce different political effects. We show that Sweden’s feminist digital diplomacy is told through a number of stories of lived experience. By centring on the stories of individuals, both as symbols and as independent voices, the Swedish MFA, we argue, seeks to evoke emotional responses in audiences to convince them of the importance and success of FFP. We should note here that we do not seek to shed light on the composition of those audiences; rather, we explore the ways in which FFP is represented by Sweden.

We commence by locating our article within scholarship on the digital management of Sweden’s state image, in particular, by exploring how state feminism is entangled in state representations and nation branding. We argue that the digital storytelling of feminist-informed state discourses may both advance and obstruct feminist digital diplomacy. We then provide a methodological section that departs from a feminist approach to narrative analysis (Wibben, 2011; Shepherd, 2021). Our analysis traces Sweden’s feminist digital diplomacy through stories that enable the portrayal of FFP as successful. These stories are typically rooted in Sweden’s commitment to gender equality globally through both historical continuity and transformative change, thus excluding other stories that do not fit the demands of the digital platforms employed by the MFA. To conclude, we suggest that digital storytelling enables the Swedish MFA to create a success narrative around FFP by combining modes of narration and stories that frame its origin and roles in a range of ways, and, in so doing, seeking to appeal to multiple audiences, albeit running the risk of obscuring the feminist ambitions of FFP.

The branding of the state: digitalisation and feminism

IR scholarship on the use of digital platforms for the purpose of political representation often focuses on the digital branding of states. Such research investigates the role of digital media in the recognition of state identity (Duncombe, 2019), the effects of digitalisation in the outreach of strategic narratives (Miskimmon et al, 2013) and the ways in which digital platforms empower representation practices at the front line of diplomacy (Cooper and Cornut, 2019). Leaders, states, governments and ministries of foreign affairs increasingly use social media to project their images, enabling them to manage their influence among domestic and global publics (Hedling, 2020). Thus, digital diplomacy has changed states’ management of their nation brands, and this has amplified the reach and role of public diplomacy in global politics.

A central component of states’ efforts to conduct digital diplomacy lies in the projection and recognition of their nation brand, which depends on their ability to attract digital audiences. Engagement refers to interactions with foreign publics that take place through listening, advocacy, cultural diplomacy and news/international broadcasting (Cull, 2019). Digital engagement specifically refers to interactions that take place on digital platforms, leading to a variety of reactions. Such management of state images online reflects a market logic, allowing strategy and competition to shape representations of state identities, to the benefit of commercial and political elites (Kaneva, 2011). Critical approaches to ‘nation branding’ therefore assume that the management of state images is determined by international demands and results in ‘competitive identity practices’ (Browning and de Oliviera, 2017). Interrogating the process of nation branding is key to critical investigations of digital diplomacy because digital strategies and practices have amplified the role and reach of ‘branded’ state identities. Moreover, social media have profoundly changed the ways in which we consume information and what information we are attentive to (van Dijck, 2013). In the context of digital diplomacy, what is deemed appealing is determined by the demands of the online audiences that ‘consume’ the state image. Before considering how these demands shape the digital storytelling of nation brands, we discuss how and why Swedish state feminism is a key component of the Swedish nation brand and projections of exceptionalism.

State feminism: a key component of the Swedish nation brand

Sweden has been defined as a ‘state feminist’ actor that seeks to combine ‘feminism from above’, articulated in support for gender equality, social policy and women’s presence and representation in political parties and institutions, with civil society-driven ‘feminism from below’ (Hernes, 1987: 153; see also Lovenduski, 2005). Gender equality has been a key discursive theme in Swedish public debate since the 1960s, when the country experienced an increase in women’s participation in parliament (Sainsbury, 2005). In the 1970s, new legislative measures introduced more generous maternity leave and affordable childcare, enabling women to enter the labour market in larger numbers. State feminism refers to both women’s participation in public life and ‘the activities of feminists or femocrats in governance and administration, institutionalised feminism in public agencies … and the capacity of the state to contribute to the fulfilment of a feminist agenda’ (Lovenduski, 2005: 4). It involves ‘overcoming the traditional suspicious attitudes that many feminists have felt towards the patriarchal state’ (Kantola and Squires, 2012: 384).

State feminism is also a central feature of Sweden’s internationalist self-identity – a progressive and ‘good’ state committed to global gender equality and justice (Jezierska and Towns, 2018). This self-image has provided opportunities to exercise leadership in the promotion of gender equality beyond borders, not least within the frameworks of the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) (Browning, 2021). As Tryggestad (2014: 464) notes, state feminism enables ‘small states in the promotion or reinforcement of new ideas and emerging norms within international society’. However, Sweden’s state feminism is increasingly challenged by ‘globalization, regionalization, welfare state restructuring, privatization and the rise of multilevel governance’ (Kantola and Outshoot, 2007: 1; see also Kantola and Squires, 2012), all of which are associated with neoliberal economic ideas (Lane and Jordansson, 2020).

In 2014, the Swedish Red–Green coalition government decided not only to adopt an FFP, but also to transform the country’s system of governance and government in line with feminist principles of gender equality. Being a feminist government entails accepting ‘that gender equality is central to the government’s priorities – in decision-making and resource allocation’ – and ensuring that ‘a gender equality perspective is brought into policy-making on a broad front, both nationally and internationally’ (Government Offices of Sweden, 2019). By adopting a feminist platform for foreign policy, Sweden indicated its commitment to global gender equality, with public diplomacy being a channel through which that commitment could be communicated (Karlsson, 2021). Sweden’s public and digital diplomacy coexist in its conduct of nation branding, with its government having sought to establish more political control of the country’s external brand and image since 2014 (Akerlund, 2020). The government has sought to integrate FFP into its wider nation brand to gain recognition for Sweden as the ‘strongest voice for gender equality and full enjoyment of human rights for all women and girls’ (Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 2015a).

While the Swedish government is committed to state feminism at home and abroad, it has not provided a definition of what kind of feminism it adheres to (Thomson, 2020). It tends to equate feminism with the rights of women and girls, employing strict gender binaries, rather than treating gender as a social construction and set of gendered power relations. Missing from visions of Swedish FFP is also an analysis of the ways in which it risks reproducing ‘existing relations of power, including gender power relations and Western liberal modes of domination’ (Robinson, 2019: 1). Nor does the government or the MFA fully take account of intersectional categories, such as class, age, ability, ethnicity and race (Aggestam and Bergman Rosamond, 2019; Aggestam et al, 2019). FFP has been critiqued for its economic and security trade-offs – Sweden continues to promote militarisation through arms exports and has recently applied for North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) membership in the face of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Moreover, there is little effort to pair the analysis of global gender injustice with the gendered inequalities and violence that exist in Swedish society. Hence, the relationship between state feminism and FFP is complex, in particular, the coupling of state feminism and neoliberalism, whereby FFP becomes a platform for the reproduction of mainstream liberal-democratic narratives (Rottenberg, 2014), rather than structural transformation. The catch-all approach to ‘do good’ feminism, however, has strengthened Sweden’s strategic self-image (Zhukova et al, 2021) and provided opportunities to project itself as an innovative and successful feminist state.

