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Transformations of the Swedish welfare state: from social engineering to governance?

Edited book
Authors Bengt Larsson
Martin Letell
Håkan Thörn
ISBN 978-0-230-29341-0
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Place of publication New York
Publication year 2012
Published at Department of Sociology and Work Science
Centre for European Research (CERGU)
Language en
Subject categories Sociology


In the early 1990s, a centre-right government declared that they would implement a 'system shift' in Sweden, often perceived as a 'model country' in the context of welfare policy discourse. The neoliberal ideology inspiring this shift had already influenced the Social Democratic government's of the mid-1980s, in its attempts to find a way out of the economic problems of the 1970s. It was not until the 1990s, however, that an increasing number of social spheres, and a substantial part of the population, started to become seriously affected by the cutbacks in the public sector and the re-organization of the welfare system. Using an analytical framework based on Michel Foucault'sconcept of governmentality, this volume contributes unique case studies of the ongoing transformations of the Swedish welfare state. Contributors with long research experience in their respective fields take a close look at what kind of changes have taken place, what their rationalities were, and what the effects have been.

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