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Deliberation or Manipulation: The Issue of Governmental Information in Sweden around 1970
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of culture and media studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8820-1082
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This article focuses on conflicting ideas of governmental information in public discussions in Sweden in late 1960s and early 1970s. The purpose is to analyze alternative ideas that were put forward as contrast to the government’s notion of a governmental information policy. It further analyzes how these different ideas conceptualized the relationship between the state and the citizen in terms of the capacity to govern respectively exercise influence on the course of society. The result shows that governmental information was a highly contested issue at that time, even regarding rudimentary aspects that can be taken for granted today.

Keywords [en]
governmental information, information debate information policy, commission of inquiry, information flow
National Category
Information Systems, Social aspects
Research subject
medie- och kommunikationsvetenskap
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-155445OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-155445DiVA, id: diva2:1279208
Available from: 2019-01-16 Created: 2019-01-16 Last updated: 2019-01-16
In thesis
1. "Framtiden tillhör informatörerna”: samhällsinformationens formering i Sverige 1965–1975
Open this publication in new window or tab >>"Framtiden tillhör informatörerna”: samhällsinformationens formering i Sverige 1965–1975
2019 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
”The Future Belongs to the Information Officers” : the Formation of Governmental Information in Sweden 1965–1975
Abstract [en]

This dissertation is about the formation of governmental information in Sweden during the period 1965 to 1975. During this period information related issues were high up on the political agenda, in Sweden and internationally. I argue that the period is of particular interest in order to understand the impact and development of governmental information in Sweden, even for our time. One overreaching research question has guided this study: What ideas and practices characterized how and why the state disseminated information to the public? The thesis uses four tensions to study the formation of governmental information in Sweden during the late 1960s and early 1970s: (1) information as a solution – information as a problem, (2) dissemination of information – control over information, (3) information through mass communication – information through interpersonal dialogue, and (4) governmental information – commercial information. These tensions draw theoretically from John Durham Peters’ notions of communication.

The thesis uses strands from three research fields: PR-history, cultural histories of media, and digital humanities. The four papers use different theoretical perspectives in order to shed new light on of the formation of governmental information in Sweden. Adding to that, and to theoretically tie the papers together, the thesis presents an overarching network perspective with a special focus on conceptual history as a means to better understand how governmental information was discussed as well as practiced. Different methods are used to study the formation of governmental information. The latter is partly because of the political issue’s porous boundaries and fragmented-oriented character, and partly due to the lack of previous research with a problematizing and historical approach to governmental information in Sweden. The thesis combines qualitative and quantitative methods to study different aspects how the state communicated with the public.

This dissertation presents new findings about the formation of governmental information during the period 1965 to 1975. One regards the different intersections of governmental information. It shows that the production and dissemination of information from agencies to citizens was far from “pure” governmental information, and rather entangled with various actors from industry, academy and civil society. A second finding concerns the language of governmental information. Here, the dissertation shows – through large-scale digital text methods – how the concept of “information” exploded in usages from the 1960s and onwards, and how “information” as a discursive element infiltrated a growing number of political topics from the same period and onwards. A third finding centers on the media of governmental information. One result shows how broadly academics and bureaucrats defined the concept of media in relation to the practice of governmental information. All kinds of media devices, and not only the traditional news media, were considered important for the purpose of disseminating information on large scale to the public. Lastly, this dissertation reveals governmental information as without guaranties. Overall it shows how information from state agencies to citizens was generated through various conflicting tensions that have to be addressed, but without any hope of finding a balance free from communication problems. These problems tend to reoccur in different settings through history, also visible today. This result should however not be regarded as a pessimistic standpoint, rather it calls for modesty in terms of communication in general, and governmental information in particular.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå Universitet, 2019. p. 125
Series
Medier & kommunikation, ISSN 1104-067X ; 18
Keywords
public information, governmental information, public campaign, Sweden, digital humanities, digital text analysis, 1960s, 1970s, network, PR-history, cultural histories of media, conceptual history
National Category
Information Systems, Social aspects Communication Studies Media Studies
Research subject
media and communication studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-155387 (URN)978-91-7855-004-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2019-02-08, Hörsal G. Humanisthuset, Umeå, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2019-01-18 Created: 2019-01-15 Last updated: 2019-04-04Bibliographically approved

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Norén, Fredrik

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