Population anxieties in constituting Nordic welfare state futures: affective biopolitics in the age of environmental crises

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Abstract

Declining fertility rates across world have generated deep concern among different stakeholders. In 2019, Finland’s fertility rate was at an ‘ultra-low’ 1.35 children per woman. Investigating the affective work of policymaking on population issues—‘population anxieties’—in a Nordic welfare state, this article constructs a genealogy of the affective biopolitics of populations in Finland. Drawing from a corpus of historical and recent materials, the article explores how population policy has invited and harnessed emotional orientation towards certain collective futures, while being disclosive of others. The analysis focuses on the issues of ‘fertility decline’ and ‘the environment’, and the reconfigurations of the population–environment nexus over the past decades. The article argues that persistent concerns about depopulation through ultra-low fertility underlie the affective stakes of Nordic biopolitics. Meanwhile, there is evident resistance to connecting population policy concerns with the climate crisis in the Nordic context. While in the so-called developing countries, demographic and ecological futures are seen mutually constitutive, the connection is not perceived as relevant to the Finnish welfare state. This is so despite Finland belonging to the affluent part of the world that is the largest producer of carbon dioxide emissions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBIOSOCIETIES
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Mar 2023
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 2

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