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Rethinking Imaginaries: A Discussion on the Swedish Tradition of Openness, the GDPR, and the Case of Publication Certificates

An Ideographic Analysis of Ideology and Utopia in the Rhetoric of the Swedish Parliament on the Matter of Voluntary Publication Certificates Author: Diana


  • Diana Stefania Grigorescu

Summary, in English

Sweden has an almost three-century-long tradition of openness, whose principles are enshrined in the state’s fundamental laws. When the revolution of the Internet was in full bloom at the turn of the century, with new forms of mass communication innovating the media landscape, Sweden saw the opportunity to strengthen freedom of expression and information, as one of the main pillars of openness. The constitutional protection ensured by the Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression was thus extended to encompass emerging online activities aimed at disseminating information and facilitating free speech. What was needed to acquire this protection was the voluntary issuance of a so called ‘publication certificate’.The accessibility of these certificates was exploited by many, including a new type of search service that extracts people’s data from public registers, compiles it, and publishes it online, available for everyone to access.
The mission of this master’s thesis is to carry out an analysis of the shifting values of openness and privacy in Swedish society, by following the life cycle of the publication certificate and the attitudes towards its controversial use, as reflected in the rhetoric displayed in motions and debates of the Swedish Riksdag. The first hypothesis is that the pre eminence of openness in Swedish society becomes gradually shadowed by privacy and data protection concerns. The second one is that, on the background of augmenting discontent over ‘too much openness’, the process of Europeanisation in the area of protection and processing of personal data is also accelerated. Both hypothesises are tested by placing the principles of openness and privacy within Ricoeur’s concept of social imaginary, animated by ideology and utopia as opposing and coexisting forces. The theoretical framework is complemented by elements belonging to Berger and Luckmann’s social theory of knowledge, while the main methodological tool for approaching the sources is McGee’s Ideographic Criticism.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Master's degree (two years)


  • Social Sciences


  • openness
  • freedom of expression
  • privacy
  • data protection
  • GDPR
  • social imaginary
  • ideology
  • utopia
  • Swedish Riksdag
  • social reality
  • European Studies


  • Anamaria Dutceac Segesten (Biträdande Lektor)