Linnea Tillema

The emotional citizen: Quality-of-life debates and the transformation of democracy in 1970s Sweden

Measurements of experienced "quality of life" have become an important resource in policy development, in Sweden as in other western democracies. Yet, when quality-of-life analysis was first introduced to Sweden in the 1970s, it stirred heated debate. This project explores political and academic debates about quality-of-life measurements in 1970s Sweden, in order to understand challenges to and changes within Swedish democracy. Combining the perspectives of governmentality studies with insights from the history of knowledge, I scrutinize the emergence of a new citizen category, the "emotional citizen", and its co-production with "emotional democracy", a new democratic ideal. I also investigate how the emotionalization of citizenship contributed to political challenges to the Swedish welfare state. In three case studies – concerned respectively with welfare research, psychosocial research, and urban planning – I investigate key arenas for knowledge production about quality of life, while also affording careful attention to the dynamic between the knowledge produced and the debates provoked by the new concept in media and parliament. In so doing, the project makes a historical and theoretical contribution to the research field devoted to the politics of wellbeing, and to research concerned with the role of emotions in politics. It also contributes important insights to historical research about the transformations of the Swedish welfare state in the late 20th century.
Grant administrator
Uppsala University
Reference number
SEK 2,700,000
RJ Projects
History of Ideas