Digital Norm Contestation and Feminist Foreign Policy

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This article examines the role of digital norm contestation in feminist foreign policy (FFP). It analyzes how states that participate in digital diplomacy are involved in challenging and resisting norms, values and expectations related to feminist positionings in the digital environment. The article presents an analytical framework for the study of digital norm contestation and conducts an empirical case study of Sweden as the first country in the world to brand its foreign policy “feminist.” This triggered a process of digital norm contestation, particularly visible in the area of sexual and reproductive health and rights. Three empirical vignettes of digital norm contestation are analyzed. The first example illustrates how the Swedish government was able to exercise global leadership to visually perform and digitally advocate the contestation of the US global gag rule. The second example underlines how the Swedish government harnessed its leadership by connecting it to grassroots contestations of the global gag rule through digital advocacy networks. The third example illuminates how the Swedish government’s visit to Iran backfired because of a lost sense of control over visual performative effects in the digital environment. By way of conclusion, we suggest three avenues that can be pursued to further the research agenda on gender, digital norm contestation, and foreign policy.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Studies Perspectives
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2023 Aug 25

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Political Science
  • Gender Studies

Free keywords

  • Sweden
  • feminist foreign policy
  • norm contestation
  • digital diplomacy
  • SRHR

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