Welfare state practices and the constitution of the citizen: Nordic models of capitalism in an age of globalisation

Lead Research Organisation: Oxford Brookes University
Department Name: Faculty of Health and Life Sciences


Comparative political economy has been dominated in recent years by the issue of globalisation. Within that literature, the Nordic economies are routinely presented as special cases. Their social democratic traditions are thought to provide the test of the claim that globalisation will lead to the homogenisation of national models of capitalism. Some commentators have concluded that the Nordic model must bow to the neoliberalising tendencies of globalisation. Others have argued that it can continue to serve as a viable alternative within a generally neoliberal world.

This project will contribute to the debate by providing new comparative evidence. Redressing the imbalance of previous research by comparing the neglected cases of Norway and Finland with the more familiar Swedish case, the project analyses the reasons behind the surprising resilience of the Nordic cases in combining uniquely generous welfare provision with economic competitiveness. The project will offer a new approach to evaluating this resilience by looking at the relationship between welfare institutions and the social ideals and practices of citizenship. The project will ask whether the future of the welfare state could be evaluated in terms of its constitution of the national citizen and its defence of the ideals of citizenship.