The neoliberal restructuring of the welfare state : pension system reform in Sweden, a critical case study

Belfrage, Claes Axel (2008). The neoliberal restructuring of the welfare state : pension system reform in Sweden, a critical case study. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis draws on the 'critical case' of Sweden and focuses on the provision of pensions to assess the extent to which the post-war social democratic regime and adherent meanings and practices in daily life have been transformed in a neoliberal direction. The Swedish economy of the late 1990s, still distinctly social democratic, although retrenched and increasingly 'financialised', was not stable. The 1999 pension reform has further privatised financial risk and hence potentially advanced neoliberalism. By subjecting the ability to consume, in working-life as well as m retirement, to financial market performance, the rate of growth of inequity 1s accelerated. The systemic infrastructure and the knowledge-formation required for this pension system to function as intended as well as be accepted as legitimate seem however to be lacking. The system engineers, following neoliberal ideas, sought to fulfil the objective of institutionalising a mass investment culture in the everyday by promoting the notion of risk as potentially profitable if managed well. Yet, as argued in the thesis, due to their politico-ideological preferences, they underestimated the resilience of existing demographic and geographical cleavages formed by the traumas and desires provoked by economic restructuring and financialisation in the post-war period. By analysing subject-formation in the everyday, the thesis shows that for a finance-led accumulation regime to be stable in Sweden, these cleavages and inadequacies have to be regulated. The new pension system in Sweden thus points to the tendential microfoundational limits of the projects of neoliberalism and financialisation.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Schools (1998 to 2008) > School of Social Science
School or Department: Department of Political Science and International Studies
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)


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