The external rebranding of the Swedish government in feminist language and the turn to FFP have therefore had implications for Sweden’s projection and management of its state image online. The communication of Swedish state feminism rests on notions of the country being mindful of gendered injustices and discrimination, exceeding the ambitions of other states, including the Nordic ones (Browning, 2021). The external self-narrative of Sweden has long centred on its comparably generous provisions of overseas development assistance, its support for the UN and active engagement in peacebuilding. However, that progressive self-narrative is now increasingly told through an FFP lens (Egnell, 2016).

Methodology: narratives, narration and stories

Previous research has investigated the projection of state feminism in FFP as a foreign policy doctrine and strategic narrative (Zhukova et al, 2021), shaping the reorientation of Sweden’s digital diplomacy (Aggestam et al, 2021). Jezierska (2021) has identified inconsistencies in the visibility and silencing of FFP discourse in social media. Here, we conduct an analysis of Sweden’s feminist digital diplomacy and the ways in which FFP draws on the repackaging of state feminism. We treat digital diplomacy as a set of online communication practices on digital platforms that enable political storytelling (Duncombe, 2019). The concept of ‘affordances’ enables understandings and analyses of the possibilities for goal-oriented actions of users of social media platforms (Bucher and Helmond, 2018). There is a range of conceptualisations of social media affordances that refer to the specific interfaces of different platforms. A common tendency is to study the political possibilities of emotional processes, that is, how social media connects emotions and political sense-making (Papacharissi, 2015; Giaxoglou et al, 2017). The ways in which social media platforms afford governments opportunities for visibility and reach are therefore instrumental to digital diplomacy (Hedling and Bremberg, 2021: 1619).

Our analysis draws on feminist narrative approaches that enable us to consider the ways in which digital storytelling, through affordances that connect emotions and political sense-making, advances Sweden’s FFP. Narratives are important channels through which politics is framed because ‘they are a primary way by which we make sense of the world around us, produce meanings, articulate intentions, and legitimise actions’ (Wibben, 2011: 2). Narration places emphasis on the person telling the story and the person whose story is being told. Wibben (2011: 47) suggests that there are external and internal narrators: the external narrator does not refer to themselves as a character in the story, while the internal one does. Moreover, the external narrator tells the story from a distance and may be perceived as more neutral than the internal one, with the latter often being embedded within distinct discursive contexts. Nonetheless, the external narrator can still narrate the experiences and life stories of particular individuals, though with less intimacy than internal first-person narrators, who use their own voices to articulate embodied lived experiences. Feminist narrative analysis therefore pays attention to the narrative, the narration (including the narrator) and the stories that are produced in the communication of foreign policy (Wibben, 2011; Shepherd, 2021). It is through narratives that a foreign policy agenda can reach a wider audience, with digital and social media offering unprecedented opportunities for such storytelling (see Miskimmon et al, 2013).

Narratives are political since they enable certain representations while restricting what meanings can be attached to others (Wibben, 2011: 43). Some narratives become normalised and widely accepted, while others remain marginalised and unheard (Wibben, 2011: 64). Some narratives contain diverse stories, while others exclude stories that challenge the coherence of the narrative. Sometimes, stories have to be reshaped and retold to adapt to the narrative in which they are articulated, as they otherwise risk not achieving the intended reactions. This may involve accepting that stories coexist with other stories, some of which contest the dominant ‘master narrative’ (Wibben, 2011: 65, 87, 101). Seriously considering narratives and how they are produced and sustained through narration and stories is therefore a political undertaking because it lays bare knowledge claims and the mechanisms through which politics is made sense of. Thus, paying attention to narratives is key to feminist IR’s call for considering embodied experiences and lived histories, and staying attentive to everyday marginalised voices in times of war and peace (Enloe, 2010; Sylvester, 2013). Shepherd (2021: 27) contends that a narrative approach ‘should pay attention to which stories are told and when, and which stories are (dis)counted, because exploring the political effects of organising and communicating knowledge in narrative form reveals much about how power operates’. Narratives, then, enable representations and narrations that establish distinct power relations between subjects and agents. Whether the story is happy or sad sets the emotional boundaries for audiences’ responses to the messages conveyed. Stories that pertain to success, for example, are more likely to produce positive affective responses than stories of failure.

In the following, we investigate the digital storytelling of FFP, in particular, Sweden’s official digital footprint in the projection of FFP on websites and social media since 2014. We focus on official contents published by the Swedish MFA, either on the public diplomacy website Swedish Foreign Policy Stories2 or on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. These outlets were selected because they favour storytelling, often through the use of multimedia (images, text and sound). We also draw on official documents published by the government that advance the meta-narrative of FFP, as well as speeches and public lectures by government officials. We have not investigated official government-sanctioned accounts or those of individual members of the government or Swedish diplomats, with the exception of Ministers for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström (2014–19) and Ann Linde (2019–), whose interventions in debates on FFP have been particularly audible and authoritative. This led us to also study Wallström and Linde’s official Facebook and Twitter accounts (here, we included Twitter because it is an important channel for political leadership).

Our analysis focuses on how Sweden’s FFP is told through stories that together produce a narrative. We highlight three distinct patterns of stories: stories of leadership; stories of legacy; and stories of subject positions. Drawing on Wibben’s distinction between external and internal narrators, we uncover variations within these patterns. First, personal stories are used to feature inspirational leaders that embody state feminism and that are committed to the global dispersion of gender equality. These stories are often told in the voice of an external narrator, such as the MFA, highlighting the authority and achievements of feminist pioneers, and how FFP is in line with these articulations. Stories about exceptional lived experiences or the exercise of bravery or trauma are, at times, self-told, with women suffering at the hands of global injustices being given voice in foreign policy discourse. These stories add legitimacy to Sweden’s commitment to uncovering the voices and life histories of women around the world. Personal stories are also used to embody the global recipients of FFP, women and girls (as well as sometimes men) who either stress the need for FPP or praise its success. Such stories are mostly internally narrated, using self-told personal stories to connect the FFP narrative to lived experiences on the ground, though rarely addressing the uneven power relations between Sweden and the narrator in question. Such stories are often told in the voice of the external narrator, helping to sustain Sweden’s self-identity as the ‘good’ and ‘feminist’ state. While our analysis does not specifically focus on silences in the digital projection of FFP, we nonetheless identify missing perspectives and untold experiences in its narration.

