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

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TY - JOUR

T1 - Navigating the market of welfare services: The choice of upper secondary school in Sweden

AU - Panican, Alexandru

AU - Hjort, Torbjörn

PY - 2014

Y1 - 2014

N2 - 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.

AB - 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.

KW - deregulation

KW - market orientation

KW - welfare services

KW - Sweden

KW - market-based services

KW - privatization

KW - freedom of choice

KW - citizen

KW - limit opportunities

KW - underprivileged citizens

KW - citizenship

KW - rights

KW - social rights

KW - reproduce

KW - social segregation

KW - ethnic segregation

KW - consumer

KW - quality

KW - school system

M3 - Article

VL - 5

SP - 55

EP - 79

JO - Nordic Journal of Social Research

T2 - Nordic Journal of Social Research

JF - Nordic Journal of Social Research

SN - 1892-2783

ER -