Chapter

Neutrality as a Social Democratic project: tracing the origins of Swedish neutrality, 1814–1945

Christine Agius

in The Social Construction of Swedish Neutrality

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780719071522
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781701263 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7228/manchester/9780719071522.003.0004
Neutrality as a Social Democratic project: tracing the origins of Swedish neutrality, 1814–1945

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Exploring the advent of Swedish neutrality via a constructivist analysis, this chapter re-examines the ‘realpolitik’ explanation of its origins. It focuses on Sweden's demise as a great power in the region and the ensuing (conflictual) debates about identity that became tied to neutrality, before being adopted as part of the platform of the Social Democratic Party which considered neutrality an important feature of its idea of the folkhem(‘People's Home). Yet during the period covered in this chapter, neutrality was unevenly practiced, ranging from passivity to interwar activism in the League of Nations, and culminating in a widely-criticised ‘pendulum policy’ during the Second World War, which saw it favour first Nazi Germany and then the Allied forces. Sweden was seen as an isolationist, self-interested actor, morally dubious and profiting from war. This assessment was to have a lasting impact on Swedish identity and the future of its neutrality policy.

Keywords: Identity; Social Democracy; First World War; League of Nations; Second World War

Chapter.  14135 words. 

Subjects: European Union

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