The Politics of Arms Sales in France and Sweden, 1990-2014 : explaining “Divergent Convergence”

par Lucie Béraud-Sudreau

Projet de thèse en Science politique

Sous la direction de Yves Surel.

  • Résumé

    France and Sweden in the arms transfers literature represent opposite arms export behaviours. France was the typical “industrial” exporter, selling arms indiscriminately for economic purposes, whereas, Sweden used to be the typical “restrictive” exporter. However, since the 1990s, the Swedish arms export policy appears to have converged towards the French model. To measure this change, I look at French and Swedish arms export policies on three dimensions (outcomes, instruments and content), on their two aspects (export control and export promotion). The main finding is that Sweden converged towards France on arms export promotion, but diverged on arms export controls. This result can be qualified as “divergent convergence” (Levi-Faur & Jordana, 2005). The research question this Ph.D. asks, is then: Why do we observe a “divergent convergence” between France and Sweden? In more empirical terms: why is there convergence on export promotion aspects of the policy, but divergence on export control aspects? Various theoretical frameworks studied convergence and divergence. However, more actor-centred approaches provide more comprehensive answers to my research question. According to authors grounded in political sociology, actors “use” the broader context to promote institutional change in order to achieve policy objectives, through political struggles. Policy change is caused by actors’ interactions and their ability to conjugate exogenous factors of change and endogenous resources and constraints. “Divergent convergence” between France and Sweden could thus be the result of domestic actors’ power struggles and their use of exogenous changes. Therefore I expect to find conflicting actors in the Swedish decision-making system; some actors who favour export promotion, causing convergence toward France, and resistance by actors who favour restrictive controls, thus maintaining divergence with France (Hypothesis 1). On the contrary, in France, I expect to find no such division within the arms export policy decision-making system, that is to say an absence of resistance to actors favouring export promotion (Hypothesis 2).

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