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Research projects

The legitimacy of the welfare state - New mechanisms of trust in a hollow state development?

About this project

Project information

Project status

In progress


Monika Berg

Research subject

This research project aims to address how recent welfare state reforms in Sweden affect the mechanisms of trust building in government institutions. One of the most evident trends in the transformation of the organization of the welfare state in Sweden and other ”social democratic” types of welfare systems is the contracting out of public services – a phenomenon that has been labeled as the “hollowing out” of the state (Milward & Provan 2000). Sweden is historically renowned for its ambitious welfare model, relying mainly on in-house public production and delivery (Esping-Andersen 1990). This model has been argued to have contributed to high social capital and a state apparatus that is perceived as legitimate by its citizens. At the aggregate level, it could be argued that the organization of welfare in Sweden has not changed significantly. A type of ambitious universal, collective welfare state is still in place. However, beneath the surface, private firms (the market) have become central actors in delivering services and welfare to citizens. The current situation of a less clear boundary between the state and the market in the organization of public services is likely to affect how trust in public institutions is build, restored and potentially damaged. By analyzing cases of private and public provision in two different welfare policy areas, the project will explore perceptions of welfare service interaction in different contexts and how those perceptions seem to affect general perceptions of government.