En industriell reservarmé i välfärdsstaten - Arbetslösa socialhjälpstagare i Sverige 1913-2012
This economic history dissertation explores a central contradiction within the Swedish welfare state, the contradiction of the welfare state’s goal to decommodify its citizens from market fluctuations and the constant need for a flexible workforce within the capitalist system. On one hand, the Swedish welfare state during the 20th century has developed into one of the most decommodifying welfare state regimes in the world, a welfare state in which the ambition has been to minimize risk and market exposure for its citizens by means of insurance systems covering unemployment, health and pensions. On the other hand, the Swedish welfare state is built upon the premises of capitalism and the need for constant economic growth. According to Karl Marx in Capital, there is always a need for a poor and destitute industrial reserve army within the capitalist society: people who can start working immediately if the market demands it. This dissertation shows that throughout the period studied there have been people who, because of unemployment, have had to turn to means-tested benefits since they were not eligible for relief work or first and foremost unemployment insurance. This is in no way a modern phenomenon, but rather one that has fluctuated with the market over time. The composition of the unemployed on means-tested benefits has also shifted, from older people in forest districts and women, to young males and immigrants. The state has increased its involvement over time and stepped in and increased its subsidies to unemployment funds, as well as developing alternative forms of unemployment schemes. By doing so the state has eased the burden of those who are unemployed but not entitled to unemployment insurance. Since 2001, the requirements facing claimants of unemployment allowance have become stricter with the introduction of workfare. Since 2007, extensive changes in unemployment insurance have left an increasing proportion of the unemployed with only the means-tested allowance to rely on. The Swedish state has managed to ease the burden of being unemployed, but it has in no way managed to overcome the remaining need of an industrial reserve army. KEYWORDS: Sweden, welfare state, reserve army of labour, precariat, social insurance, unemployment, poor relief, social help, Marxism, marginal workers, decommodofication, recommodification.
Doctor of Philosophy
Göteborgs universitet. Handelshögskolan
Department of Economy and Society ; Institutionen för ekonomi och samhälle
Fredagen 5 juni 2015, kl. 10.15, Hörsal Sappören, Sprängkullsgatan 25
Date of defence
Gothenburg Studies in Economic History