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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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5. Rationalities of Exclusionary Inclusion: Constructing Others while Combating Social Exclusion (Viktor Vesterberg)


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Viktor Vesterberg

5. Rationalities of Exclusionary Inclusion: Constructing Others while Combating Social Exclusion

Abstract: This chapter analyzes labour market projects targeting unemployed migrants in Sweden. The goal of these projects is to increase employability and generate social inclusion among the targeted populations. The results of the chapter reveal a rationality that constructs exclusion of the targeted groups as essential for working with social inclusion – a rationality of exclusionary inclusion.


The twin concepts of social exclusion and social inclusion are pivotal in the political discourse about the labour market and migrant-integration policies in the European Union (EU) as well as in Sweden (Schierup, Krifors and Slavnic 2015). In Swedish politics, the inclusion of migrants has, since 2010 when the Swedish Public Employment Service took responsibility for integration politics, been more tightly tied to participation in the labour market (Larsson 2015). From an EU perspective, social inclusion generally entails making citizens economically self-sufficient by preparing the populations for participation in the labour market (de la Porte and Jacobsson 2012). The European Commission’s recommendation (2008: 3) regarding the social inclusion of excluded people explicitly states that national inclusion strategies should ‘address the needs of people excluded from the labour market […] and enhance their employability’. Further, the Commission prescribes

[…] active and preventive labour market measures, including tailored, personalized, responsive services and support involving early identification of needs, job-search assistance, guidance and training, and motivation to seek a job actively (European...

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