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Research article2020Peer reviewedOpen access

Responsibilization in contemporary Swedish crisis management: expanding 'bare life' biopolitics through exceptionalism and neoliberal governmentality

Radestad, Carl; Larsson, Oscar


The aim of this paper is to investigate the changing relations between individuals and public authorities within the Swedish crisis management system from 1995 to 2017. After the end of the Cold War, Sweden adopted a broader understanding of security that utilizes alternative governance strategies beyond sovereign means and focuses upon domestic security and the protection of vital systems. This has resulted in the emergence of collaborative arrangements involving public and private actors and as well as the extensive responsibilization of individuals. The latter has taken place since emergency and exceptionalism persist as vital concepts also in domestic security management. The present discussion argues that these two concepts restrict possibilities for democratizing security management and provides the means for harnessing the inclusion of volunteers while not granting them due voice in collaborative governance arrangements. However, responsibilization strategies include 'activation' which in turn may invoke critical agency and reflection as well as enable resistance toward the current apolitical notion of crisis management.


Crisis management; exceptionalism; responsibilization; governmentality; biopolitics; fear

Published in

Critical Policy Studies
2020, Volume: 14, number: 1, pages: 86-105

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG16 Peace, justice and strong institutions

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Public Administration Studies

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