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Reimagineering the Nation

Essays on Twenty-First-Century Sweden


Edited By Aleksandra Ålund, Carl-Ulrik Schierup and Anders Neergaard

This collection of essays offers a critical analysis of neoliberal transformation as it has unfolded in Sweden, long regarded as exemplary in terms of social welfare, equality and an inclusive multicultural democracy. The book presents a multidisciplinary exposition on Sweden, seen in a wider European perspective. It addresses changing frameworks of citizenship, welfare and democracy, migration and asylum, urban segregation and labour market segmentation and processes of securitization. It illuminates intersecting dimensions of class, gender and racialization and juxtaposes xenophobic populism with new social justice and antiracist movements on a changing political stage. Addressing a growing alignment with retrogressive illiberal policies across Europe, the volume exposes the reach of the adverse direction in which European «integration» is currently heading.

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2. How the Swedish Model Was (Almost) Lost. Migration, Welfare and Politics of Solidarity (Carl-Ulrik Schierup / Simone Scarpa)


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Carl-Ulrik Schierup & Simone Scarpa

2. How the Swedish Model Was (Almost) Lost. Migration, Welfare and the Politics of Solidarity

Abstract: This chapter analyses the shift from an expansive Swedish welfare state with full employment as its paramount priority to an austerity-driven neoliberal model subordinating social and employment policies to the goals of inflation control and debt reduction. The authors discuss implications of this for rising inequality and social exclusion, with a focus on the Swedish welfare state in general and immigration and integration policies in particular.

A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

‘Open your hearts!’ appealed former Premier, Fredrik Reinfeldt in a stirring speech to the Swedish people. He was kicking off his conservative party’s1 campaign before the parliamentary elections scheduled for September 2014. It was at a moment when an ever-growing flight from the Middle East via the Mediterranean was becoming a top political issue labelled ‘the EU’s refugee problem’.2 The premier pleaded passionately for solidarity in welcoming the wretched who had been expelled by wars, outrageous atrocities and complex emergencies from less fortunate parts of the world. Among this multitude fleeing violence, death and destruction, large numbers would, he anticipated, seek protection in Sweden during the coming years. They would eventually, like numerous refugees and other immigrants to Sweden before them, become integrated as fellow citizens, enter the labour market, continue to build the country and consolidate its cherished openness and freedoms. Yet, Reinfeldt earnestly appealed at the...

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