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State Crime in the Street-Level Bureaucracy: Towards an Understanding of Crimes of the Welfare State
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Criminology.
2012 (English)In: International Criminal Justice Review, ISSN 1057-5677, E-ISSN 1556-3855, Vol. 22, no 3, 258-275 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

On the basis of two points of departure: (1) no state has clean hands and (2) the types of crime a state commits vary with state formations, this article explores cases where the Swedish state and its agencies have been held responsible for some form of wrongdoing. Drawing on a total of 8,561 judgments issued against the state by agencies of control (the Parliamentary Ombudsman, the Chancellor of Justice, and the European Court of Human Rights), the study finds that most cases of substantive and procedural crime committed by the state are related to the street-level bureaucracy, where state officials working in public sector agencies interact with citizens in the course of their everyday employment. Further, the study finds that most of the judgments revolve around issues of particular accountability relating to the individual interests of the complainants and that only a relatively small portion involve complaints against the state in relation to general policies or general conduct. One overall conclusion is that the crimes committed by the Swedish welfare state involve acts of negligence rather than purposeful acts of repression, and that the offences primarily involve procedural rather than substantive wrongs. The results are interpreted as a function of both how state bureaucracy works and of the limited ability of the existing control mechanisms.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 22, no 3, 258-275 p.
Keyword [en]
state crime, welfare state, street-level bureaucracy, control of the state
National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
Research subject
Criminology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-85021DOI: 10.1177/1057567712456872OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-85021DiVA: diva2:582348
Available from: 2013-01-04 Created: 2013-01-04 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Controlling the Swedish state: Studies on formal and informal bodies of control
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Controlling the Swedish state: Studies on formal and informal bodies of control
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The dissertation aims to develop an understanding of the outcomes and limitations of formal and informal control of the Swedish state, and of the positions and strategies of the social agents involved in this field. The dissertation contributes with new perspectives on controls directed at the state, comparing various control organs (the Parliamentary Ombudsman, the Chancellor of Justice, the United Nations, the European Court of Human Rights and NGOs) and focusing on a wide range of wrongs and harms by the Swedish state.

Paper I explores incidents for which the Swedish state and its agencies have been judged to be responsible by formal control organs. Paper II analyzes the accounts used by state representatives in judgments from formal control organs on issues related to migration. Paper III examines the characteristics of those who hold the state accountable via the European Court. Paper IV explores how formal and informal control organs frame problems in relation to the Swedish state’s treatment of residence permit applicants.

The studies demonstrate that formal domestic control organs mainly direct criticisms at state agencies that focus on particular and procedural issues. International bodies of formal and particularly informal control publish criticisms of the state that focus on general and systemic issues. The dissertation highlights how control organs offer limited access to accountability, and how controls of the state may be perceived as both ineffective and counterproductive. Another conclusion is that the positions and strategies of the agents in this field are dependent on their specific capital (resources, knowledge and support). Control of the state is understood as a field of struggle for recognition and legitimacy, in which accusations are denied by representatives of the state and control organs balance their criticism in order to maintain credibility. Both informal control organs and those who hold the state accountable must adjust to the rules of the game or risk being defined out.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Criminology, Stockholm University, 2014. 86 p.
Series
Avhandlingsserie / Kriminologiska institutionen, Stockholms universitet, ISSN 1404-1820 ; 36
Keyword
Parliamentary Ombudsman, Chancellor of Justice, United Nations, European Court of Human Rights, NGOs, control of the state, accountability, state crime, Sweden, techniques of neutralizations, problem representations, immigration
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Criminology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-110050 (URN)978-91-7649-067-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-01-16, hörsal 8, hus D, Universitetsvägen 10 D, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 4: Manuscript.

Available from: 2014-12-18 Created: 2014-12-04 Last updated: 2014-12-16Bibliographically approved

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