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Reimagineering the Nation

Essays on Twenty-First-Century Sweden


Aleksandra Ålund, Carl-Ulrik Schierup and Anders Neergaard

This collection of essays offers a critical analysis of neoliberal transformation as it has unfolded in Sweden, long regarded as exemplary in terms of social welfare, equality and an inclusive multicultural democracy. The book presents a multidisciplinary exposition on Sweden, seen in a wider European perspective. It addresses changing frameworks of citizenship, welfare and democracy, migration and asylum, urban segregation and labour market segmentation and processes of securitization. It illuminates intersecting dimensions of class, gender and racialization and juxtaposes xenophobic populism with new social justice and antiracist movements on a changing political stage. Addressing a growing alignment with retrogressive illiberal policies across Europe, the volume exposes the reach of the adverse direction in which European «integration» is currently heading.

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14. Renaissance from the Margins: Urban Youth Activism in Sweden (René León Rosales / Aleksandra Ålund)


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René León Rosales & Aleksandra Ålund

14. Renaissance from the Margins: Urban Youth Activism in Sweden

Abstract: Analysing the formation of a political subjectivity among Swedish urban justice activists the authors discuss resistance against cultural stigmatization and social exclusion. An emergent critical public voice confronts marginalization within the formalised context of ‘invited spaces’ for citizenship dialogues as activists create new ‘invented spaces’ for public participation, in order to promote democratic development.

A new political subjectivity has taken root among activists in Sweden’s disadvantaged urban neighbourhoods. It has been borne along by a contentious urban movement following upon youth uprisings in Swedish cities in 2009 and 2013. It brings into focus citizens’ claims for social justice; a response to social polarization of the urban space forcing racialized identities upon a range of multi-ethnic neighbourhoods within segregated geographies of social exclusion and cultural stigmatization. It is a multifarious movement coming out of Sweden’s stigmatised and socially marginalised ‘suburbia’ (förorten in Swedish). ‘Suburbia’ – or förorten – is home to subaltern population groups, in particular migrants of multiple backgrounds and their descendants.1 We see this new so-called ‘suburban movement’ (Swedish: förortsrörelsen2) as an ‘urban justice movement’ (Dikeç 2007). Sensing that they are a ‘new popular movement’ (den nya folkrörelsen), these new actors in civil society find themselves heirs to a tradition that once struggled to create the Swedish welfare state. As we will discuss, new and old popular movements seem...

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