Senior lecturer and associate professor (docent) at the Department of Government, Uppsala University
Independent columnist in Dagens Nyheter
Research Interests and Engagement in the Public Debate
My research agenda combines political theory and political psychology.
Thematically, I tend to focus on contemporary political issues arising from immigration, such as how to handle life in a pluralistic liberal society. Most recently, this means I have worked on national identity, patriotism, and nationalism. Other research interests include the sources of political and social tolerance and intolerance, the history of political ideas (especially the thought of Isaiah Berlin, John Stuart Mill, and the Early German Romantics), the phenomenon and consequences of individualism, trends in mass values, religious expression, recent European debates on the Muslim veil, the Danish Muhammad cartoons controversy of 2005, and freedom of speech and norms of civility in the public debate.
In parallell with my research, I teach courses in political theory and political sociology (including a module on political psychology), and supervise students who write their theses on these subjects.
I strongly believe in the importance of scholarly engagement in the public debate. I have therefore popularized my research in numerous newspaper and magazine articles in Swedish, in radio and TV interviews, and podcasts. I also write a monthly column for Dagens Nyheter: https://www.dn.se/av/gina-gustavsson/, and I have written in The Guardian, and in The Washington Post.
I have also written two popularised books based on my research. The first is on national identity, including my analysis of public support in Sweden for the country's internationally deviant covid-19 strategy: Du stolta, du fria. Om svenskarna, Sverigebilden och folkhälsopatriotismen, Kaunitz-Olsson, 2021 (the title could be translated with You proud, you free. On the Swedes, brand Sweden and public health patriotism).
The second book is on the liberal ethos of openmindedness, offering a closer look at how Madame de Staël, John Stuart Mill, and Isaiah Berlin grappled with this question. In the book, I also draw parallells between these thinkers in the history of ideas and more contemporary research on political psychology, including the authoritarian dynamic, and the literature on Social Dominance Orientation. This book is called Det öppna sinnelaget - och dess fiender, Fri Tanke & Liberal Debatt 2023 (the title could be translated with The Open Mind - and Its Enemies).
I am currently leading a three year research project: Nationhood in a Pandemic, Nordic Gold or Nordic Noir? The Interplay between National Identity, Political Trust, Affective Polarization, and Attitudes to Immigrants in Denmark and Sweden in 2020-2021. This project is funded by Forte, and also includes a post-doc (Maria Nordbrandt Bergström, Uppsala University), Karen Breidahl (Aalborg University, Denmark), and Per Mouritsen (Aarhus University, Denmark).
The background for this project is that Sweden and Denmark are often mentioned as promising candidates for democratic national identities. Yet empirical research on contemporary national identity in this context has focused on anti-immigrant voters, not the (seemingly, at least) more inclusive national identity of the majority, whose political trust remains high, affective polarization low, and national pride revolves around the welfare state and democracy. These all became particularly salient themes during the pandemic. We employ mixed methods, analyzing both new and unique survey data (in collaboration with world leading scholars Kymlicka et al.), and narratives of national identity in the covid debates in both countries. This enables us to address worrying tensions, such as why civic nationalism in the Nordic countries seems to have a particularly Islamophobic side, and whether narratives of high-trusting Danes and Swedes also come with a darker side: the othering of immigrants during the pandemic.
In 2022 I also finished the project called "Understanding the Pippi Longstocking Paradox and Statist Individualism: A Comparative Study of Swedish Individualism Using a Mixed-Methods Approach". This is also funded by Forte, the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare. This project looks closer at individualistic attitudes, conformism, and freedom values, and their consequences for the welfare state in contemporary public opinion in Sweden. It is undertaken in collaboration with historian Lars Trägårdh at Ersta Sköndal University College.
Romantic and Enlightenment Liberalism
As the result of a three year post-doc scholarship (2012-2014) from the Sasakawa SYLFF foundation, I also have a book manuscript entitled "The Romantic Strain in Enlightenment Liberalism: Contemporary Liberalism Caught Between Muslim Veils, Muhammad Cartoons, and Individuality".
