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New roles in a hostile world? How liberal states are changing their foreign policy in a new security environment

Liberal small states in a hostile world

The project is funded by Riksbankens jubileumsfond, during the period 2020-2023.

With an increasing level of confrontation in world politics, small liberal states face the challenge of balancing normative liberal beliefs against the need for military security. This challenge leads to potential role conflicts.

In the proposed project, we consider such role conflicts in the five Nordic states, typical small liberal states that are challenged by the shifting world order.

We approach potential role conflicts in the Nordic states in two ways. First, we describe how the foreign policy roles of the Nordic states have evolved in the new security landscape of Northern Europe over the last ten years. Second, we explain how these states balance their varied and potentially incompatible roles, in relation to both the overarching systemic changes and domestic opposition.

These two aims are achieved through conducting elite interviews and analyzing foreign policy declarations and key speeches of leading politicians. The second aim more specifically makes use of a process-tracing approach in order to explain when and how role contestation has led to role change. Through these steps, we will gain important new knowledge of how the systemic transformation of the world order is challenging the existing roles of states, necessitating the reevaluation of their role locations and, in turn, their foreign policies.

Researchers in the project

  • Douglas Brommesson, Docent
    Statsvetenskapliga institutionen
    Lunds universitet
  • Ann-Marie Ekengren, Professor
    Statsvetenskapliga institutionen
    Göteborgs universitet
  • Anna Michalski, Docent
    Statsvetenskapliga institutionen
    Uppsala universitet