Den huvudlösa idén: Medborgarlön, välfärdspolitik och en blockerad debatt

Per Janson

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


Basic income - an income granted by the government to each full member of society without means tests or work requirements - has been a widely discussed subject among academics in recent years. However, basic income has not, in most cases, reached the formal political agenda. The main aim of this book is to discuss why this is the case, with Sweden as the focus of the discussion. The aim is also to survey and discuss arguments in favour of and against basic income. On a general theoretical level the discussion deals with the question of which policy proposals reach the formal political agenda. A first obvious reason for not making it onto the agenda is that a policy proposal is bad. A policy proposal is good if it is normatively justified and empirically possible. Even if a policy proposal is good it does not mean that the proposal should be implemented; but it prescribes that it should be taken seriously in the political debate, or in other words that it deserves its place on the formal political agenda. A second reason is that there are groups in society with strong power resources that oppose changes or that those in favour of change have weak power resources. A third reason is that the policy proposal is not linked to an established political problem. A fourth and final reason is that the proposal does not fit in a political possibility frame. The political possibility frame is determined by the main aims of the present policy. A policy proposal that does not fit within the political possibility frame can be blocked out of the political debate. None of the explanations exclude each other. When discussing the normative and empirical arguments in favour of and against basic income it is clear that are some serious criticism against the idea, but none of them can be said to dismiss basic income as a bad policy proposal. It appears then that the reason why basic income is not on the formal political agenda cannot be explained by the fact that it is a bad policy proposal. There are also few signs of actors using their power to try to stop the proposal. However, most actors that support basic income have weak power resources and this explanation cannot be completely ignored. One more significant explanation is that basic income has not been tied to an accepted political problem. But, the most apparent explanation is that basic income is blocked in the political debate. Basic income clearly breaks with the policy core and most reactions against basic income in the Swedish public debate are structured from the existing policy. Those who argue against basic income rarely discuss the pros and cons of the proposal. Instead, without further discussion the opponents merely state that it is a bad proposal. The same pattern can be seen in other national public debates.
Original languageSwedish
Awarding Institution
  • Department of Political Science
  • [unknown], [unknown], Supervisor, External person
Award date2003 Apr 25
ISBN (Print)91-7924-16-11
Publication statusPublished - 2003

Bibliographical note

Defence details
Date: 2003-04-25
Time: 10:15
Place: Edens Hörsal, 1:a våningen, Statsvetenskapliga institutionen
External reviewer(s)
Name: Dahlkvist, Mats
Title: [unknown]
Affiliation: [unknown]

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Political Science

Free keywords

  • agenda-setting
  • Political and administrative sciences

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