Narratives, narrators and stories of FFP on digital platforms

The official narrative of FFP is articulated across such texts as ‘Sweden’s feminist foreign policy – examples of three years of implementation’ and the ‘Handbook: Sweden’s feminist foreign policy’ (Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 2017; 2019), as well as official speeches by members of the government. These official documents advance: (1) Sweden’s exceptionalism as the first nation to pioneer FFP; (2) the importance of furthering women’s and girls’ entitlements to resources, representation and rights (the three Rs); and (3) the six prioritised areas of FFP – full enjoyment of human rights; freedom of physical, psychological and sexual violence; participation in preventing and resolving conflicts, as well as post-conflict peacebuilding; political participation in all areas of society; economic rights and empowerment; and sexual and reproductive health and rights. Together, these themes make up a political agenda that rests on mainstream liberal feminist values, reproducing the idea of feminism as a normative platform benefitting women and girls in particular, as well as a ‘smart alternative’ to mainstream foreign policy practice (see Zhukova et al, 2021). These discursive themes and topics have been projected in the MFA’s digital diplomacy efforts since 2014, often through micro-stories, seemingly unattached or marginal to the political agenda, which sustain the meta-narrative of FFP in different ways, though predominantly through three patterns of stories.

Leadership: exceptionalism, firstness and female leaders

Sweden’s narration of the feminist self frequently employs language of exceptionalism, telling audiences that it was the first nation to adopt an FFP. In the words of the MFA: ‘Sweden is the first country in the world to pursue a feminist foreign policy. The aim is to contribute to gender equality and the full enjoyment of human rights by all women and girls’ (Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 2017). The emphasis on such ‘firstness’ is reproduced across the MFA’s digital channels and has been a central storyline since the launch of FFP and the feminist government in 2014. Moreover, this position of leadership was pronounced when Sweden served as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2017–18, during which social media channels (foremost Twitter and YouTube) were used to explain the meaning of FFP to UN audiences. When the Swedish government assumed the leadership of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in 2021, the MFA stated on its Facebook page that ‘Sweden is the first country in the world to pursue a feminist foreign policy…. Women’s perspectives are needed – in politics, in business, in peace processes…. Sustainable peace and security are only possible if all women, men, girls and boys have the chance to make their voices heard’ (Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 2021a). By frequently reiterating the message of firstness, Sweden has managed to cultivate a success narrative around FFP, having inspired other states to adopt a feminist platform for their external conduct.

Sweden’s ‘brave first move’ was initially linked to former Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström’s personal brand as a champion of women’s human rights (Aggestam and True, 2021: 398). Wallström previously held the position of Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict and has been an outspoken defender of global gender justice. Wallström embodied FFP as a ‘little win’ in the quest for transformative change, where the rebranding move itself was framed as symbolically important. However, that narrative of success depended upon the visibility of FFP – being recognised by others as the first state advocating FFP was just as important as establishing actual firstness in foreign policy practice (see Shepherd, 2021: 77). Therefore, digital platforms were embraced to strategically project Wallström’s ‘brave’ leadership through authoritative language and imagery that featured official-looking photos of Wallström alongside punchlines drawn from FFP strategic documents.

In the Facebook post pictured in Figure 1, not only is Wallström’s voice used by pairing an image with a direct quote, but it is also visually suggested that Wallström herself embodies the hashtag #MoreWomenMorePeace, referring to her role in peace diplomacy. While the quote suggests that Wallström is the narrator, the collage and the colours (reflecting the Swedish flag and Wallström’s symbolically aggressive red clothes3) invoke an external narration, whereby Wallström is assigned the leading role in the story of FFP leadership. The post, then, illustrates a common pattern in the advancement of exceptionalism and firstness.

Figure 1: Margot Wallström, Sweden's Minister for Foreign Affairs seen on a podium speaking. She is dressed in red. Next to her is a yellow and blue banner with one of her famous quotes "Women's effective participation is key to reaching and sustaining peace agreements". Below the quote is a hashtag that reads more women more peace.
Figure 1:

Facebook post, 16 December 2015

Citation: European Journal of Politics and Gender 2022; 10.1332/251510821X16523466058289

Wallström’s advocacy transpired in her leadership. Until her resignation in 2019, Wallström was the ‘face’ of Sweden’s FFP, not just a symbol of female foreign policy leadership, but also an authoritative voice that could explain the practical implications of FFP. She showed a clear preference for result-orientated approaches to the execution of FFP, not least by inspiring other states and by delivering ‘concrete results’ (Wallström, 2019). As Minister for Foreign Affairs, she advanced FFP by enacting a ‘brave’ style of leadership, publicly criticising the Saudi regime for its authoritarian rule, poor track record on human rights and the status of women (Aggestam and True, 2021: 402). This active leadership style was projected on digital platforms, whereby Wallström was portrayed as an admirable, approachable and hard-working woman. In the early years of FFP, the MFA published video clips in which Wallström explained her take on FFP. Those stories were often produced through segments filmed during her trips back to Stockholm, having participated in international summits, or while being on site at UN Headquarters in New York. This narration differed from more curated messages of FFP since it allowed Wallström to speak as the internal narrator in a seemingly unfiltered way (Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 2015b). Thus, such messages come across as being more transparent and legitimate than the official, impersonal accounts of FFP on MFA websites. While still producing emotions of pride and pointing to the urgency of FFP, Wallström’s self-narration added an extra layer to the storyline by pointing to her female leadership and commitment to the success of FFP. Images and videos of Ann Linde, subsequent Minister for Foreign Affairs, made use of similar tropes, portraying her as constantly ‘on the go’ when enacting her female leadership. The image in Figure 2, posted by the MFA on Instagram under the heading ‘Stories’ (and labelled FFP), narrates her as the official symbol of FFP and the female leader ‘out doing good’ in the field (Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 2021b). The fact that she is wearing blue in both images seems to imply that they were taken at the same time – further strengthening the ‘always ready’ and ‘on the go’ tropes of the narration. Here, the Instagram story shows how Linde is both a competent leader in the formal (and safe) halls of the OSCE and bringing the message of FFP ‘out there’ to the front lines of conflict.

