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Political Science

Political science at the Swedish Defence University is unique in its special focus on security and crisis management. The subject is at the same time theoretically broad, and draws on a wide range of related fields, such as international relations, political communication, public administration, and political theory as well as drawing inspiration from other research within and outside of political science.

In an increasingly uncertain world characterised by great power rivalry, conflicts and wars, disinformation, disasters, environmental degradation, pandemics, and other crises, there is a vital need for in-depth knowledge and a diversity of analytical perspectives.

Political science research at the Swedish Defence University analyses how security and insecurity are created, who security is for, and how crises are prevented and handled in Swedish, European, and global contexts. We explore threats, conflicts, decision-making processes, communication processes, identity construction, and ethical dilemmas concerning the state, society, and individual, with a special focus on Sweden and the Nordic countries, the European Union, the United States, Russia, and East Asia.

The aim of our research and education is to contribute a more complex and nuanced understanding of the world. Our researchers regularly share their expertise in national and international media, advising policymakers, participating in commissioned training, and informing the public on current issues.

Research in political science at the Swedish Defence University can be divided into two overarching themes - security studies and crisis management - and several specialisations, which organise researchers as well as doctoral students.

Security studies

Our research within security studies is multifaceted and consists of a great variety of theoretical approaches and empirical themes. Traditional and critical perspectives are brought to bear in illuminating problems such as national security policy, great power politics, geostrategic rivalry, and the role that diplomacy and disinformation exert on international politics. Research in the department is characterised by a high degree of societal and political relevance, as well as an ambition to understand and explain complex processes that help create, sustain, and undermine security orders.

Crisis management

Crisis management revolves around how different actors handle different crises, such as pandemics (COVID-19), terror attacks, climate change and disasters, but also the value conflicts that crises can give rise to. We are interested in crises as political and bureaucratic phenomena. What crisis management capabilities do the European Union, national administrations, and international organisations possess? How do crisis management actors communicate with the public during a crisis? How can we learn from a crisis to become better prepared for future crises? Crisis management research is interdisciplinary and uses theories of both antagonistic and non-antagonistic threats.

Research areas in political science

Political theory and international political theory

This theme explores politics and international relations from a range of theoretical perspectives – philosophical, historical, analytical, and normative – and derive from both the social sciences and the humanities. This includes the study of central concepts, theoretical accounts of politics and international relations, as well as intellectual history. Research within this area covers both descriptive and justificatory arguments, as well as critical and historical investigations.

Ethics

The study of ethics in political science addresses a range of moral issues and key debates in international relations, security, and crisis management. These range from how we ought to live with climate change to moral obligations of inter-state conflict. Our research covers descriptive, comparative, and justificatory arguments in normative and applied ethics.

Faculty members and doctoral students

Political communication, information influence, and disinformation

There are two main themes within political communication. First, we take an interest in the role of communication in democratic political processes and focus on a broad range of political actors, from local authorities to national politicians and international organisations. We examine how communication is channelled, what it contains and how it is interpreted. Second, we focus on harmful political communication – including disinformation – sponsored primarily by authoritarian regimes and projected across borders, and investigate its content, dissemination, and effects. Such information influence can undermine societal cohesion, democracy, and security.

Narrative politics

Research within this theme builds on the assumption that narratives construct collective identities and serves to analyse how and with what security consequences that stories spread and resonate within and between states and other actors. The research is conducted in overlapping tracks, which (a) consider narratives as strategic rhetoric constructions that actors use in political communication to achieve influence, for example deception; (b) explore how narratives convey and create emotions; (c) emphasise the importance of deeper master narratives; and (d) focus on narrative resistance, for example in the form of everyday narratives. This specialisation is partly organised within the Narrative Research Lab.

More about the Narrative Research Lab.

