Tudelad trots allt : dualismens överlevnad i den svenska staten 1718-1987
Sammanfattning: On May 1, 1720 the Swedish Riksdag took a seemingly peripheral decision which would however prove to have great and enduring consequences for the organization of the country’s central state administration. The model adopted then is today often referred to as the ‘dualism’ of the Swedish state. In international comparison this dualism – expressed primarily in the organizational division between a set of quite small ministries and a large number of autonomous government agencies in combination with the constitutional prohibition of individual ministers to issue authoritative orders to the agencies – is probably unique.This dualism has been characterized as “one of the great mysteries of Swedish political life” and one aspect of this mysteriousness concerns its very longevity. The main research question of this thesis is why this model has been able to survive for such a long period despite the heavy and recurring critique that has been levelled at it. Through analyses of the public debate on the issue of the dualist character of the Swedish state during four selected periods (1809-1829, 1905-1920, 1963-1972 and 1983-1987) when the critical voices have been particularly loud and articulate, a systematic picture is provided of both the participants and the argument of the debates. It is shown that critics of dualism have blamed it for being “anti-democratic”, “antiquated”, and “a threat against the rule of law” while defenders of dualism have often portrayed it as “modern”, “effective”, and “a guarantee for the rule of law”.The answer to the main research question of why the political institution of dualism has persisted for so long may briefly be summarized in the statement that it has survived by changing. In theoretical terms the thesis is inspired by historical institutionalism, a tradition which has so far mostly contributed to our understanding of institutional stability. Recently, however, theoretical developments in historical institutionalism have rather aimed at an improved analysis of change. This thesis appropriates these new ideas, especially those developed by political scientist Kathleen Thelen, in the analysis of Swedish dualism. In particular the two concepts of institutional conversion and institutional layering are tested. In the thesis it is argued that the new analytical tools were indeed instrumental in understanding and explaining institutional change but also that further elaboration of them seems necessary. Using a both longitudinal and process-oriented approach focussing on the arguments of the actors this thesis has contributed to such an elaboration of the tools for the analysis of change within the tradition of historical institutionalism.
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