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Skyddsrum och kärnvapen: En diskursanalys av 1950- och 1960-talets försvars- och civilförsvarsdebatt i svensk press
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.
2012 (Swedish)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesisAlternative title
Shelters and Nuclear weapons : A discourse analysis of the Swedish defense and civil defense debate during the Cold war (English)
Abstract [en]

Shelters and Nuclear weaponsA discourse analysis of the Swedish defense and civil defense debate during the Cold war

Sweden during the Cold War set into motion one of the world’slargest civil defense policies at the time, second only to neutral Switzerland. The governments expenditure was far greater per capita than both that of USA and Soviet Union and included massive evacuation plans for Stockholm and other large cities in Sweden, with the hopeful expectation to bring down the amount of people in each of them to 15000 in case of a foreign hostile nuclear attack. The policies included construction of shelters with room for 2,5 million of about 7 million citizens in total at the time along with gasmasks for the whole population. Not only this, Sweden was considered one of the biggest military powers of that time in relation to its size and population. This brings the question what kind of discourse allowed such an expansion in military as well as civil defense?    The aim of this study is to examine what conception of a coming war was discussed in Swedish press and how it was interconnected with the defense and civil defense debate during 1954, 1960 and 1966. Using the theoretical framework of discourse analysis - including the two branches Nukespeak and Conceptual history - the study wants to bring forth firstly how the threat of nuclear war was discussed in Swedish press. Secondly if the conceptions of this future war was presented and used by a dominant group for political gains. And third, if so, what strategies was used to keep this dominance and how did this situation change as we move towards the mid 1960´s?

The result is then compared with the work of other Swedish historians in the field of Cold War culture as Marie Cronqvist, Jonas Anshelm, Henrik Sjövall, Jerry Määttä and Michael Godhe to give a plausible explanation of the development.    The results show that the dominant perspective of a coming nuclear attack was built upon an authoritarian ideology with the following attributes: 1) The coming nuclear war was a terrible plague that would destroy the whole world’s civilization, even humanity as a race was threatened by it. 2) The threat of war was considered realistic and plausible. The local conflict in Scandinavia and the global conflict is also considered being one and the same which grants the Swedish military a key position in preventing the east and west superpowers from unleashing a total annihilation. 3) A requirement to be able to keep peace between the superpowers and survive the war as it is presented is that technical innovation is maintained at all costs. This is presented as a necessity given by the atomic age as a deterministic historical epoch. 4) It is possible to survive this apocalyptic war with good planning, well built shelters, a strong will of resistance to foreign power and a well equipped military.    This hegemonic perspective is maintained by methods described by Edward Schiappa and other linguistic scientists as domestication and bureaucratization, and also with a plea of a 'male' rationality, thus expelling female criticism. 1966 this hegemonic perspective is challenged and the reason of this change could be that of saturation of the concept of the atomic age and what it could bring to human civilization. Also a merging of military expertise and foreign politics could have played a part in this and a general relaxation of the superpowers foreign politics which meant that the war that was expected and planned for by the military advisers was more and more unlikely to occur.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [sv]
civilförsvar, kalla kriget, kärnvapen, försvar, svensk politik
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-58152OAI: diva2:547112
Subject / course
Humanities, Theology
Available from: 2012-10-05 Created: 2012-08-27 Last updated: 2012-10-05Bibliographically approved

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