Den kalkylerande medborgaren : Bidragsfusk i svensk välfärdsdebatt 1990-2010

Sammanfattning: This dissertation analyses discourse on benefit fraud in Sweden between 1990 and 2010. First, it maps general trends in public discourse about benefit fraud. This is done through a content analysis of news reporting about benefit fraud in four Swedish newspapers. This part of the dissertation shows that the number of published news articles about benefit fraud have increased significantly since 1990. Particularly large numbers of articles were published during the middle of the 1990s, and between 2002 and 2006.  Second, a qualitative discourse analysis of talk about benefit fraud in news texts, political debates and government reports is conducted. During periods of intense news coverage about fraud, reporting is often clearly marked by traits generally associated with moral panics; constructing the phenomenon as seemingly more common than it in reality is, constructing cheaters as a threat to the moral fiber of society, and also claiming the need for counter-measures. The qualitative analysis furthermore focuses on how the relation-ships between different subject positions are constructed in the collected material. This part of the analysis shows that fraud discourse in Sweden during the past twenty years have shifted from a dominant focus on alleged cheating among immigrants in the early 1990s, to claims of abuse within the sickness insurance program after 2002. The analysis also shows that benefit fraud is constructed as a political problem using neoliberal discursive strategies that [1] reduce welfare policies to financial costs, [2] constitute benefit claimants as individually responsible for their inability to support themselves through regular work, and [3] articulate the welfare state as an instrument for the moral regulation of citizens.