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State and Civil Society in Northern Europe

State and Civil Society in Northern Europe

Lars Trägårdh


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In the current neo-liberal political and economic climate, it is often suggested that a large and strong state stands in opposition to an autonomous and vibrant civil society. However, the simultaneous presence in Sweden of both a famously large public sector and an unusually vital civil society poses an interesting and important theoretical challenge to these views with serious political and policy implications. Studies show that in a comparative context Sweden scores very highly when it comes to the strength and vitality of its civil society as well as social capital, as measured in terms of trust, lack of corruption, and membership of voluntary associations. The “Swedish Model,” therefore, offers important insights into the dynamics of state and civil society relations, which go against current trends of undermining the importance of the welfare state, and presents autonomous civic participation as the only way forward.

Lars Trägårdh received his Ph D in history from UC Berkeley and currently co-directs a research project concerning trust and state/civil society relations in Sweden at the Research Institute of Ersta Sköndal University College in Stockholm. His most recent publications include (with co-editor Nina Witoszek) Culture and Crisis: The Case of Germany and Sweden (Berghahn Books, 2002), After National Democracy: Rights, Law and Power in America in the New Europe (Hart Publishing, 2004), and with Henrik Berggren Är svensken människa: Oberoende och gemenskap i det moderna Sverige (Norstedts, 2006).

“This book will surely be of interest not only to students in the field of comparative politics and comparative welfare regimes, but mor broadly to analysts of the complex relationship between civil society and the state.”   ·  American Journal of Sociology

“The book also provides a good overview of the historical influences that have shaped the current Swedish civil society, and offers insight into future challenges and opportunities. Rich in theoretical references, it is an essential resource in comparative studies of civil societies.”   ·  Voluntas

“Lars Trägårdh’s fascinating account of the Swedish model is an innovative addition to the body of scholarship on the relationship between state and civil society. The richness of the volume lies in its detailed theoretical discussion as well as extensive empirical insights on the interaction between state and civil society. The book invites the reader to be critical, reflective, and inquisitive in comprehending state–civil society interaction. This is an important book that carries the potential to attract a wide range of scholars in development studies in the social sciences and humanities…Written with sensitivity and scholarly perspicacity, the book has come on the scene at an appropriate time, especially when the issues of liberalization, privatization, globalization, participation, localization, and decentralization play a central role in influencing the contemporary political tradition of different nations.”  ·  Quarterly Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Series Page ii
Title Page iii
Copyright Page iv
Table of Contents v
List of Tables and Figures vii
Contributors ix
Acknowledgements xi
Editors' Preface xii
Introduction 1
Chapter 1. The \"Civil Society\" Debate in Sweden 9
Chapter 2. Civil Society and Globalization 37
Chapter 3. Voluntary Association Involvement in Comparitive Perspective 67
Chapter 4. Civic Participation in A Scandinavian Welfare State 126
Chapter 5. Associational Life, Youth, and Political Capital Formation in Sweden 165
Chapter 6. More Centralization, Less Democracy 205
Chapter 7. The State and Civil Society in a Historical Perspective 229
Chapter 8. Democratic Governance and the Creation of Social Capital in Sweden 254
Index 271