The archaeology of a new genre: ‘Platform of values’ texts of public authorities in Sweden

This research project on platform of values, carried out from 2016 to 2019, has analyzed the design, use and understanding of platforms of values within Swedish public administration, where the genre has rapidly gained popularity.

By collecting and analyzing a large number of platform of values texts we have been able to show how vagueness and expressions of a positive attitude are compulsory features of the texts along with legitimations claiming that the texts are useful tools for goal fulfilment.

Further data  – a focus group discussion and a questionnaire performed at three larger public authorities – contribute to connecting the textual features to the perception of the texts as tools for goal fulfilment: the texts appear to have a key function in presenting positive identities for the employees and keeping the discussion of the aims and ideals of the authority alive . In that way, the texts operationalize a type of governance that particularly aims at the identities of civil servants along with certain ways of carrying out duties that are loyal to the values of the authority at hand.

The research project has continuously addressed the critical question of how that type of loyalty and collective action is compatible with the transparency and versatility of core tasks at public authorities.

FundingRiksbankens jubileumsfond


Nyström Höög, Catharina, 2017: Texts at work. The construction of an ideal workplace in ‘platforms of values’. I: Discourse Studies – Ways and Crossroads, red. av K. Broś & G. Kowalski. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. S. 231–145.

Björkvall, 2018: Critical Genre Analysis of management texts in the public sector. I: Kritiska text- och diskursstudier, red. av C. Seiler Brylla m.fl. Södertörns högskola.

Nyström Höög & Björkvall, 2018: Keeping the discussion among civil servants alive. ‘Platform of values’ as an emerging genre within the public sector in Sweden. Scandinavian Journal of public administration 22(3), 2018.

Björkvall & Nyström Höög, 2019: Legitimation of value practices, value texts and core values at public authorities. Discourse & Communication 13(4), 2019.

Björkvall, Anders (under utg.) The critical analysis of genre and social action. I: The Cambridge Handbook of Discourse Studies, red av A. De Fina & A. Georgakopoulou. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Nyström Höög, Catharina (under utg.) Framåt och uppåt. Om bildmotiv i svenska myndigheters värdegrunder.

Nyström Höög, Catharina (accepterad) Core values in public administration. Tools for openness and democracy? CADAAD Journal.

Björkvall & Nyström Höög (inskickad) Semiotic vagueness as a tool for goal fulfilment: ‘Platforms of values’ in Swedish public administration.

Researchers:Catharina Nyström Höög och Anders Björkvall.

Catharina Nyström Höög (project manager), Dala University.

Anders Björkvall, Scholl of Humanities, Education and Social sciences, Örebro University.

Student papers:

Linnea Wenell, master 2018: Vad betyder vi är lyhörda i värdegrunder? En kartläggning och systemisk-funktionell analys av vi är-konstruktionen i myndighetstexter.

Anton Nyström, kandidat 2017: Bilden av den glada myndigheten. En multimodal analys av svenska myndigheters värdegrundstexter.

Carin Leibring Svedjedal, master 2016: Den trovärdiga, kunniga och öppna myndigheten. En kritisk analys av värdegrundstexters ideologiska förankring och ideationella struktur.