This book offers the first systematic study of Enlightenment Liberalism, the black sheep in the liberal family, according to both political theorists and now, increasingly, also empirical researchers interested in immigration and ethnicity. Yet, the notion of Enlightenment Liberalism has hitherto escaped proper scrutiny. My main conclusion is that we have focused on the wrong culprit. Instead of worrying about Enlightenment Liberalism, my analysis suggests that we should fear its neglected baby brother: Romantic Liberalism, which places individuality rather than autonomous self-reflection at the heart of the liberal project. With its focus on being true to rather than transcending oneself, it is Romantic Liberalism, rather than its enlightened counterpart, that ends up supporting the new intolerance of religious minorities. This book traces this process both in theory and practice, in debates over the Muslim veil and Muhammad cartoons.
As part of this project, I have also collaborated with political psychologists on a project on the psychological roots of intolerance in Sweden and the Netherlands, based on new unique data, including novel attitudinal measures of Enlightenment and Romantic Liberalism.Research Grants and Awards (selection)
Principal investigator for "Nationhood in a Pandemic, Nordic Gold or Nordic Noir? The Interplay between National Identity, Political Trust, Affective Polarization, and Attitudes to Immigrants in Denmark and Sweden in 2020-2021", funded by Forte (4 950 000 SEK).
International Career Grant from the Swedish Resarch Council/VR (6 252 000 SEK), for the project "Liberal Nationalism in the Welfare State: Bridging the Gap Between Political Theory and Political Psychology on National Identity and Economic Solidarity", to be undertaken in Oxford and Uppsala.
COFAS 2, a Marie Curie post-doc co-funded by the European Research Council and the Swedish research agency Forte.
Junior scholar research grant, funded by the Swedish research agency Forte (3 330 000 SEK) for the project "Understanding the Pippi Longstocking Paradox and Statist Individualism: A Comparative Study of Swedish Individualism Using a Mixed-Methods Approach".
2013: Teacher of the year, awarded by the Uppsala Political Science Students' Association
2012: Post-doctoral Nils-Eric Svensson travel grant to use for an academic visit to Nuffield College, Oxford, from Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (funded by the Swedish Central Bank Jubilee Fund)
2011: Three year post-doctoral fellowship from the Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund (SYLFF), January 2012-January 2015
2010: STINT (visiting scholar grant from the Swedish Council for the Internationalization of Research), June 2010
2007: Best paper at the annual conference of SWEPSA (Swedish Political Science Association)
International Networks and Visiting Fellowships
Autumn 2020 - until present, collaborator of 'Why Membership', a cross-national research group studying national membership perceptions in the US, Canada, UK, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, and France, and led by the Canadian scholars Allison Harell, Keith Banting and Will Kymlicka.
Autumn 2020 - until present, member of GOODINT (Goals and bottlenecks of successful integration and social cohesion), with funding from the Norwegian Research Council, led by by Annamari Vitikainen and Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen, Tromsö, Norway.
Spring 2021 - until present, member of a cross-national research group on theorizing national solidarity, organised by Danny Kaplan, Bar-Ilan University, Israel.
March 2015 - March 2021, Associate Member of Nuffield College, Oxford University (I spent the academic years of 2016/2017, and 2020/2021 in Oxford)
January-April 2013, visiting researcher at Nuffield College, Oxford University, at the invitation of Professor David Miller
April-July 2010, visiting scholar at the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Ethics and Morality, University of California, Irvine, under the supervision of Professor Kristen Monroe
July 2010, participant in the Stanford Summer Institute in Political Psychology (SIPP), directed by Professor Jon Krosnick
Member of The Impact of Religion, a cross-disciplinary research programme for the study of religion in relation to society, law and democracy (funded by the Swedish research council Vetenskapsrådet)
Professional Services (selection):
Organizer and host for the international workshop 'National Identity in an Angry Age', Department of Government, Uppsala University, February 3rd-5th 2020
Organizer of and host for the workshop 'Liberal Nationalism and its Critics: normative and empirical questions', Nuffield College, Oxford, June 20-21st 2017 (together with David Miller)
Main supervisor of two PhD students, and assistant supervisor of two PhD students
Reviewer for Oxford University Press, the American Political Science Review, Comparative Political Theory, Contemporary Political Theory, Ethnicities, Ethnic & Racial Studies, International Journal of Human Rights, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Journal of Political Ideologies, Nations & Nationalism, Politics & Religion, Political Studies, Res Publica,The European Political Science Review, The Review of Politics
Chair and organizer of the political theory sub-seminar series at the Department of Government, Uppsala University (from August 2013 – June 2015, and again from August 2018 - December 2018)
Chair and organizer of the political sociology sub-seminar series at the Department of Government, Uppsala University (from January 2012-January 2013)
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