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Covid-19 & Swedish exceptionalism : A critical qualitative content analysis on the international print media discourses of Sweden’s Covid-19 strategy / Covid-19 & Svensk exceptionalism : En kritisk kvalitativ innehållsanalys av den internationella tryckmedia diskursen om Sveriges Covid-19-strategi

  • Kippersluis, Rianne
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2022
DiVA - Academic Archive On-line
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In 2020, the year the Covid-19 pandemic struck, the Swedish Covid-19 response differed radically from the general policy of total lockdown and strict enforcement of Covid-measures and regulations recommended by the WHO. Instead, Sweden strove early on to achieve herd immunity, with no mandatory measures to limit numbers in shopping malls, buses, and other public events, nor mask requirements. Hence, during the height of the pandemic, Swedish Covid-19 policy was a highly debated issue in the international media, within academia and the World Health Organization. The aim of this study is to examine the international media discourse on the Swedish Covid-19 strategy in the international print media. The focus has been on newspapers from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The research has been done by investigating how Sweden’s Covid-19 strategy is discursively constructed, through major themes and sub-themes that have emerged. Additionally, the differences in discourse between Dutch, English and American media have been explored. As well as the use of language, ideologies, and linguistic devices within the international discourse have been investigated. A total of 178 articles, published between the period of 1 January 2020 until 6 February 2022, have been collected and analyzed. This study uses Qualitative Content Analysis (QCA) as main method and has been inspired by Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA). A coding frame has inductively been created, by having used a sample of 20 newspaper articles in a pilot study. The software of NVivo has been used for the coding process. The major themes that emerged from my analyses of media discourses are: Anders Tegnell, Strategy, Trust and Image of Sweden and Swedes. My study found that media discourses on the Swedish Covid-19 policy are not positive. Rather these tend to be negative or at best neutral. Images of Sweden tend to vary in tandem with increase or decreases of Covid-19 infections and/or deaths. As the Swedish strategy became more or less aligned with the ‘norm’ of the WHO, the coverage of Sweden in media declined and lost its newsworthiness. 

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