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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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3. The Swedish Model in Transition: Trade Unions and Racialised Workers (Anders Neergaard)


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Anders Neergaard

3. The Swedish Model in Transition: Trade Unions and Racialised Workers

Abstract: The chapter analyses working class trade union policies and practices relating to migrants and racialised workers in Sweden in order to assess the capacity for action in an acute moment of crisis and transformation of the welfare state, the labour market and the country’s unique industrial relations system. The argument is that the Swedish blue collar trade union movement, facing the declining strength of an increasingly fragmented working class, is without any clear strategies of facing these challenges.


At the time of writing this chapter dramatic changes in the Swedish political landscape are occurring. Facing a large increase in refugees seeking asylum in Sweden the Social Democratic and Green party government has with support from three of the four established right-wing parties in opposition implemented exceptional reforms. The aim as formulated by the government is for a limited time to adapt the Swedish regulations to the EU minimum level, restricting and limiting access to apply for asylum, shifting from permanent to temporary residence permits for refugees, and significantly curtailed the possibilities for family reunification. Parallel to this, and partially using refugees as the reason, right-wing parties and the private employers association are actively arguing for creating low-paid employment with 75% of the accorded minimum wage of the collective agreements. The three smallest of the right-wing parties argue that this could be legislated against the...

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