Collaboration, Lone-wolfs and Returners – Framing Terrorism in Swedish Counter-Terrorism Policies

University essay from Lunds universitet/Sociologi

Abstract: Whereas a lot of research on social problems has focused on understanding them as objective conditions, the purpose of this study is to examine how terrorism is framed in three Swedish policies for countering terrorism. The three Swedish policies for countering terrorism, included in this study, were published between 2008-2015, and are important platforms wherein the framing of terrorism as a social problem takes place. Drawing on Donileen R. Loseke’s perspective on social problems, I have examined the human activity of social problems work; this involves looking at how the parameters of the condition is set, and how meaning is created within three frames: the diagnostic, motivational, and prognostic frame. By analyzing processes of meaning-making, I have shed light on how claim-makers, in a process termed “piggybacking”, make the so-called “new” terrorism seem familiar (notwithstanding the prefix of “new”) by linking it to an already established problem, namely the “old” terrorism. It is argued that the narrative of terrorism encompasses elements of vagueness, the construction of identities, and a moral dimension, since it entails ideas pertaining to desirable and undesirable lifestyles. I have found that the inherent vagueness of the policies is not necessarily problematic. I, rather, suggest that vagueness – in a politically charged context as that of terrorism – may be viewed as an asset in that it enables complexity. Additionally, the watchword, collaboration, signifies a development, in which the responsibility for crime (terror) prevention and security are re-articulated. The notion of collaboration refers to the shared undertaking of terror prevention, involving both non-state and state actors. Within this multi-actor approach, which is closely linked to the prevention of “early initiatives”, structural accounts of terrorism are increasingly overshadowed by individually-orientated explanations. Furthermore, in light of the British academic literature on counter-terrorism, the study at hand also comprises reflections upon the potential pitfalls of the preventive outlook as to terrorism in Sweden.

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