Marketization in Swedish Eldercare Implications for Users, Professionals, and the State

Detta är en avhandling från Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Sammanfattning: During the last decades, Swedish policy makers have implemented various marketization reforms into the public welfare sector in order to make it more cost-efficient and to improve its quality. The aim of this dissertation is to investigate what implications this marketization trend has had for the organization of Swedish eldercare. In particular, the research question addressed is how marketization reforms such as privatized provision, increased competition, and user choice have transformed the relationship between the service users, the professionals, and the state. To answer the research question, four articles are presented in the dissertation, each corresponding to a separate empirical investigation. Together, the articles demonstrate that the increased reliance on marketization in Swedish eldercare has made it more difficult for the local authorities to directly control the quality of the services, since it reduces their ability to allocate public resources and expects them to govern the provision of eldercare through the entering of contracts. This development has also implied that service users themselves become increasingly responsible for ensuring that the quality of their care is high. Moreover, the articles show that the increased reliance on audit by the national government and its agencies has tended to undermine the professionalization of eldercare staff, thereby limiting their autonomy and ability to ensure service quality. As a whole, the dissertation contributes with a more comprehensive understanding of how marketization has altered the organization of Swedish eldercare and under what conditions it might undermine the goals of social equality and ensuring that all citizens have equal access to good quality care.