State Is Our Shepherd

Representations of Order and Otherness in four 1930's Newspapers in Sweden

Publication

Abstract

The aim is to study representation of order and otherness in the late 1930's Swedish press. That is, who are envisioned as "us" and who are the "Others"? The theoretical frame is based on Foucault’s concepts of pastoral power, the reason of state and biopolitics. The Good Shepherd is an excellent metaphor for the Nordic-style welfare state and the Foucauldian approach fits well with the social Darwinist and race biological metaphors of the time. Furthermore, news, myths and law articulate public morality and belong to disciplining, naturalizing and normalizing discourses. The symbolic boundaries between “We” and “Them” are outlined and modes of thinking, acceptable ways of behavior, and possible solutions for existing problems are provided.

The material examined consists of four Stockholm-based newspapers Dagens Nyheter, Stockholms-Tidningen, Svenska Dagbladet and Social-Demokraten. The years studied are 1935 and 1938. The quantitative content analysis is based on a selection of four months from each year. The articles are coded according to a theme and the characteristics of the actors. Gripsrud’s version of Propp’s actant model is used to examine the narrative structure of the stories. Linguistic tools, such as ideational and interpersonal functions, are used to analyze the individual texts.

The groups depicted as deviant include religious sects, ethnic minorities, foreigners, criminals and political activists on the extreme right and extreme left. A number of articles discuss various social problems in more general terms. Quantitatively more than eighty percent of the material consists of crime news. Approximately five percent of the articles are about ethnic minorities and foreigners. Religious sects and political extremists constitute about one percent each and roughly ten percent of the material is about social problems.

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Details

  • Type:
    Doctoral Thesis (peer reviewed)
  • Published:
    2007
  • Publisher:
  • Language:
    Swedish
  • ISBN:
    978-91-7155-520-5

Reference

Ellefson, M. (2007). State Is Our Shepherd: Representations of Order and Otherness in four 1930's Newspapers in Sweden. Diss. Stockholm: Stockholms universitet.