Registers of Security: The Concept of 'Tryghed' in Danish Politics

Laust Lund Elbek, Peter Starke

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


On the face of it, existing theoretical and empirical work on the politics of (in)security takes language and speech acts seriously, yet often actually fails to problematize how the very meaning of ‘security’ and related terms can differ across social, political, and linguistic contexts. This article demonstrates the consequences of context-specific registers of security for the dynamics of political debate and policymaking. Such registers of security combine the local meanings and specific emotional connotations of security terms. In this article, we focus on the role of the term tryghed in Danish politics, especially its use by the Danish Social Democratic Party since 2019. Ostensibly just another word for ‘security’, we argue that, in contrast to sikkerhed (security/safety), tryghed evokes a very different emotional register, centered around warmth, motherliness, and the home. Based on official documents, speeches, and interviews with key politicians, the article shows how this rhetoric allowed the Danish government to put forth a policy mix of welfare expansion, immigration restrictions, and tough law-and-order policies, often effectively targeting male immigrant youths. Tryghed has been the term that binds these different elements together, supporting both welfare nostalgia and insider bias. While this formula has led to electoral success, the article also discusses its inherent limitations. The case highlights the blind spots of a certain Anglocentrism in security studies.

TidsskriftSecurity Dialogue
Udgave nummer2
Sider (fra-til)216-234
Antal sider19
StatusUdgivet - apr. 2024


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