Governing Welfare : The third sector and the challenges to the Swedish Welfare State

Sammanfattning: The overall issue addressed in this thesis is the challanges to the Swedish welfare state. This topic has been the subject of several different interpretations in the academic as well as political debate in Sweden over the last decade. The first of two questions raised in this thesis is therefore what the main challenges to the Swedish welfare state are. It is concluded that the main challenges are the challanges to the representative democracy that originate in measures to meet the economic challenges to the Swedish welfare state by making it more efficient and rational. The main challenges to the Swedish welfare state are, therefore, a mix of interrelated economic and democratic challenges. A specific factor is tested for its possible impact on these challenges and that factor is third sector provision of welfare services. The second of the two research questions is therefore in what way and to what extent the third sector can influence how the identified challenges affect the welfare state. Childcare is selected as an example of a welfare service where there are a considerable proportion of third sector providers, primarily parent and worker cooperatives. The diversity, level of participation and service quality of different types of childcare is analysed with regard to how they affect the here presented challenges to the welfare state. It is concluded from this analysis that there are democratic benefits in the third sector provision of childcare that can act complementary to the challenged representative democracy. It is also concluded, however, that not all Swedish childcare can be provided by the third sector and that its democratic benefits therefore also should be produced by other types of childcare by imitating the third sectors active participation, small scale and independence. This study shows that Sweden is rapidly moving towards a greater diversity in its delivery of welfare service and that there are no policies or institutions for facilitating a more diverse service provision. An additional conclusion is for this reason that the outcome of the economic and democratic challenges varies with the direction of this diversification, which tells us that such policies and institutions are desirable. The Swedish welfare state will be getting a more diverse provision of welfare services regardless if there is any readiness for it or not and the results from this thesis show that the third sector is the non-public type of welfare provider that best facilitate the values and morals of the welfare state.