Warring for Peace? : Swedish television’s take on war in a ‘post-documentary’ culture

University essay from Stockholms universitet/Institutionen för mediestudier


While it has explained how power and knowledge directly imply one another, constructivist theories of international relations have shown how knowledge and language are extensively used for legitimizing war, conflict and intervention. It has further been shown how not only news media, but increasingly popular culture is powerful in creating meaning and establishing knowledge about war and conflict. At the same time, media scholars have shown that the development in television production is going towards a blur between information and entertainment, fact and fiction. This blur has been shown to often and effectively de-politicize ideological content. This study is a critical discourse analysis of the TV series Krig för fred (War for peace), broadcast on the Swedish public service television during the spring of 2011. The study has through answering questions in terms of genre and ideology, found that the material is an example of a blur between documentary and reality TV and that the material is exclusively from a Swedish point-of-view, yet presented through a discourse of claiming the real. One of the consequences of the mixed genre seemed to have been that as more space was given to individual characters and exoticising images of the Afghan landscape and people, less space was given to criticism, which made this representation of the war entertaining rather than informative to watch. While the only information given about Afghanistan in the TV series is that it is among the poorest countries in the world, more clues have been given as to how the Swedish military view themselves and have been represented in relation to ‘others’ in the world.

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