Culture wars? The (re)politicization of Swedish cultural policy
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionHarding, T. (2022). Culture wars? The (re)politicization of Swedish cultural policy. Cultural Trends, 31(2), 115-132. https://doi.org/10.1080/09548963.2021.1971932
Swedish cultural policy has long been characterized by broad political consensus, partially because it has only drawn very limited attention as an arena for political conflict. There are now indications that consensus around the Swedish model of cultural policy is breaking down. This article explores current criticism of cultural policy in Sweden from the established centre-right, and the populist right. As new political divisions are becoming increasingly important, cultural policy becomes a contested area, including a number of symbolically critical issues, e.g. multiculturalism, controversial modern art, and political influence on arts and culture. In current debates, the arm’s length principle is still widely supported in both, the centre-right, and the centre-left, but the centre-right is increasingly viewing current centre-left cultural policies as politicizing. The nationalist-populist Sweden Democrats stand out in their explicit focus on social cohesion based on Swedish cultural identity, and lower regard for the arm’s length principle.