Mannen i mitten. Ett spiondrama i svensk kallakrigskultur

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


The aim of this thesis is to contribute to a broadening of perspectives on Cold War Sweden. It is a study not primarily of the explicit political events or debates, but of the everyday cultural narratives of the era. During the long 1950s, Swedish Cold War imagination was largely characterised by a determination to maintain total security in the response to the threats that loomed on all sides, an impulse that centred on neutrality and the folkhem (literally, people's home) as narratives of collective self-understanding. In the book, I stress the dramaturgical quality of collective meaning creation around “the neutral folkhem” through a study of the images and narratives surrounding the Spy.

Narrative and drama are theoretical concepts central to the hermeneutic interpretation in this study and the source material ranges from civil defense, daily newspapers, and popular magazines to fictional narratives, novels, and films. Taking my lead from Paul Ricoeur, Clifford Geertz, and Victor Turner, among others, I conceptualise the dramatic narrative as the story line of collective identity, restoring order and meaning out of chaos and confusion.

The disposition follows the main elements of a drama. First, the stage directions concerning Sweden and the neutral folkhem of the long 1950s are outlined. Secondly, there is a plot with a conflict between protagonist (the Public Detective) and antagonist (the Spy or the Fifth Columnist). The main emplotment and the preferred characteristics of the protagonist are narrated particularly in the civil defense material. Thirdly, the different faces of the antagonist are shown in the crime journalism of the daily newspapers, focusing mainly on the spy revelations of the day – Hilding Andersson 1951 and Fritjof Enbom 1952. Fourthly, the scenery is laid out by means of the popular magazines of the era. Here are also the props as well as the supporting actors and principal victims of the drama, such as the Spy’s suffering mother and girlfriend, on stage. An interval follows, in this case to allow for a change of scene by means of introducing the fictional spy novels and films around 1960, and finally, there is a grand dénouement, which goes in some detail into the Sweden's most far-reaching spy saga, the Wennerström affair of 1963–64. While displaying elements of continuity in the importance of linking the image of the Public Detective and the folkhem community, the Wennerström affair also marks the disintegration of the Swedish spy drama, replacing the east-west dichotomy with that of class struggle and the neutral folkhem against Communism with that of the modern and progressive folkhem against pathetic remnants of an old upper-class world view.
Original languageSwedish
Awarding Institution
  • History
  • [unknown], [unknown], Supervisor, External person
Award date2004 May 15
ISBN (Print)91 7203 587 0
Publication statusPublished - 2004

Bibliographical note

Defence details

Date: 2004-05-15
Time: 10:15
Place: Room 3, Dept of History, Magle Stora Kyrkogata 12A, 220 02 Lund

External reviewer(s)

Name: Warring, Anette
Title: Ph D
Affiliation: Roskilde Universitetscenter


Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • History

Free keywords

  • everyday life
  • social drama
  • drama
  • narrative
  • identity
  • neutrality
  • folkhem
  • the spy
  • espionage
  • the long 1950s
  • Cold War culture
  • Sweden
  • History
  • Historia

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