På andra sidan välfärdsstaten. En studie i politiska idéers betydelse
The thesis "On the other side of the welfare state" argues for the importance of combining the study of institutional design with the study of political ideas. In order to understand societal and historical change focus has to be directed towards political ideas that influence political actors during a historical formative moment. As historical continuity is linked to a path dependent development, ideas once embedded in the institutional design influence history on a long run. Hence, ideas may be regarded as important independent variables explaining why a particular historical path has been chosen.To understand how ideas get embedded into institutions analytical tools are developed. Two ideal types individualism and collectivism are deduced from a general political philosophical problem dealing with the relation between the individual and the community. To bridge the gap between ideas and politics, linguistic theory regarding the relation between metaphorical language and our way of understanding the world is used. These analytical tools are then used to study the relation between political ideas and institutional design concerning a specific historical case: the development of the Swedish welfare state model. The Swedish welfare state is defined by a metaphorical expression folkhemmet ("people's home") that is developed into a specific collectivist ideology. To find the specific folkhem ideology, two idea carriers are analysed: the author Ellen Key and the professor of Political Science Rudolf Kjellén. Their way of discussing folkhem ideas is then related to parliamentary discussion leading to the formation of two core folkhem institutions: the proportional electoral system (1907) and the National Board of Health and Welfare (1912). In the parliamentary debate actors are advocating not only collectivist folkhem ideas but also individualistic ideas that could have resulted in other institutional solutions. This indicates that ideas are important variables and not given as a result of structural changes. It also shows that actors are important since it is they who actually decide whether to build a new institution or not in accordance with the ideological beliefs they share. The conclusion to be drawn is that political ideas contribute to our understanding of the process that leads to institutional change, by serving as mind maps that influence actors' behaviour.
Göteborgs universitet/University of Gothenburg
Department of Political Science
Date of defence