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The Changing Meanings of the Welfare State: Histories of a Key Concept in the Nordic Countries

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The Changing Meanings of the Welfare State

Histories of a Key Concept in the Nordic Countries

Edited by Nils Edling

352 pages, 19 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78920-124-6 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (January 2019)

eISBN 978-1-78920-125-3 eBook

Hb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook! $34.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“This is a book many have been waiting for, not least researchers who have been concerned with the history, development and status of the welfare state…This is a very important and interesting book that provides a lot of new knowledge of the history of the concept of the welfare state. It is a book that we have missed in the international research literature, and it will undoubtedly be a standard reference in and far beyond the Nordic countries for anyone interested in studying or disseminating knowledge about the welfare state.” • Tiddskrift for Velferdsforskning (Journal of Welfare Research)

The Changing Meanings of the Welfare State fills an important gap in the social policy language literature of recent years. It makes for enjoyable and informative reading.” • Sven Hort, Linnaeus University

“With its impressive conceptual and thematic coherence, this book will become an excellent ‘encyclopedic’ contribution to the field.” • Johannes Lindvall, Lund University


In discussions of economics, governance, and society in the Nordic countries, “the welfare state” is a well-worn analytical concept. However, there has been much less scholarly energy devoted to historicizing this idea beyond its postwar emergence. In this volume, specialists from Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Iceland chronicle the historical trajectory of “the welfare state,” tracing the variable ways in which it has been interpreted, valued, and challenged over time. Each case study generates valuable historical insights into not only the history of Northern Europe, but also the welfare state itself as both a phenomenon and a concept.

Nils Edling is a lecturer and researcher in the History department at Stockholm University. His current research is on the conceptual history of the Swedish welfare state. He has previously studied the emergence of unemployment as a social problem in Denmark, Norway and Sweden and he has been active in different Nordic welfare history research networks since the 1990s.

Subject: Economic History 20th Century History Political Economy
Area: Northern Europe


List of Figures

Nils Edling

Chapter 1. Multiple Welfare States – Histories of a Keyword                                            
Nils Edling

Chapter 2. The Languages of Welfare in Sweden
Nils Edling

Chapter 3. The Concept of ‘Welfare State’ in Danish Public and Political Debates|
Jørn Henrik Petersen and Klaus Petersen

Chapter 4. The Winding Road of the Norwegian ‘Welfare State’
Per Haave

Chapter 5. The Conceptual History of Welfare State in Finland
Pauli Kettunen

Chapter 6. The Evolving Concept of the Welfare State in Icelandic Politics
Guðmundur Jónsson

Nils Edling


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