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Ideologiska mål och utrikesdebatt: Svenska riksdagspartiers argumentation i Vietnam- och Irakfrågan
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.
2008 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

It is rather often assumed that Swedish foreign policy debate is largely characterized by consensus and that foreign policy goals often are material (for example security or economic welfare). Despite this, it is possible to identify disagreement among political parties about ideological goals – i.e. the promotion of values – in Swedish foreign policy debates. This raises questions about the nature and importance of these ideological goals in such debates. To study this closer I investigate foreign policy debates about the military conflicts in Vietnam and Iraq. The purpose of the dissertation is to describe and explain the content and relative importance of the ideological goals expressed by Swedish parliamentary parties in both party and public arenas. Four parties are included in the study: the Left, the Social Democrats, the Liberals and the Conservatives.

The theoretical framework is made up of two main parts. First, I develop a classification scheme to identify and sort the goals found in the empirical material. This scheme includes four goal types: ideological, security, economic, and other. Second, insights from literatures on foreign policy and the behaviour of political parties are used to analyze the content and importance of ideological goals.

The research design used in the dissertation is comparative case studies. The empirical material is composed of documents from the internal party arena (meeting minutes, congress material, etc), the parliamentary arena (debate material) and the official arena (press material). The material has been analyzed mainly qualitatively with the help of ideational and argument analysis. In order to estimate the relative importance of ideological goals quantitative content analysis has also been used.

As regards the content of ideological goals during debates about Vietnam, the empirical results show all parties discussed the promotion of humanity, democracy and states’ rights to national independence. In the Iraq conflict, all parties expressed goals about humanity, human rights, internal security/safety, democracy and states’ rights to national independence. Beyond these goals, individual or a few parties also expressed other ideological goals. However, a central result is that the parties have linked the ideological goals – which they often agree about – to different ways of reasoning.

The empirical analysis also revealed that ideological goals have generally been more important than other types of goals (with the exception of the Conservative Party in the debate about Vietnam). Regarding developments over time, the importance of ideological goals was unchanged for the Social Democrats and the Liberal Party. For the Left there was a slight decrease, and for the Conservatives a significant increase.

The overall conclusion about what explains the content and importance of ideological goals in the foreign policy debates studied here is that explanations at the systemic level are inadequate. Variables like the international political structure (polarity) and institutional mechanisms in the EU and the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy had little explanatory power. Instead, explanations like type of foreign policy issue, party ideology and party strategy were more useful. Differences in parties’ fundamental ideological views were also discussed as an important source of difference as regards the positions and arguments that expressed ideological goals.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Statsvetenskap , 2008. , 304 p.
Statsvetenskapliga institutionens skriftserie, ISSN 0349-0831 ; 2008:1
Keyword [en]
Sweden, foreign policy debate, parties, ideological goals, Vietnam, Iraq, ideational analysis, argument analysis, content analysis
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-1653ISBN: 978-91-7264-556-1OAI: diva2:141712
Public defence
2008-06-05, Hörsal S 205 H, Samhällsvetarhuset, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 13:15 (English)
Available from: 2008-05-15 Created: 2008-05-15 Last updated: 2010-03-01Bibliographically approved

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