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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

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

Authors' information

Radestad, Carl
Straterno Inst
Larsson, Oscar
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural Development

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG16 Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

UKÄ Subject classification

Public Administration Studies

Publication Identifiers


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