Securing the working democracy : Inventive arrangements to guarantee circulation and the emergence of democracy policy

Sammanfattning: In the 1990s, Swedish democracy's ability to remain strong and renew itself became increasingly questioned in government commission reports and social-scientific writings. The perceptions of the financial crisis in 1992–1994, new identities, immigration and changes in participation in civic associations and organizations were listed as challenges to democracy. Together, they helped constitute an understanding of an emerging gap between the population and existing representative democratic forms. In response, the 1990s and the first decade of the 2000s saw the emergence of several discourses, political initiatives and scientific contributions that articulated and responded to the need to secure a “working democracy”. By analyzing theoretically the arrangements of elements in policy and in attempts to shape the population's habits, dispositions and behavior, this thesis illuminates the role of aesthetics in the knowledge and power effects of these efforts. Methodologically, the thesis draws on Michel Foucault's genealogical approach in four empirical chapters. In doing so, the thesis displays why, when and how the efforts to secure a working democracy emerged, and analyzes the politics inherent to them. The chapters consist, first, of a study of the birth and changes in “democracy policy” as a distinct political domain; second, a mapping of the emergence of the discourse and dispositif of “valuefoundation”; third, a mapping of the discourse on exclusion and the discourse on and apparatus to combat “violence-promoting extremism”, and, finally, a mapping of inventive approaches in survey research that articulated how to secure a working democracy. This mapping exposes a vision of democratic dis-involvement and how to contain it infused by risk-management, benchmarking and a monitoring of changes in the population. Taken together, the chapters demonstrate the emergence of a complex network of power relations and knowledge used to achieve congruence between the population and governmental aims. This, the thesis underscores, marginalizes the role of dissent and interruptions in democratic life, to instead equate democracy with a system of congruence, smooth interactions and overall alignment to demands on circulation.