Figure 2: Two images captured from an instagram story labelled FFP and published on the Swedish MFA’s account. The first image pictures Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Ann Linde in a formal portrait. Above her the text reads “Minister for Foreign Affairs and OSCE Charperson-in-Office Ann Linde has launched a special group of experts for the women, peace and security agenda in the OSCE”. In the second image Linde is featured in the field wearing a security west and surrounded by soldiers. The text above her reads “She has also raised the issue during her travels as Chairperson-in-Office, such as on her visit to Luhansk Oblast in eastern Ukraine earlier this year.
Figure 2:

Two slides for the Instagram story ‘FFP’ @SwedishMFA

Citation: European Journal of Politics and Gender 2022; 10.1332/251510821X16523466058289

These two modes of narration (as an official symbol and a female leader) demonstrate the opportunities that digital storytelling offers to the narration of FFP leadership. Thus, in the voice of an external narrator, whether the Swedish state or the MFA, Sweden’s leadership and exceptionalism are told through the symbolic role of the female leader, actively seeking to set the country apart from other nations and previous governments (Browning, 2021). However, the success of FFP is also projected at a practical level, whereby the voices of female leaders are used to achieve wider recognition of feminism as a leadership practice and in foreign policy action.

The legacy of state feminism

In a public lecture titled ‘Pioneering in feminism – nationally and internationally’  held in 2016, Wallström (2016) noted: ‘Sweden has a political history of national reform aimed at gender equality taking us to where we are right now. And now we need to take another step forward as we have seen for ourselves that gender equality makes a world of a difference for everyone.’ The emphasis on the newness of the FFP agenda has often been paired with references to the continuity of state feminism and the historical role of the Swedish suffrage movement in fostering gender equality at home and abroad. Sweden’s long-standing feminist tradition has been narrated as a progression of state feminism, advanced through the MFA’s digital storytelling efforts that portray historical personalities in the new light of FFP. These portrayals have often been posted on Fridays as part of the digital feminist campaign #FeministFriday – a hashtag used across digital platforms to collect feminist content, sometimes in conjunction with other internationally prominent feminist hashtags, such as #WomensHistoryMonth, or hashtags favoured by the MFA, such as #MoreWomenMorePeace or #EqualityMakesSense (Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 2019: 111). In telling such stories, the Swedish MFA mostly employs external narration, though the stories told often centre on the personal struggles of women pioneers advocating gender-just change. Thus, FFP is invoked through the portrayal of personal struggles fought by multiple women throughout history. These stories are posted across digital platforms and recirculated on days that mark the anniversary of key feminist struggles, helping to build a foreign policy narrative of success (Shepherd, 2021: 62). Women pioneers, then, have become important symbols in the narration of FFP. An instructive example here is a post on the MFA’s Facebook page that tells the story of Fredrika Bremer, a Swedish writer and women’s rights activist in the mid-19th century, whose activism helped to lay the foundation for Swedish state feminism, expressed in support for gender equality at home and abroad (see Figure 3). Bremer’s activism encompassed both domestic and international justice quests, and her personal story is used by the MFA to evoke affective responses of pride, highlighting the urgent need for more FFP globally.

Figure 3: Two images captured from the MFAs social media accounts. The first image is from Facebook and pictures an old looking portrait och Fredrika Bremer. Above her is a brief text about Bremer and the hashtag feminist friday. The second image is from Instagram and picture a pop art replication of Agda Rössel.
Figure 3:

Facebook post @SweMFA, 30 July 2021, and Instagram post @SwedishMFA, 29 September 2020

Citation: European Journal of Politics and Gender 2022; 10.1332/251510821X16523466058289

The framing of #FeministFriday and the use of the anniversary effect allows for the communication of personal stories that create an intimate link between the past and present by establishing a shared sense of feminist legacy and identity across time and place. For example, the MFA has shed light on the feminist achievements of historical pioneers Agda Rössel (Sweden’s and the world’s first woman ambassador to the UN), Elsa Eschelsson (Sweden’s first female lawyer) and Elin Wägner (an important 20th-century feminist journalist and author). The portrayals of these women balance their professional accomplishments with their personal struggles, many of which relate to their location within the gendered power dynamics of their time. As illustrated by the image of Rössel in Figure 3 (Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 2020), the photographs of these women are often reproduced in the style of pop art, adding to their status as feminist icons. Through digital storytelling, the MFA recognises the feminist achievements of the women in question, as well as their contemporary relevance. The stories are carefully chosen and narrated to sustain Sweden’s meta-narrative as a feminist state committed to bringing resources, representation and rights to the world’s least privileged women – the three famous ‘Rs’ that undergird FFP. Fredrika Bremer, in fact, fought to improve women’s access to resources, Agda Rössel and Elsa Eschelsson broke the barriers of women’s representation, and Elin Wägner wrote books and articles about women’s emancipation and demands for equal rights.

While acknowledging that Swedish history is not void of gendered oppression, such storytelling seeks to sustain the idea of Sweden’s feminist legacy. However, by highlighting the achievements and iconic status of the aforementioned women, the lived histories of other women are being silenced – their stories might not fit Sweden’s success narrative. These selected stories, therefore, reproduce an image of Sweden as a racially and socially homogeneous nation, invoking a sense of community where the icons represent one shared feminist past and where the boundaries between the national and the international are blurred. This is in line with the absence of intersectional analysis within Swedish FFP. It is also an illustration of how digital storytelling tends to favour a coherent success narrative that may produce narrative closure instead of opening up for complexity and intersectional diversity (see Shepherd, 2021: 147). Similarly, stories of historical legacy serve to position FFP and state feminism in the same historical narrative, further silencing the inconsistencies and tensions that arise from the externalisation of a domestic agenda.

Recipients of feminist benevolence

The outward projection of feminism as a foreign policy agenda has produced new subject positions and binaries between feminist states and non-feminist states. This includes narrating Swedish feminists, not least ministers, as ‘givers’ and foreign women and girls as ‘recipients’ of Sweden’s feminist benevolence. The latter subject position is commonplace in the representations employed in the digital storytelling of FFP. The voices of the women and girls (as well as sometimes men) are used to symbolise the normative significance of FFP as a platform for eradicating gendered injustice – again, with only a modicum of intersectional awareness employed in such narration. Key here was Sweden’s public diplomacy website Swedish Foreign Policy Stories4 and the MFA Facebook page, which often featured women who embody FFP through moving accounts of feminist convictions and feelings of being liberated from gendered oppression. Such subjects are often schoolgirls dreaming of a professional career, female small business owners or men who have understood the ‘smart’ appeal of gender equality. These personal stories are often intimate in their exposure of the individuals’ suffering, drawing attention to their previous exposure to gendered oppression before their dreams of a better future were made possible. Such stories seek to inspire, not only through admiration of the individual in question, but also by pointing to the possibility of liberation from gendered oppression through FFP.

