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Financializing the lives if Swedes with orange envelopes
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE). Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Anthropology.
2011 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Every spring all Swedish, taxpaying, citizens receive an orange envelope from the government. On first glance the envelopes contains individual and specific information about each citizen’s future state pension. The aim of this paper is to shed light on the educative messages also forwarded with the orange envelopes. In 1999 Sweden got a new national pension system that is part redistributory and part funded where each citizen is required to place some of his/her future pension on the financial market. Another novelty is that each individual’s pension benefits are based upon the sum of an entire life of employment and that every citizen “chooses” what age he or she wants, or is able, to retire. The technologies built into the construction of the pension system not only shift the responsibility of pension ages and levels from the political sphere to each individual citizen but also, this paper argues, aim at educating the general public in thinking financially about their lives and all through life.

The year plus long fieldwork among pension system experts, politicians and bureaucrats sheds light on how these producers and distributors of the pension scheme set out to educate the general public and teach Swedish citizens to “think financially” all through life in order to secure their future pension. Conversely an interview study among “ordinary Swedes” show that the new national pension system is received with great skepticism causing people to feel confused, angry, cheated and incompetent rather than invoking a sense of security.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
anthropology of finance, political anthropology, pension system reform
National Category
Other Social Sciences
Research subject
Social Anthropology
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-94659OAI: diva2:654764
American Anthropological Association
Available from: 2013-10-08 Created: 2013-10-08 Last updated: 2013-10-24

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