Faculty members and doctoral students

Public administration and governance

This research area takes an interest in how governance is practiced when disrupted by crises, disasters, and security problems. How do governments deal with short- and long-term challenges to become more robust, e.g., through learning and policy change? How do societies build resilience? How do various agencies work together horizontally and vertically to achieve common goals in multi-level governance systems? What role does gender orders play in this context? We approach these questions by considering the interplay of stable systemic features (institutions), dynamic events and processes (crises), and policy actors (agency).

Disasters, resilience, and the Anthropocene

The Anthropocene denotes a new geological epoch distinguished by the transformative power of human agency on the planet. This multidisciplinary field of research examines the (un)intended consequences of human-nature entanglement and what this entails for life on the planet. Scholarly subfields include social vulnerabilities, disaster risk reduction, the relationship between natural hazards and armed conflict, resilience, security, geopolitics, and justice and governance.

Faculty members and doctoral students

Intelligence

Intelligence plays a key role in a nation’s security policy and practices. At the same time, due to the lack of public scrutiny, this area is in many ways difficult to study. This specialisation takes a special interest in the political dimensions of intelligence. We address questions concerning the relationship between intelligence officers and politicians, and the difficulty of making accurate assessments of risks and threats. Swedish as well as international contexts are explored, focusing on normal situations as well as critical events.

Science and technology studies

The role played by science and technology in contemporary societies is ever more central, with profound implications for the conduct of their politics, security, and law. Research within this specialisation addresses these questions from a broad theoretical perspective and wide empirical remit, with special expertise in the areas of national security, international relations, cybersecurity, and digital politics. Our research aims to analyse the social ramifications of scientific knowledge and technological innovation while examining the frequently obscured politics of such developments.

Faculty members and doctoral students

The everyday

Research on “the everyday” focuses on personal and ordinary experiences in relation to security and crisis, often drawing on feminist insights. It focuses on overlooked agents and alternative sites that may be messy and mundane, taken for granted or neglected in the mainstream literature. It includes the study of resistance and the micro politics of “new” or alternative security actors, such as children. Typically, research on the everyday highlight both vulnerabilities and the power/agency of subjects.

The politics of time

At the present, security and crisis are increasingly matters of time. Large-scale cyber incidents and terror attacks have instantaneous global effects that do not follow the traditional linear sequence of events. Regional wars and conflicts lead to simultaneous disasters across the world. This strand of political science research focuses on the issue of time’s influence on international and domestic politics in the field of security and crisis management.

Practice

International relations are typically thought of in abstract and static terms of agency, structure, interests, and norms in scientific research when in practice they are conducted by people of flesh and blood located in time and space. This strand of political science research attempts to bridge the gap between the worlds of practitioners and theoreticians in the fields of IR, European foreign policy, crisis management, and national defence. The aim is to open up new perspectives in a rapidly changing world, where it is important to study what happens in practice beyond theoretical assumptions.

Faculty members and doctoral students

Researchers and Doctoral students

Professors

Senior Lecturers and Associated Senior Lecturers

Antoine Bousquet

Antoine.Bousquet@fhs.se +46 8-55342964 Associate Professor, Senior Lecturer,

Arita Holmberg

arita.holmberg@fhs.se +46 8-55342747 Associate Professor, Senior Lecturer,

Dan Hansén

Dan.Hansen@fhs.se +46 8-55342779 Associate Professor, Head of Department,

Edward Deverell

Edward.Deverell@fhs.se +46 8-55342775 Associate Professor, Senior Lecturer, Director of studies,

Håkan Edström

Hakan.Edstrom@fhs.se +46 8-55342731 Associate Professor, Senior Lecturer,

Maria Hellman

Maria.Hellman@fhs.se +46 8-55342513 Associate Professor, Senior Lecturer,

Simon Hollis

simon.hollis@fhs.se +46 8-55342593 Associate Professor, Senior Lecturer, Director of studies,

Stefan Borg

Stefan.Borg@fhs.se Associate Professor, Senior Lecturer,

Tom Lundborg

Tom.Lundborg@fhs.se +46 8-55342793 Associate Professor, Senior Lecturer,

Doctoral students

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