The employment of such storytelling adds intimacy and legitimacy to official and usually rather impersonal accounts of FFP. While this might widen access, enabling audiences to emotionally connect with the story told, it might also lead to a weakening of the feminist message put across; as such, doing little to radically transform the patriarchal and gendered power relations that undergird global politics.

One such example is the story of Afghan journalist Najwa Alimi, who received the Swedish government’s Per Anger Prize for Human Rights in 2019. Alimi was featured in Swedish Foreign Policy Stories through a photographic image of her in protective gear among a group of (male) soldiers preparing the launch of a missile attack in the background (see Figure 4). In the text that accompanies the image, a quote by Alimi is enlarged and highlighted:

I want to demonstrate that women can work in an industry considered taboo for them. I realised that journalism was the quickest way if I wanted to reach women all around Afghanistan, and that it could serve as a platform to fight for women’s rights. (Alimi, quoted on Swedish Foreign Policy Stories, 10 December 2019)5

Figure 4: A photograph of Afghan journalist Najwa Alimi standing in the foreground of the image in protective gear looking straight into the camera. In the background 11 male soldiers are seen to be preparing a missile strike.
Figure 4:

Photo of Afghan journalist Najwa Alimi reproduced by Swedish Foreign Policy Stories, originally ZAN TV

Citation: European Journal of Politics and Gender 2022; 10.1332/251510821X16523466058289

The story of Alimi is a self-narrated success story that demonstrates how FFP is not only beneficial to women and girls in faraway places, but also a shared normative platform that can empower women like Alimi. The drastically changing situation in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover of Kabul in August 2021 helps to illustrate how the subject position of someone like Alimi could quickly change from being empowered in her own context to becoming a recipient of Sweden’s benevolence. While in 2019, Alimi was projected by the MFA as a key figure in furthering Afghan women’s liberation, she reappeared in the MFA’s digital communication in 2021 when she found herself among other Afghan refugees evacuated by Sweden. This time, her story was narrated in the first-person voice of Minister for Foreign Affairs Ann Linde (2021; see also Figure 5).

Figure 5: A Twitter post published by the Minister for Foreign Affairs Ann Linde. In the photograph Linde is standing next to Alimi. Linde is taller than Alimi and dressed in colors while Alimi is dressed in black. Linde is smiling, Alimi is not. They are standing in an adorned room.
Figure 5:

Twitter post @AnnLinde, 20 August 2021

Citation: European Journal of Politics and Gender 2022; 10.1332/251510821X16523466058289

The two features of Alimi’s story at two different moments in time illustrate how the internal and external voices are used to strategically manage emotional responses to FFP. The first time Alimi’s personal story appeared, her voice took the shape of hope –hope of liberating Afghan women from gendered oppression. She was visually framed as empowered, positioned in the front of the image, with a confident body posture and with the men in the background appearing smaller than her. The second time around, her story is couched within feelings of pride, with Sweden being portrayed as responsible and caring, having saved Alimi from the Taliban. This time, Alimi looks smaller and less confident, all dressed in black and standing next to the taller Linde dressed in colours in an adorned room in a faraway place a long way from the hope of a better future in Afghanistan. Next, we offer a set of concluding remarks.

Conclusions

In this article, we have examined the ways in which Sweden has embraced digital storytelling to project FFP to a wide audience. In so doing, we have laid bare the political implications of this major shift in Swedish foreign policy. We suggested that the use of digital diplomacy has the potential to both strengthen and legitimise the externalisation of Sweden’s feminist ambitions, and to reduce its feminist ambitions through the adaptation of FFP to digital demands. To illustrate this argument, we advanced a framework that positioned FFP both within and in relation to Swedish state feminism, which also informed our feminist-inspired narrative analysis of the digital diplomacy of FFP.

Through attention to narratives, modes of narration and stories, we studied how FFP has been reproduced through appropriations to the demands of digital storytelling. We demonstrated how FFP stories are carefully selected, framed and told in ways that reproduce the FFP foreign policy agenda through opportunities to connect political sense-making to emotions. Our analysis uncovered how FFP is narrated through success stories framed around leadership, innovation and exceptionalism, as well as through historical legacy and positionings of the international ‘subject’. We demonstrated how digital storytelling has produced multiple narratives of FFP: as a ‘new and brave’ agenda; as a continuation of Sweden’s historical commitment to gender equality; and as a platform for a global feminist community. However, such digital storytelling has also sedimented Sweden’s subject position as a feminist saviour, a self-identity that, at times, was narrated through the voices of ‘the saved women’. Throughout the analysis, we have shown how conflicting storylines and modes of narration, potentially appealing to different audiences, are combined within the narrative of FFP, while social diversity, intersectional variation and political antagonism remain in the background (see Hedling et al, 2022). Also absent from such digital narration is a thoroughgoing analysis of what feminism undergirds FFP, with the language employed by the MFA pertaining to liberal feminist ideas rather than more radical attempts to transform the global gender order.

Digital storytelling enables the narration of FFP to a wider audience, pointing to Sweden’s feminist exceptionalism and success, and thereby contributing to the framing of Sweden as a ‘good state’ (Lawler, 2005) and the legitimation of gender equality as a foreign policy goal. However, the construction of popular stories and their adaptation to the demands of digital platforms also risk undermining the feminist ambitions of FFP.

Moreover, our study confronted the relationship between state feminism and FFP by shedding light on the ways in which state identities intersect with the mundane everyday digital habits of public life on social media. Our attempt to put theories of state feminism in conversation with digital diplomacy enables scholarly engagement with the ways in which digital society intersects with traditional patterns of projecting state identity. Although personal stories, at least in part, reproduce Sweden’s state feminist narrative, the visibility of such stories and their intended emotional reactions challenge traditional ways of communicating state feminism from the elite to the public.

Notes

1

The adoption of FFP is also in line with Sweden’s long-standing support for the United Nations (UN) Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda that was adopted in 2000.

2

A total of 17 segments were expressively labelled in the theme category of FFP.

3

Wearing red clothing is sometimes argued to lead to being perceived by others as assertive, aggressive and/or dominant.

4

The website was discontinued during the research process and the content is no longer publicly available. A majority of the content was, however, cross-posted on other outlets that are still available, which allows us to reference the content on social media platforms.

