Total defense as a happy object: gendering mobilization of civil defense in Sweden

Mathias Ericson, Maja Svenbro, Misse Wester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


For the past years, the national rhetoric in Sweden has changed. Due to the Russian actions in Ukraine and Crimea, efforts towards mobilizing military and civil preparedness increased. The concept of the ‘total defence’ was reintroduced and has led to shifting priorities in Swedish politics, serving as a happy object and remedy in times of security threat and social anxiety. The article critically examines what this mobilization requires from the civil society actors. Drawing on a wide scope of material, including interviews, observations, news articles, and policy documents, our analysis shows that gender-based power and norms are integral to rebuilding the Swedish total defence. Moreover, different forms of benign masculinist protection mask processes of asymmetric influence and power distribution and renders any position of critique suspicious.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)497-512
JournalCritical Military Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Gender Studies
  • Other Social Sciences

Free keywords

  • civil defence
  • gender
  • happy objects
  • Masculinist protection
  • total defence


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