What is the problem with democracy today? Interviews with citizens in Sweden and the United States

Polarization and resentment characterize much of the political debate in western democracies today. In the project “The Politics of Resentment in Sweden and the United States”, Johanna Söderström and Markus Holdo investigate what experiences and circumstances shape citizens’ opinions on how their political system works. 

A growing number of citizens are dissatisfied with the way their political system works and question how democratic it actually is. They feel that political leaders ignore important problems and disregard their interests and that the media is dominated by an elite’s narrow perspective. In this project, Johanna Söderström and Markus Holdo interview citizens who participate in online political discussions. The aim is to learn more about the experiences and circumstances that have shaped their perspectives and opinions. To enable comparison across countries, research is conducted in both Sweden and the United States.

Johanna Söderström and Markus Holdo have previously done research on different aspects of political legitimacy and democracy. Söderström recently published a book (Living Politics After War) on the experiences of war veterans in several countries, including the United States. Holdo has done research on why people distrust political leaders and rural arguments in Swedish political debate. In this project, they use life history interviews to learn more about the people who contribute to debates on the problems of democracy today.

Principal Investigator: Johanna Söderström (Department of Government)

Period: 2019–2023

Funding:  4 130 000 kr från Forte

Research Team

Johanna Söderström

Senior Lecturer/Associate Professor at Department of Government, Faculty

+4618-471 2793

Markus Holdo

Researcher at Department of Government, Faculty; Affiliates

+4618-471 3330

Researcher at Institute for Housing and Urban Research

Last modified: 2023-09-01