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Rethinking the Nordic welfare state through a neo-Hegelian theory of state and civil society
Ersta Sköndal University College, Department of Social Sciences, Avdelningen för forskning om det civila samhället.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1913-5402
2010 (English)In: Journal of Political Ideologies, ISSN 1356-9317, E-ISSN 1469-9613, Vol. 15, no 3, 227-239 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The premise of this paper is that 'civil society' is a concept that is powerful precisely because it is always normatively and ideologically loaded and never politically innocent. The paper begins by laying bare the extent to which the central notions that inform the promotion of the 'non-profit sector' as well as the critique of the (welfare) state are ideologically embedded in an Anglo-American theoretical narrative, one which links civil society to unselfish, altruistic and communitarian virtues. Using Sweden's particular historical experience as an empirical case, the paper then puts forth an alternative, 'neo-Hegelian' theory of state–civil society relations, according to which civil society is first and foremost conceived of as the arena in which individuals and groups seek to advance particular political and private interests, to satisfy needs and desires and to realize hopes and ambitions. It pictures state–civil society as a dynamic, interactive and productive process, rather than as a counterproductive zero-sum game. The paper ends by making a few additional theoretical reflections based on the analysis of the Swedish case, fleshing out this account of the neo-Hegelian theory of state–civil society relations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 15, no 3, 227-239 p.
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:esh:diva-3861DOI: 10.1080/13569317.2010.513853OAI: oai:DiVA.org:esh-3861DiVA: diva2:719337
Available from: 2014-05-23 Created: 2014-05-23 Last updated: 2015-01-19Bibliographically approved

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