Navigating the market of welfare services: The choice of upper secondary school in Sweden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Due to increased market orientation and deregulation, welfare
services in Sweden have taken on the form of market-based services.
The body of research on deregulation and privatization is quite
substantial regarding the implications of this kind of development.
However, studies of the actual process of how choices are made are
less common. This article discusses the implications of greater
freedom of choice for Swedish citizens in diverse socioeconomic
situations, focusing on factors that limit opportunities for choice.
Deregulation and the increasing number of alternatives affect the
relationship between the citizen and the welfare state in several ways.
The Swedish school system is used here as an example of an
empirical field. The analytical focus of the article consists of two
different kinds of restrictions on choice: structure-based and agencybased.
One conclusion is that both affluent and underprivileged
citizens have limited choices. Another conclusion is that social citizenship, when freedom of choice is stimulated, can reproduce and
even increase social and ethnic segregation. An additional potential
consequence is that, when we consider social rights in their tangible
form, the development of greater freedom of choice is focused
increasingly on the consumer’s range of choices and less on the
quality of the service offered.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Social Work


  • deregulation, market orientation, welfare services, Sweden, market-based services, privatization, freedom of choice, citizen, limit opportunities, underprivileged citizens, citizenship, rights, social rights, reproduce, social segregation, ethnic segregation, consumer, quality, school system
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-79
JournalNordic Journal of Social Research
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Publication categoryResearch

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