Corporations, the welfare state, and covert misogyny in the girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Anna Westerståhl Stenport, Cecilia Ovesdotter Alm

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


International readers of the Millennium trilogy may identify Sweden with high taxes, generous welfare state policies, and a strong commitment to social justice and gender equality. While many aspects of these policies remain, Sweden has become an integral part of a larger global economy. Here, we examine how narrative strategy in Dragon Tattoo depends on corporate structures as predominant vehicles of storytelling that shape and distinguish Stieg Larsson's characters. Additionally, we observe how corporate and gendered practices are consistently intertwined in the novel. For example, the titles of Dragon Tattoo's four major sections are derived from corporate rhetoric-"Incentive," "Consequence Analyses," "Mergers," and "Hostile Takeover"-as is the epilogue's title, "Final Audit" (449). Yet each of these snippets of business jargon is juxtaposed with statistics about women's abuse in contemporary Sweden. Under "Part 1: Incentive," for example, we learn that "eighteen percent of the women in Sweden have at one time been threatened by a man" (9). Under "Part 2: Consequence Analyses," readers are informed that "forty-six percent of the women in Sweden have been subjected to violence by a man" (103); under "Part 3: Mergers," it is revealed that "thirteen percent of the women in Sweden have been subjected to aggravated sexual assault outside of a sexual relationship" (217); and the statement paired with "Part 4: Hostile Takeover" tells us that "ninety-two percent of women in Sweden who have been subjected to sexual assault have not reported the most recent violent incident to the police" (351). (Sources for these details are given on the novel's copyright page in the original Swedish version; no sources are provided in the English translation.) This structural juxtaposition between corporate rhetoric and statistics on violence against women indicates that Larsson clearly intends to bring these two domains together in Dragon Tattoo. But to what end?.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMen Who Hate Women and Women Who Kick Their Asses
Subtitle of host publicationStieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy in Feminist Perspective
PublisherVanderbilt University Press
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9780826518514
ISBN (Print)9780826518491
StatePublished - 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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