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The Experimental Welfare State

Carlsberg Foundation Monograph Fellowships

What

This is a book project about the Danish welfare state. It demonstrates the uniqueness of the Danish welfare state as an unintended outcome of hundreds of civil society associations which experimented to find workable solutions to the many social and economic problems Denmark was facing in the 19th century. In the second part of 20th century the social-democrats turned Denmark into a top-down-welfare state based upon universalism. In the 21st century we have seen a return to a more experimental welfare model. Voluntary associations, business and public institutions are testing new models of welfare services. We are back to the experimental welfare state. How will this shape welfare state and welfare society? Will voluntarism play a more significant role in the future?

Why

These new experiments might produce a new form of welfare state. It is of major importance that we discuss the character of the new welfare state? Do we create a welfare society with more choice but with less equality? Will the participation of businesses and civil society generate a more dynamic welfare society better responding to the needs of the citizens? The transformation of the welfare state is taking place at a rapid pace these years. We need to discuss the new experimental welfare state in which state, market, and civil society again are reorganizing and reconfiguring in new ways. Will it have negative or positive consequences for democracy, rechtstaat, and the quality of welfare services?

How

I have worked on several issues in relation to this project during the last 8 years. I have collected material, interviews and other source material and I will do some more interviews.

SSR

This project has a huge potential to initiate a broad societal debate - in Denmark as well as in Europe in general - about the future welfare state The project provides new ideas to a new division of labour between business, voluntary associations, and the public sector in terms of welfare services The project suggests that the transformation of the social democratic 'statist' welfare model towards a new 'mix' might have intended and unintended consequences - some positive and some negative The project contributes to a broad discussion about dangers and possibilities in relation to the decline of the social democratic welfare state and the emergence of a new experimental welfare state The project will point to the potential consequences for democracy, constitution, the rechtsstaat (retsstaten), equality in society, equality for the law, universal rights and obligation, social cohesion and solidarity.