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A Crisis Later: Legitimizing Changes made in Sweden, Paving the Way for More
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2013 (English)In: ILPC 2013. Book of Abstracts / [ed] Heather McKay, Rutgers: Rutgers University , 2013Conference paper, Abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The purpose of the paper is to analyze relations between financial crises and state/government responses (particularly unemployment, welfare state benefits and privatization) in Sweden.

Sweden is of particular interest in this respect for (at least) three reasons. First, Sweden has (so far) not experienced problems related to the financial crisis to the same extent as many other (mainly ‘Western’) countries have. Second, after a long period of social democratic rule, Sweden has for the first time in nearly 100 years a two-term centre-right government (installed 2006) which historically consistently has opposed a large tax-financed public sector involving redistribution of funds. Third, Sweden historically had among the most extensive welfare states in the world (apart from socialist countries). In line with neoclassical ideas and NPM, Sweden has however turned to one of the countries (apart from pre-communist ones) pushing deregulation, privatization and welfare transition the furthest.

What is noteworthy is that the transition from left to right government as well as the partial dismantling of the Swedish welfare state in Sweden largely per-dates the current financial crisis and was first initiated by the former Social Democratic government, largely in response to the economic crisis in Sweden in the early 1990s, and then escalated by the succeeding centre-right government. This seemingly challenges a clear linear causal link from the current financial crisis to neoliberal responses.

The argument put forth is, however, that financial crises are not just creating opportunity structures for making certain drastic and unpopular changes – some of which have little or nothing to do with the causes or solutions to the current crisis. A financial crisis can also be used in attempts to rewrite history and legitimize changes already made as unpleasant and unwanted, but inevitable. Governmental decisions actually made based on certain political ideologies prior to – and with highly limited anticipation of – the current financial crisis are thereby justified as rational, unpolitical and objective safe-guarding made by a responsible governing party. This, in turn, makes it possible to block reforms restoring previous conditions and to push changes further without having to announce a systematic change from the welfare state that the Swedish citizens hold dear or to defend a neoliberal agenda.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Rutgers: Rutgers University , 2013.
Keyword [en]
Welfare, politics, changes
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-96511OAI: diva2:666224
International Labour Process Conference
Available from: 2013-11-22 Created: 2013-11-22 Last updated: 2013-11-22

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