Berättelser från en välfärdsstat : Om förståelse av marginalisering
Sammanfattning: This dissertation is based on two research projects, both of which are linked to concepts such as exclusion, marginalisation and other related themes. CASE, the project that forms the principal basis for the dissertation, is a comparative study of “social exclusion” in seven European countries whose objective has been to illuminate those situations in people’s lives that involve difficulties and that may or may not have been resolved satisfactorily. The other project, MAX, is a Swedish study of drug abuse and marginalisation whose objective has inter alia been to illustrate the ways in which drug users in different life-situations perceive and interpret these situations. Using material from these two projects, the dissertation’s overall objective involves improving our understanding of marginalisation by adding to the existing knowledge of living conditions among the more impoverished and vulnerable members of the welfare society, with the focus being directed at their experiences of difficulties, opportunities and resources in relation to areas such as work and their financial situation. This is done in the context of two principal themes which relate to different research questions, but which are nonetheless linked together through their association with themes such as those of living conditions, marginalisation and the welfare state. The dissertation’s first theme, “Marginalisation and the welfare state”, builds exclusively on material from the CASE project and illuminates the situations immigrants in Sweden may face as they look for work. Despite the political rhetoric about inclusion and equality, they are faced with a labour market where a diffuse demand for “Swedishness” appears to play a central role. Several interview subjects spoke of how they felt they had been consigned to unqualified work, unemployment and benefit dependency. As a whole this section of the dissertation bears witness to a striking discrepancy between the rhetoric of integration policy on equality of conditions and opportunity and a social praxis that places various obstacles in immigrants’ paths and that consistently confronts them with a sense of being “un-Swedish”. The work presented here also seeks to improve our theoretical understanding of marginalisation, and the analysis makes use of concepts and ideas from among others Bauman and Bourdieu. The second theme, “With the welfare state as a reference point”, also builds on narratives from CASE, but also on interviews from the MAX study, and illuminates how the Swedish welfare state is reflected in interviews with low-income and vulnerable individuals. Amongst other things, the empirical examples illustrate the role assigned to the welfare state, and that which it appears to play, in relation to the interview subjects’ income and daily lives, and also how the subjects in the two projects express their expectations of and disappointment over the welfare system in their narratives describing the events and difficulties they have experienced. The theoretical analysis uses ideas from amongst others Giddens in an attempt to view the interview subjects’ references to the welfare system as a manifestation of an interplay between the individual and structural planes.
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