5

This quote, published in 2019, was previously published on the public diplomacy website Swedish Foreign Policy Stories.

Funding

This work was supported by the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation under Grant No. 2018.0090.

Author biographies

Annika Bergman Rosamond is an associate professor at the Department of Political Science, Lund University, Sweden. Her research interests include feminist foreign policy, feminist security studies and global ethics, as well as celebrity diplomacy and humanitarianism. She has published in such journals as Review of International Studies, Foreign Policy Analysis, Critical Military Studies, Global Society, Ethics and International Affairs, European Review of International Studies and International Feminist Journal of Politics.

Elsa Hedling is a researcher at the Department of Political Science, Lund University, Sweden. She is also an associate research fellow at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs in Stockholm. Her research interests concern the intersection of digital media, international political sociology and diplomacy. She has recently published articles in such journals as International Affairs, International Studies Review, Review of International Studies and Global Studies Quarterly.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

References

  • Aggestam, K. and Bergman Rosamond, A. (2019) Feminist foreign policy 3.0: advancing ethics and gender equality in global politics, SAIS Review of International Affairs, 39(1): 3748. doi: 10.1353/sais.2019.0003

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Aggestam, K. and True, J. (2021) Gendering foreign policy: a comparative framework for analysis, Foreign Policy Analysis, 16(2): 14362. doi: 10.1093/fpa/orz026

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Aggestam, K., Bergman Rosamond, A. and Kronsell, A. (2019) Theorising feminist foreign policy, International Relations, 33(1): 2339. doi: 10.1177/0047117818811892

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Aggestam, K., Bergman Rosamond, A. and Hedling, E. (2021) Feminist digital diplomacy and foreign policy change in Sweden, Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, online first, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1057/s41254-021-00225-3. 

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Akerlund, A. (2020) Regeringsstyrning av Svensk Offentlig Diplomati, Sweden: Förvaltningsakademin, Södertörns högskola.

  • Bergman Rosamond, A. (2013) Protection beyond borders: gender cosmopolitanism and co-constitutive obligation, Global Society, 27(13): 31936. doi: 10.1080/13600826.2013.790789

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bergman Rosamond, A. (2020) Swedish feminist foreign policy and ‘gender cosmopolitanism’, Foreign Policy Analysis, 16(2): 21735. doi: 10.1093/fpa/orz025

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bjola, C. and Holmes, M. (2015) Digital Diplomacy Theory and Practice, London: Routledge.

  • Browning, C.S. (2021) Fantasy, distinction, shame: the stickiness of the Nordic ‘good state’ brand, in A. de Bengy Puyvallée and K. Bjørkdahl (eds) Do-Gooders at the End of Aid: Scandinavian Humanitarianism in the Twenty-First Century, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp 1437.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Browning, C.S. and de Oliveira, A.F. (2017) Introduction: nation branding and competitive identity in world politics, Geopolitics, 22(3): 481501. doi: 10.1080/14650045.2017.1329725

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bucher, T. and Helmond, A. (2018) The affordances of social media platforms, in J. Burgess, A. Marwick and T. Poell (eds) The SAGE Handbook of Social Media, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cooper, A.F. and Cornut, J. (2019) The changing practices of frontline diplomacy: new directions for inquiry, Review of International Studies, 45(2): 30019. doi: 10.1017/S0260210518000505

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cull, N. (2019) Public Diplomacy: Foundations for Global Engagement in the Digital Age, New Jersey, NJ: Wiley.

  • Duncombe, C. (2019) The politics of Twitter: emotions and the power of social media, International Political Sociology, 13(4): 40929. doi: 10.1093/ips/olz013

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Egnell, R. (2016) Feministisk utrikespolitik i teori och praktik, Statsvetenskaplig Tidskrift, 118(4): 56387.

  • Enloe, C. (2010) Nimo’s War, Emma’s War: Making Feminist Sense of the Iraq War, Berkeley, CA, and London: University of California Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Giaxoglou, K., Döveling, K. and Pitsillides, S. (2017) Networked emotions: interdisciplinary perspectives on sharing loss online, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 61(1): 110. doi: 10.1080/08838151.2016.1273927

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Government Offices of Sweden (2019) Gender Equality Policy in Sweden: A feminist government, https://www.government.se/49c8d9/contentassets/efcc5a15ef154522a872d8e46ad69148/gender-equality-policy-in-sweden-oct-2020.pdf. 

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hedling, E. (2020) Storytelling in EU public diplomacy: reputation management and recognition of success, Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, 16: 14352. doi: 10.1057/s41254-019-00138-2

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hedling, E. and Bremberg, N. (2021) Practice approaches to the digital transformations of diplomacy: toward a new research agenda, International Studies Review, 23: 1595618. doi: 10.1093/isr/viab027

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hedling, E., Edenborg, E. and Strand, S. (2022) Embodying military muscles and a remasculinized West: influencer marketing, fantasy, and ‘the face of NATO’, Global Studies Quarterly, 2(1), https://academic.oup.com/isagsq/article/2/1/ksac010/6546420. 

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hernes, H.M. (1987) Welfare State and Woman Power: Essays in State Feminism, Oslo: Norwegian University Press.

  • Jezierska, K. (2021) Incredibly loud and extremely silent: feminist foreign policy on Twitter, Cooperation and Conflict, 57(1): 84107. doi: 10.1177/00108367211000793

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Jezierska, K. and Towns, A. (2018) Taming feminism? The place of gender equality in the ‘Progressive Sweden’ brand, Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, 14(1): 5563. doi: 10.1057/s41254-017-0091-5

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kaneva, N. (2011) Nation branding: toward an agenda for critical research, International Journal of Communication, 5: 25.

  • Kantola, J. and Outshoot, J. (2007) Changing State Feminism, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Kantola, J. and Squires, J. (2012) From state feminism to market feminism?, International Political Science Review, 33(4): 382400. doi: 10.1177/0192512111432513

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Karlsson, I. (2021) ‘We try to be nuanced everywhere all the time’: Sweden’s feminist foreign policy and discursive closure in public diplomacy, Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, online first, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1057/s41254-021-00245-z. 

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lane, L. and Jordansson, B. (2020) How gender equal is Sweden? An analysis of the shift in focus under neoliberalism, Social Change, 50(1): 2843. doi: 10.1177/0049085719901067

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lawler, P. (2005) The good state: in praise of ‘classical’ internationalism, Review of International Studies, 31(3): 42749. doi: 10.1017/S0260210505006571

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Linde, A. (2021) Very happy to meet writer and journalist, 20 August, tweet, https://twitter.com/annlinde/status/1432352008053346304.

