The politics of profit in Swedish welfare services: four decades of Social Democratic ambivalence

Gabrielle Meagher, Marta Szebehely

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

The Social Democratic architects of the Swedish welfare state considered public provision as well as public funding of welfare services essential to realising their egalitarian ambitions. However, since the early 1990s, a highly concentrated, for-profit sector has emerged in welfare service provision. We analyse how the Swedish Social Democrats have discussed privatisation and the profit motive in welfare services from the 1980s to the present. We find that Social Democratic governments have defended public provision weakly across the period. The driving factors include the eclipse of the egalitarian ideal in favour of ideals of choice and diversity, internal disunity within the party on the profit question, and change in the political power order in Sweden, such that private welfare companies and their interest organisations have gained and now wield significant influence over welfare service policy.

LanguageEnglish
Pages455-476
Number of pages22
JournalCritical Social Policy
Volume39
Issue number3
Early online date24 Sep 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019

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ambivalence
profit
welfare
politics
political power
architect
welfare state
privatization
Sweden
funding
present

Keywords

  • egalitarianism
  • policy frames
  • privatisation
  • provider interest organisations
  • Social Democrats

Cite this

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The politics of profit in Swedish welfare services : four decades of Social Democratic ambivalence. / Meagher, Gabrielle; Szebehely, Marta.

In: Critical Social Policy, Vol. 39, No. 3, 01.08.2019, p. 455-476.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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