A tentative historicalpolicy analysis is developed to generate knowledge about local government policies and political legitimacy, as well as to contribute to policy analysis methodology. Social indicators, institutions and actors are used to gain knowledge about the phenomena. What local governments do to deal with and try to solve local problems is assumed to contribute to political legitimacy. The basic question that structures the thesis is to investigate whether, and to what extent, problem-orientated and "problem-effective" local government policy can contribute to political legitimacy.
Time-series analysis shows that social malaise problems (poverty and unemployment) have fluctuated over the last 120 years, increasing in some periods and/or communities and decreasing in others. In contrast, problems concerning health and the environment decreased over the same period.
Social policies appear to be closely related to local problems during the first hundred years (i.e. from 1874-1970), which indicates that local government policy is problem-orientated. After 1970 the connection between problems and social policy starts to loosen up. During the 1980s local infrastructure and industrial policy begin, for the first time, to follow social malaise problems in the municipalities. Earlier, infrastructure policy grew when problems were small or decreasing.
The analysis indicates that municipalities were generally more successful in coping with local problems a hundred years ago. Health policies appear to have contributed towards solving local health problems up until 1970. Social malaise policies, on the other hand, have not directly contributed to solving local problems. Indirecdy, however, the latter type of policies contributed to economic development and promoted the development of local industry during the first hundred years. After 1970, only certain aspects of social malaise policies show positive effects on local problems. Instead, these policies generally seem to have exacerbated local problems. Attempts to resolve social problems, together with social service delivery, turn out to become part of the problem.
The interpretation that legitimacy can be reached through problem-orientated and problem-effective policies has some empirical support in the period prior to 1900 and today. However, under predemocratic regimes, as well as during periods when democracy was highly centralized, the support for, and trust in, legality seems to be the dominate source of political legitimacy.
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 1997. , 307 p.
political legitimacy, local problems, problem-orientated, problem-effective, local government policy