  • Lovenduski, J. (2005) State Feminism and Political Representation, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Miskimmon, A., O’Loughlin, B. and Roselle, L. (2013) Strategic Narratives: Communication Power and the New World Order, London: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Papacharissi, Z. (2015) Affective Publics: Sentiment, Technology and Politics, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Robinson, F. (2019) Feminist foreign policy as ethical foreign policy? A care ethics perspective, Journal of International Political Theory, 17(1): 2037. doi: 10.1177/1755088219828768

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rottenberg, C. (2014) The rise of neoliberal feminism, Cultural Studies, 28(3): 41837. doi: 10.1080/09502386.2013.857361

  • Sainsbury, D. (2005) Party feminism, state feminism and women’s representation in Sweden, in D. Lovenduski (ed) State Feminism and Political Representation, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Shepherd, L. (2021) Narrating the Women, Peace and Security Agenda: Logics of Global Governance, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (2015a) Swedish Foreign Service action plan for feminist foreign policy 2015–2018, including indicative measures for 2016, www.government.se/495f60/contentassets/66afd4cf15ee472ba40e3d43393c843a/handlingsplan-feministisk-utrikespolitik-2018-enge.pdf.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (2015b) Margot wallström på väg hem från NPT-konferens i New York, 29 April, YouTube, www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7jkW5R949s&t=62s.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (2017) Sweden’s feminist foreign policy – examples from three years of implementation, www.government.se/information-material/2017/10/swedens-feminist-foreign-policy--examples-from-three-years-of-implementation/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (2019) Handbook: Sweden’s feminist foreign policy, www.government.se/492c36/contentassets/fc115607a4ad4bca913cd8d11c2339dc/handbook---swedens-feminist-foreign-policy---english.pdf.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (2020) The UN celebrating its 75th anniversary, 29 December, Instagram, www.instagram.com/p/CFuIhjlJITX/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (2021a) #FeminstFriday, 16 February, Facebook, www.facebook.com/SweMFA.

  • Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (2021b) FFP, Instagram, www.instagram.com/swedishmfa/.

  • Sylvester, C. (2013) War as Experience: Contributions from International Relations and Feminist Analysis, London: Routledge.

  • Thomson, J. (2020) What is feminist about feminist foreign policy? Sweden’s and Canada’s foreign policy agendas, International Studies Perspectives, 21(4): 4247. doi: 10.1093/isp/ekz032

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tryggestad, T. (2014) State feminism going global: Norway on the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission, Cooperation and Conflict, 49(4): 46482. doi: 10.1177/0010836714530576

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Van Dijck, J. (2013) ‘You have one identity’: performing the self on Facebook and LinkedIn, Media, Culture & Society, 35(2): 199215. doi: 10.1177/0163443712468605

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wallström, M. (2016) Feminist foreign policy – a public lecture with Margot Wallström, Pioneering in feminism – nationally and internationally, 11 March, www.government.se/articles/2016/03/a-feminist-foreign-policy----a-public-lecture-with-margot-wallstrom/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wallström, M. (2019) Speech by Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström at seminar on feminist foreign policy, 8 March, www.government.se/speeches/20192/03/speech-by-minister-for-foreign-affairs-margot-wallstrom-at-seminar-on-feminist-foreign-policy/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wibben, A. (2011) Feminist Security Studies: A Narrative Approach, London: Routledge.

  • Zhukova, E., Sundström, M. and Elgström, O. (2021) Feminist foreign policies (FFPs) as strategic narratives: norm translation in Sweden, Canada, France, and Mexico, Review of International Studies, 48(1): 195216. doi: 10.1017/S0260210521000413

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Aggestam, K. and Bergman Rosamond, A. (2019) Feminist foreign policy 3.0: advancing ethics and gender equality in global politics, SAIS Review of International Affairs, 39(1): 3748. doi: 10.1353/sais.2019.0003

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Aggestam, K. and True, J. (2021) Gendering foreign policy: a comparative framework for analysis, Foreign Policy Analysis, 16(2): 14362. doi: 10.1093/fpa/orz026

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Aggestam, K., Bergman Rosamond, A. and Kronsell, A. (2019) Theorising feminist foreign policy, International Relations, 33(1): 2339. doi: 10.1177/0047117818811892

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Aggestam, K., Bergman Rosamond, A. and Hedling, E. (2021) Feminist digital diplomacy and foreign policy change in Sweden, Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, online first, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1057/s41254-021-00225-3. 

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Akerlund, A. (2020) Regeringsstyrning av Svensk Offentlig Diplomati, Sweden: Förvaltningsakademin, Södertörns högskola.

  • Bergman Rosamond, A. (2013) Protection beyond borders: gender cosmopolitanism and co-constitutive obligation, Global Society, 27(13): 31936. doi: 10.1080/13600826.2013.790789

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bergman Rosamond, A. (2020) Swedish feminist foreign policy and ‘gender cosmopolitanism’, Foreign Policy Analysis, 16(2): 21735. doi: 10.1093/fpa/orz025

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bjola, C. and Holmes, M. (2015) Digital Diplomacy Theory and Practice, London: Routledge.

  • Browning, C.S. (2021) Fantasy, distinction, shame: the stickiness of the Nordic ‘good state’ brand, in A. de Bengy Puyvallée and K. Bjørkdahl (eds) Do-Gooders at the End of Aid: Scandinavian Humanitarianism in the Twenty-First Century, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp 1437.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Browning, C.S. and de Oliveira, A.F. (2017) Introduction: nation branding and competitive identity in world politics, Geopolitics, 22(3): 481501. doi: 10.1080/14650045.2017.1329725

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bucher, T. and Helmond, A. (2018) The affordances of social media platforms, in J. Burgess, A. Marwick and T. Poell (eds) The SAGE Handbook of Social Media, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cooper, A.F. and Cornut, J. (2019) The changing practices of frontline diplomacy: new directions for inquiry, Review of International Studies, 45(2): 30019. doi: 10.1017/S0260210518000505

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cull, N. (2019) Public Diplomacy: Foundations for Global Engagement in the Digital Age, New Jersey, NJ: Wiley.

  • Duncombe, C. (2019) The politics of Twitter: emotions and the power of social media, International Political Sociology, 13(4): 40929. doi: 10.1093/ips/olz013

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Egnell, R. (2016) Feministisk utrikespolitik i teori och praktik, Statsvetenskaplig Tidskrift, 118(4): 56387.

