Vem älskar välfärdsstaten? : attityder, organiserade intressen och svensk välfärdspolitik

Sammanfattning: This thesis is a contribution to the debate about the political support for the welfare state. Attitudes to Swedish welfare policies are studied, using data from a national survey on a representative sample made in 1986. Political support is also analyzed from the perspective of 'organized interests', that is, how political parties and interest organizations have articulated their views on welfare policies. The time period begins 1970 and extends tothe present.A theoretical framework for the analysis of interest formation is presented. Various theories of interest formation are discussed and criticized. Attitudes are viewed as the joint products of personal experiences on 'the arena of everyday life' and political articulations on 'the public arena'. The role of organized interests in the formation of popular attitudes is focussed.Empirical data on popular attitudes to Swedish welfare policy show that there is a strong support for major welfare programmes, such as health services, support for the elderly and families with children, education, and employment policies. This strong support is, however, mixed with critique of administrative aspects, such asbure aucracy and state intervention in peoples’ lives. There is also a widespread suspicion of abuse of the welfare system. Comparisons of attitudes in different social groups reveal that class, and 'class-related' determinants, such as income and education, are more important than other determinants, such as gender, public or private employment and consumption groups. Workers, people on low income and people with low education are supporting Swedish welfare policies.The organized interests' articulation of different aspects of welfare policies are studied through ananalysis of their political programmes in the period 1970-85, and in a comparison between the debate about the'seven-crowns reform’ in health services in 1969-70, and the debate about waiting days in the health insurance in the early eighties. These examples show that the right-wing parties and the employers’ federation perceive welfare policy primarily as an administrative issue, where relations between individuals and authorities are in the focus. The Social Democrats and the trade unions present welfare policy as a distributive issue, where questions of distribution between different groups become central.In conclusion, it is argued that the structure of Swedish welfare policy both restricts and facilitates different political strategies. The general and inclusive character makes critique of distributional aspects less successful, while critique of administrative aspects is more appealing to the public. On the whole, Swedish welfare policy has so far had strong support and attempts to outright cutbacks or changes have had little success. However, recent changes in the distribution of resources between private and public sector may undermine the political support for the Swedish welfare state in the long run.