The Duty to Protect: Gender in the Swedish Practice of Conscription

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In this article, we turn first to a brief discussion of feminist contributions in the field of security, defense, and collective identity, and then argue that Swedish nationalism is tied to a particular form of collective identity formation through the practice of conscription. Drawing on Elshtain's notions of 'just warriors' and 'beautiful souls', we go on to spell out how women, historically, have been situated within the discourse of militarism. Finally, we look at how the contribution of women to the military has been perceived and argued, and then point out how a small number of female soldiers may be instrumental in exposing a particular value system of gender, citizenship, and collective identity.

Demilitarization isn't any more automatic than militarization. Indeed, it may be a far stickier process because it goes against the grain of the feminine and masculine conventions and political strategies now prevalent in so many societies. (Enloe, 1993: 259)


  • Annica Kronsell
  • Erika Svedberg
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Political Science


  • military, Gender, conscription, feminism, Sweden, citizenship
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-176
JournalCooperation and Conflict
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Publication categoryResearch