Paper short abstract:
This ethnographic research focuses on Sweden's pension system, a policy here seen as an ongoing transformational process in contemporary welfare society, in which extended agency is given to market forces and in which two paramount ideas – general welfare and economic rationality – meet in combat.
Paper long abstract:
This Ph.D-thesis examines what notions of a general human economic rationality might be embedded in the transformation of the Swedish pension system, and how such notions are produced and spread in society.
The starting point is that economic principals of market logic during the past couple of decades have spread, not only to other geographical spheres, but also to encompass more spheres and levels of society. Such logics, thus, has come to influence larger parts of more individuals daily lives. In an attempt to understand how such a diffusion process comes to be, this research focuses on Sweden's new pension system. This policy is seen here as one example of a transformational process in society, with extended agency to market forces and in which two paramount ideas - general welfare and economic rationality - meet in combat.
The ethnographic fieldwork of this study is completed and was divided into three subfields, where each one represents key sites in the process of societal transformation, namely the production of policy, the distribution of policy and the reception of policy.
During the year plus long fieldwork semi-structured interviews with members, elected politicians and their chosen experts, of the parliamentary committee that invented the pension system were conducted - the producers. Participant observation and interviews were the choice methods at the headquarters of the two government authorities in charge of administrating the pension system - the distributors. And a collection of reactions and thoughts on the pension system were collected from "ordinary Swedes" during a road trip across the country - the receivers.
This Ph.D dissertation is planned to be ready to be defended by December of 2007.