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The mass-production of quality ‘human material’: economic metaphors and compulsory sterilisation in Sweden

The mass-production of quality ‘human material’: economic metaphors and compulsory sterilisation in Sweden
The mass-production of quality ‘human material’: economic metaphors and compulsory sterilisation in Sweden
Compulsory sterilisation was one of the most provocative aspects of the history of Swedish Social Policy. Much has been written about the topic from a social discourse perspective, while the economic discourse of compulsory sterilisation has not been fully recognised. This paper suggests that one needs to use an economic discourse to fully understand some aspects of compulsory sterilisation in the Swedish welfare state discourse between the 1910s and the late 1940s. This paper is based on a discourse analysis: by using metaphors it analyses how pragmatic economic considerations played an important role in creating public support for compulsory sterilisation. This paper suggests that economic motives became the dominant factor in the social democratic eugenic discourse over time and thereby replaced the racial and conservative elements of the dominant Swedish eugenic discourse. The network around Herman Lundborg, director of the Government Institute for Race Biology, changed the focus on costs as an important motive for compulsory sterilisation which was also used by the social democratic scholars Gunnar and Alva Myrdal. The paper indicates that using economic metaphors could create a more diverse understanding of the Swedish welfare state that had other motives than just social ones
1740-5904
172-186
Nordensvard, Johan
44e3b534-aa45-4124-9680-35e8fb6f2e98
Nordensvard, Johan
44e3b534-aa45-4124-9680-35e8fb6f2e98

Nordensvard, Johan (2013) The mass-production of quality ‘human material’: economic metaphors and compulsory sterilisation in Sweden. Critical Discourse Studies, 10 (2), 172-186. (doi:10.1080/17405904.2012.744323).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Compulsory sterilisation was one of the most provocative aspects of the history of Swedish Social Policy. Much has been written about the topic from a social discourse perspective, while the economic discourse of compulsory sterilisation has not been fully recognised. This paper suggests that one needs to use an economic discourse to fully understand some aspects of compulsory sterilisation in the Swedish welfare state discourse between the 1910s and the late 1940s. This paper is based on a discourse analysis: by using metaphors it analyses how pragmatic economic considerations played an important role in creating public support for compulsory sterilisation. This paper suggests that economic motives became the dominant factor in the social democratic eugenic discourse over time and thereby replaced the racial and conservative elements of the dominant Swedish eugenic discourse. The network around Herman Lundborg, director of the Government Institute for Race Biology, changed the focus on costs as an important motive for compulsory sterilisation which was also used by the social democratic scholars Gunnar and Alva Myrdal. The paper indicates that using economic metaphors could create a more diverse understanding of the Swedish welfare state that had other motives than just social ones

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Published date: 2013
Organisations: Social Sciences

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Local EPrints ID: 362370
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/362370
ISSN: 1740-5904
PURE UUID: cc4ff281-8ea7-43af-9adb-05919319a7b3

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Date deposited: 21 Feb 2014 11:26
Last modified: 09 Nov 2021 01:01

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Author: Johan Nordensvard

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