The struggle over the welfare state. A history of the welfare concepts in sweden 1850-2010

Project leader

Funding source

Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (RJ)

Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2013
End date: 30/04/2016


Swedish political and societal self-understanding is centred on welfare. Welfare is a crucial term and has occupied that position for a long time. How has welfare been understood at different times? How have welfare policy, welfare society and welfare state become key concepts? How have these concepts been defined over time? These questions guide the study "The Struggle over the Welfare State" which maps and analyses the changing meanings and usages which the welfare concepts have seen since the mid-19th century.

The study starts from the premise that concepts have multiple and contested meanings. This is so because different actors in society define them in different ways and invest them with competing visions, plans and reform agendas for the coming society. Politics is a struggle for control over the future, over the concepts, problem definitions and privileged interpretations that guide reforms. The welfare concepts are key concepts in this important sense, they are open for continued discussion and contestation. The historical analysis provides knowledge about how "social policy" and "welfare" have been defined and understood. Studies of this kind are missing and this is surprising taking the welfare state's importance for all sectors of modern society and the lives we live. "The Struggle over the Welfare State" will contribute greatly to the writing of political history and to our historically determined and changing understanding of contemporary society and politics.

Last updated on 2017-24-03 at 12:18