The uses of the term polarisation in Swedish newspapers, 2010–2021

Mike Farjam, Tommy Bruhn, Nils Gustafsson, Anamaria Dutceac Segesten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article, we investigate the rhetorical uses and media frames associated with the term polarisation in Swedish print media from 2010 to 2021. We first produce a qualitative and detailed assessment of a sample of 240 articles and then proceed to a computational (word2vec) analysis of all major Swedish newspaper articles including the term (N = 32,805). We find that the term has changed its rhetorical function over time. Initially used to describe, – that is, used as a technical descriptor of events and issues in society – this use later became increasingly vague and general. Instead, it has been rhetorically used to amplify, implying a sense of urgency, conflict, or threat. Over time, the term has been used increasingly frequently, but has been applied less to Sweden and, instead, most often associated with political actors and events in the US. Moreover, we find that, for Sweden, the term polarisation was mostly related to social and political issues, whereas for the US, it carried affective associations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-34
Number of pages34
JournalNordicom Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2024 Jan 19

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Media and Communications
  • Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)

Free keywords

  • news journalism
  • computational analysis
  • natural langauge processing
  • political polarisation


Dive into the research topics of 'The uses of the term polarisation in Swedish newspapers, 2010–2021'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this