Ur avhandlingens abstract:

This dissertation studies power and the production of the democratic subject in the context of democratic debate. It is important to understand the role of power in democratic debate. Even more important is to understand how power underpins the construction of the democratic subject in this context. Is it possible for just anybody to be a convincing democratic subject? Or does democratic debate assume a particular kind of body – a democratic “super-body”? This thesis argues that in order to answer such questions it is not sufficient to study the intellectual and verbal aspects of democratic debate. The situation needs to be examined in its material enactment. Since previous research does not offer a coherent way of analysing how power underpins the material construction of the democratic subject, this dissertation develops such an analytical perspective, which it terms a feminist theatrical perspective. The perspective is “theatrical” because it studies democratic debate as intra-active enactment, which assumes stage, costume and stage direction. The perspective is inspired by Foucault and Butler as well as by feminist performance, architectural and design research. The feminist theatrical perspective, and the methodological framework that it offers, constitutes the main contribution of the thesis. The dissertation focuses on democratic debate in the specific form of the parliamentary debate. It identifies three key parliamentary ideals about democratic debate that are materially enacted as ”dramas” during the debate: the idea that democratic debate is built on equality, that it is important as representing the people, and that it is importantly rendered in combative struggle. Empirically, the thesis is based on an ethnographic field-study of the Riksdag, the Swedish parliament, conducted in 2008/2009, and an in-depth study of two debates between party leaders that took place in the Riksdag in 2010. The main finding is that power is necessarily ambivalent in the production of the democratic subject in this context. The thesis identifies frameworks for how the democratic subject should move, behave, sound and look. However, these frameworks are contradictory. No actual physical body could, as a “super-body”, fully correspond to the physical characteristics that are assumed about the democratic subject.