The social construction of Swedish neutrality

Challenges to Swedish identity and sovereignty

By Christine Agius

The social construction of Swedish neutrality


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-7153-9
  • Pages: 264
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £17.99
  • Published Date: June 2012
  • BIC Category: Society & social sciences / Comparative politics, Sweden, POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General, POLITICAL SCIENCE / World / European, Comparative politics, International relations, Politics
  • Series: New Approaches to Conflict Analysis


Since the end of the Cold War, and particularly in the post-9/11 international environment, neutrality has been conceptualised as a problematic subject. With the end of bipolarity, neutrality as a foreign and security policy lost much of its justification, and in the ongoing 'War on Terror', no state, according to the Bush Administration, can be neutral. However, much of this debate has gone unnoticed in IR literature. This book, newly available in paperback, examines the conceptualisation of neutrality from the Peloponnesian War to the present day, uncovering how neutrality has been a neglected and misunderstood subject in IR theory and politics. By rethinking neutrality through constructivism, this book argues that neutrality is intrinsically linked to identity.

Using Sweden as a case study, it links identity, sovereignty, internationalism and solidarity to the debates about Swedish neutrality today and how neutrality has been central to Swedish identity and its world-view.


1. Writing neutrality: from the Peloponnesian war to the Cold War
2. Neutrality 'is what states make of it': rethinking neutrality through constructivism
3. Neutrality as a Social Democratic project: tracing the origins of Swedish neutrality, 1814-1945
4. Sweden's post-war neutrality doctrine: active internationalism and 'credible neutrality'
5. The crisis in Swedish Social Democracy: paving the path for a new identity
6. A new Swedish identity? Bildt, Europe and neutrality in the post-Cold War era
7. Into Europe with the SAP: Sweden as an EU member state
8. The war on terror and globalisation: implications for neutrality and sovereignty
Conclusion: the failure of neutrality?


Christine Agius is Lecturer in International Relations and Politics at the University of Salford

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