“We live in a time of polarisation” is something we frequently hear in the debate. However, it is often unclear what polarisation actually refers to, which is why it may be beneficial to take a closer look at this concept. Together with three colleagues, political science professor Henrik Ekengren Oscarsson will study the scope of political polarisation in Sweden and its impact on democracy. The results will be presented in the 2021 SNS Democracy Report to be published next spring.
“Polarisation is one of the terms used extensively to describe and explain current political transformations. We want to study what those using this term refer to and determine whether it is accurate to say that Sweden is more polarised today than previously. Are Swedish politics more or less polarised compared to other countries? And what may be the role of polarisation in relation to future Swedish political developments?”, says Henrik Ekengren Oscarsson, chairperson of the “2021 SNS Democracy Report: Polarisation in Sweden”.
The researchers will analyse and systematise existing knowledge on polarisation, focusing on the media, party system, parliament and among voters. The report will present several methods for measuring whether and how the level of polarisation has shifted in Sweden. It will also discuss the importance of polarisation with regards to how democracies operate.
“I can think of few subjects more urgent to study than polarisation. On the one hand, this phenomenon has received a great deal of attention and, on the other hand, there is great uncertainty in terms of what it actually refers to. We are thus very pleased that such a renowned and well-qualified group of researchers will offer a broad analysis of polarisation in Sweden on behalf of SNS”, says Mia Horn af Rantzien, CEO of SNS.
The report will be published in the spring of 2021 and is funded with support from the Swedish Research Council and the Riksbankens Jubileumsfond.
Henrik Ekengren Oscarsson (chairperson), professor of political science at the University of Gothenburg
Torbjörn Bergman, professor of political science at Umeå University
Annika Bergström, professor of journalism, media and communication at the University of Gothenburg
Johan Hellström, associate professor of political science at Umeå University