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The Politics of Welfare Policy in Sweden: Structural Determinants and Attitudinal Cleavages

Stefan Svallfors
The British Journal of Sociology
Vol. 42, No. 4 (Dec., 1991), pp. 609-634
DOI: 10.2307/591450
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/591450
Page Count: 26
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The Politics of Welfare Policy in Sweden: Structural Determinants and Attitudinal Cleavages
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Abstract

The article analyzes attitudes to Swedish welfare policies, using data from a survey conducted in 1986. In the first section, a number of indices tapping various aspects of attitudes to welfare policy are constructed. In the second section these indices are used to give an empirical assessment of competing theories about the impact of different structural determinants on attitudes. It is concluded (a) that there is general support for Swedish welfare policies, which, however, is mixed with criticisms of bureaucracy and suspicion about abuse of welfare programs, and (b) that class position and 'class-related' determinants such as income are more important than factors such as gender, private or public sector location or consumption groups in structuring attitudes. In the concluding section, these findings are discussed in relation to recent theorizing about newly emerging lines of division in the population. It is argued that either Sweden must be seen as a deviant case, which for specific historical and institutional reasons is characterized by class conflicts rather than other sectional splits, or the theories about new lines of division are simply mistaken.

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