  • Enloe, C. (2010) Nimo’s War, Emma’s War: Making Feminist Sense of the Iraq War, Berkeley, CA, and London: University of California Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Giaxoglou, K., Döveling, K. and Pitsillides, S. (2017) Networked emotions: interdisciplinary perspectives on sharing loss online, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 61(1): 110. doi: 10.1080/08838151.2016.1273927

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Government Offices of Sweden (2019) Gender Equality Policy in Sweden: A feminist government, https://www.government.se/49c8d9/contentassets/efcc5a15ef154522a872d8e46ad69148/gender-equality-policy-in-sweden-oct-2020.pdf. 

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hedling, E. (2020) Storytelling in EU public diplomacy: reputation management and recognition of success, Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, 16: 14352. doi: 10.1057/s41254-019-00138-2

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hedling, E. and Bremberg, N. (2021) Practice approaches to the digital transformations of diplomacy: toward a new research agenda, International Studies Review, 23: 1595618. doi: 10.1093/isr/viab027

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hedling, E., Edenborg, E. and Strand, S. (2022) Embodying military muscles and a remasculinized West: influencer marketing, fantasy, and ‘the face of NATO’, Global Studies Quarterly, 2(1), https://academic.oup.com/isagsq/article/2/1/ksac010/6546420. 

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hernes, H.M. (1987) Welfare State and Woman Power: Essays in State Feminism, Oslo: Norwegian University Press.

  • Jezierska, K. (2021) Incredibly loud and extremely silent: feminist foreign policy on Twitter, Cooperation and Conflict, 57(1): 84107. doi: 10.1177/00108367211000793

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Jezierska, K. and Towns, A. (2018) Taming feminism? The place of gender equality in the ‘Progressive Sweden’ brand, Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, 14(1): 5563. doi: 10.1057/s41254-017-0091-5

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kaneva, N. (2011) Nation branding: toward an agenda for critical research, International Journal of Communication, 5: 25.

  • Kantola, J. and Outshoot, J. (2007) Changing State Feminism, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Kantola, J. and Squires, J. (2012) From state feminism to market feminism?, International Political Science Review, 33(4): 382400. doi: 10.1177/0192512111432513

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Karlsson, I. (2021) ‘We try to be nuanced everywhere all the time’: Sweden’s feminist foreign policy and discursive closure in public diplomacy, Place Branding and Public Diplomacy, online first, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1057/s41254-021-00245-z. 

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lane, L. and Jordansson, B. (2020) How gender equal is Sweden? An analysis of the shift in focus under neoliberalism, Social Change, 50(1): 2843. doi: 10.1177/0049085719901067

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lawler, P. (2005) The good state: in praise of ‘classical’ internationalism, Review of International Studies, 31(3): 42749. doi: 10.1017/S0260210505006571

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Linde, A. (2021) Very happy to meet writer and journalist, 20 August, tweet, https://twitter.com/annlinde/status/1432352008053346304.

  • Lovenduski, J. (2005) State Feminism and Political Representation, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Miskimmon, A., O’Loughlin, B. and Roselle, L. (2013) Strategic Narratives: Communication Power and the New World Order, London: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Papacharissi, Z. (2015) Affective Publics: Sentiment, Technology and Politics, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Robinson, F. (2019) Feminist foreign policy as ethical foreign policy? A care ethics perspective, Journal of International Political Theory, 17(1): 2037. doi: 10.1177/1755088219828768

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rottenberg, C. (2014) The rise of neoliberal feminism, Cultural Studies, 28(3): 41837. doi: 10.1080/09502386.2013.857361

  • Sainsbury, D. (2005) Party feminism, state feminism and women’s representation in Sweden, in D. Lovenduski (ed) State Feminism and Political Representation, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Shepherd, L. (2021) Narrating the Women, Peace and Security Agenda: Logics of Global Governance, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (2015a) Swedish Foreign Service action plan for feminist foreign policy 2015–2018, including indicative measures for 2016, www.government.se/495f60/contentassets/66afd4cf15ee472ba40e3d43393c843a/handlingsplan-feministisk-utrikespolitik-2018-enge.pdf.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (2015b) Margot wallström på väg hem från NPT-konferens i New York, 29 April, YouTube, www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7jkW5R949s&t=62s.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (2017) Sweden’s feminist foreign policy – examples from three years of implementation, www.government.se/information-material/2017/10/swedens-feminist-foreign-policy--examples-from-three-years-of-implementation/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (2019) Handbook: Sweden’s feminist foreign policy, www.government.se/492c36/contentassets/fc115607a4ad4bca913cd8d11c2339dc/handbook---swedens-feminist-foreign-policy---english.pdf.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (2020) The UN celebrating its 75th anniversary, 29 December, Instagram, www.instagram.com/p/CFuIhjlJITX/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (2021a) #FeminstFriday, 16 February, Facebook, www.facebook.com/SweMFA.

  • Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (2021b) FFP, Instagram, www.instagram.com/swedishmfa/.

  • Sylvester, C. (2013) War as Experience: Contributions from International Relations and Feminist Analysis, London: Routledge.

  • Thomson, J. (2020) What is feminist about feminist foreign policy? Sweden’s and Canada’s foreign policy agendas, International Studies Perspectives, 21(4): 4247. doi: 10.1093/isp/ekz032

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tryggestad, T. (2014) State feminism going global: Norway on the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission, Cooperation and Conflict, 49(4): 46482. doi: 10.1177/0010836714530576

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Van Dijck, J. (2013) ‘You have one identity’: performing the self on Facebook and LinkedIn, Media, Culture & Society, 35(2): 199215. doi: 10.1177/0163443712468605

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wallström, M. (2016) Feminist foreign policy – a public lecture with Margot Wallström, Pioneering in feminism – nationally and internationally, 11 March, www.government.se/articles/2016/03/a-feminist-foreign-policy----a-public-lecture-with-margot-wallstrom/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wallström, M. (2019) Speech by Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström at seminar on feminist foreign policy, 8 March, www.government.se/speeches/20192/03/speech-by-minister-for-foreign-affairs-margot-wallstrom-at-seminar-on-feminist-foreign-policy/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wibben, A. (2011) Feminist Security Studies: A Narrative Approach, London: Routledge.

  • Zhukova, E., Sundström, M. and Elgström, O. (2021) Feminist foreign policies (FFPs) as strategic narratives: norm translation in Sweden, Canada, France, and Mexico, Review of International Studies, 48(1): 195216. doi: 10.1017/S0260210521000413

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

Content Metrics

May 2022 onwards Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 295 295 295
PDF Downloads 200 200 200

Altmetrics

Dimensions