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

  • Torbjörn Hjort
  • Alexandru Panican
Keywords: citizenship, deregulation, freedom of choice, education, welfare services

Abstract

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 agency-based. 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.

Author Biographies

Torbjörn Hjort

Torbjörn Hjort (Associate Professor)

School of Social Work

Box 117

Lund University

221 00 Sweden

Alexandru Panican

Alexandru Panican (Ph D)

School of Social Work

Box 117

Lund University

221 00 Sweden

Published
2014-06-22
How to Cite
Hjort, T., & Panican, A. (2014). Navigating the market of welfare services: The choice of upper secondary school in Sweden. Nordic Journal of Social Research, 5. https://doi.org/10.7577/njsr.2075
Section
Articles