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The neoliberal turn and the marketization of care: the transformation of eldercare in Sweden
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1456-1207
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå Centre for Gender Studies (UCGS). Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2015 (English)In: The European Journal of Women's Studies, ISSN 1350-5068, E-ISSN 1461-7420, Vol. 22, no 3, 274-287 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The care for older and disabled people has been described as a core area of the Nordic model. The Nordic countries’ welfare model has also been described as women friendly, as women are not forced to make harder choices than men between work and family. The Swedish eldercare system has, during the last several decades, undergone significant changes. Previously, eldercare could be described as universal, meaning a publicly provided, comprehensive, high-quality service available to all citizens according to need and not based on the ability to pay. In later years transformation of eldercare has been influenced by neoliberal politics, which emphasize economic efficiency and cost reduction through competition. Eldercare has become a more diverse multidimensional system, and a private market for home-based eldercare has been created. The numbers of eldercare providers have increased considerably, and new ways of organizing eldercare have been established. In January 2009, the Act on System of Choice in the Public Sector was introduced (in Swedish: Lagen om valfrihetssystem [LOV]). The Act was supposed to provide an opportunity for interested municipalities and county councils to expose their publicly provided services to market competition, and to enable users to choose their providers. This article aims to illustrate how neoliberal reasoning dominated the policy process leading to adoption of the Act on System of Choice in the Public Sector. With the use of a discursive policy analysis the authors specifically explore how neoliberal logic dominated, and also how choice and equality were understood and interpreted in the policy process. They conclude that the neoliberal turn in eldercare claiming to centre on the individual choice of persons in need of care runs the risk of creating unequal care that decentres the eldercare worker and creates precarious work situations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2015. Vol. 22, no 3, 274-287 p.
Keyword [en]
choice, eldercare, equality, gender, neoliberalism, Sweden, welfare state
National Category
Gender Studies
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-91697DOI: 10.1177/1350506814544912ISI: 000358526400002OAI: diva2:737771
Available from: 2014-08-14 Created: 2014-08-14 Last updated: 2015-11-26Bibliographically approved

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Andersson, KatarinaKvist, Elin
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Department of Social WorkUmeå Centre for Gender Studies (UCGS)Department of Sociology
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