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A pluralist state?: civil society organizations’ access to the Swedish policy process 1964-2009
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences, Örebro University, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0627-1245
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Including civil society organizations in the policy process is a distinctive trait of democratic governance. But, while being highly valuable from a democratic point of view, not all civil society organizations are represented in the policy process. This dissertation draws attention to the role of the government in shaping the representation of civil society organizations in the Swedish government consultation referred to as the ‘remiss procedure’. The overall aim is to increase empirical and theoretical understanding of civil society organizations’ access to the national Swedish policy process. Drawing on various empirical data sources, it analyzes how access has changed during the second half of the 20th century, the factors influencing access, and the significance of the access provided by the government.

The results are based on four empirical studies, and show that the government has encouraged an increasing number and more diverse types of civil society organizations to be represented in the remiss procedure. In addition, organizations with plenty of resources, such as labor and business organizations, are not overrepresented. However, access is slightly skewed in favor of civil society organizations with an insider position within other access points at national government level, which is consistent with a privileged pluralistic pattern of interest representation. In addition, civil society organizations seem to be invited into an arena for political influence of less relevance. Theoretically, the dissertation moves beyond the neo-corporatist perspective that dominated Swedish research during the second half of the 20th century by drawing attention to five different theoretical lenses: pluralism, neo-corporatism, political opportunity structures, policy network theory, and resource exchange theory. It concludes that a variety of theories are needed for access to be understood.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Örebro: Örebro universitet , 2014. , 90 p.
Series
Örebro Studies in Political Science, ISSN 1650-1632 ; 38
Keyword [en]
access, interest representation, civil society, neo-corporatism, pluralism, political opportunity structures, policy network, resource exchange, consultations, governmental commissions, remiss procedure, Sweden
National Category
Globalization Studies
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-38042ISBN: 978-91-7529-046-1 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-38042DiVA: diva2:758029
Public defence
2014-11-07, Hörsal P2, Prismahuset, Fakultetsgatan 1, Örebro, 10:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2014-10-24 Created: 2014-10-24 Last updated: 2016-12-16Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Changing balance: the participation and role of voluntary organisations in the Swedish policy process
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Changing balance: the participation and role of voluntary organisations in the Swedish policy process
2012 (English)In: Scandinavian Political Studies, ISSN 0080-6757, E-ISSN 1467-9477, Vol. 35, no 4, 347-371 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article focuses on the changing level of participation of voluntary organisations in the policy process between 1964 and 2009 and its implication for the role played by voluntary organisations to the state. Drawing on data from the remiss procedure – one of the most understudied parts of the Swedish policy-making process – the results implicate a reduced role for voluntary organisations in formal arenas for policy making. While the number of participating voluntary organisations has remained stable, the relative share of participating organisations has declined and an increasing proportion of organisations have abstained from participating. In addition, the shares of conflict-oriented and member-benefit-oriented organisations have decreased while consensus-oriented and public-benefit-oriented organisations appear to have increased slightly. These findings are discussed in the context of changes in the coordination and implementation of public policies, implying that over time the role of voluntary organisations as arenas for deliberation and mediators of individual interests tend to have gradually lost ground in relation to the state while the share of organisations taking direct welfare responsibility has slightly increased. Although it may be premature to speak about a shifting role of voluntary organisations from input to output in the political system, the result suggest an emerging trend in that direction. Further research is needed to clarify whether this changing pattern of participation is evident in other arenas for policy making in Sweden or is an isolated feature explained from the outset of the remiss procedure.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Wiley-Blackwell, 2012
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-24476 (URN)10.1111/j.1467-9477.2012.00292.x (DOI)000309593500004 ()2-s2.0-84867397514 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2012-08-16 Created: 2012-08-16 Last updated: 2016-04-11Bibliographically approved
2. Does the government selection process promote or hinder pluralism?: exploring the characteristics of voluntary organizations invited to public consultations
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Does the government selection process promote or hinder pluralism?: exploring the characteristics of voluntary organizations invited to public consultations
2013 (English)In: Journal of Civil Society, ISSN 1744-8689, E-ISSN 1744-8697, Vol. 9, no 1, 58-77 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

To what extent does the government selection process practised in public consultations promote or hinder pluralism in the policy-making process? This article addresses this question by exploring and analysing the characteristics of voluntary organizations invited to public consultations. Evidence is drawn from the formerly corporatist Scandinavian country of Sweden and the policy-making process referred to as the ‘remiss procedure’. The article shows that the government selection process encourages a multitude of organizations to participate. Consistent with recent studies on Scandinavian corporatism, this study provides weak support of corporatist practices in the Swedish policy process. However, and without challenging the seemingly pluralistic nature of the remiss procedure, voluntary organizations with ‘insider status’ in the policy process are more frequently invited to formal decision-making arenas such as the remiss procedure. It is argued that the policy network literature and the theory of political opportunity structures may further the understanding of the government selection process practised in public consultations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis: Taylor & Francis Group, 2013
National Category
Humanities
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-32553 (URN)10.1080/17448689.2013.771086 (DOI)
Available from: 2013-11-28 Created: 2013-11-28 Last updated: 2017-03-22Bibliographically approved
3. En försumbar arena?: Organisationerna och remissväsendet 1964-2009
Open this publication in new window or tab >>En försumbar arena?: Organisationerna och remissväsendet 1964-2009
2012 (Swedish)In: Statsvetenskaplig Tidskrift, ISSN 0039-0747, Vol. 114, no 1, 29-55 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article investigates how the participation of voluntary organisations in the remiss-procedure has changed between 1964 and 2009 and how to interpret this. Drawing on evidence from 33 remiss-directories in nine different policy fields, the results conclude that the proportional level of voluntary organisations has declined and more organisations have chosen to abstain from participating in the remissprocedure. In addition, the number of conflict-oriented organisations has declined while the number of consensus-oriented organisations active in the output side of the political system has increased. It is argued that the result can be understood in relation to the changing mode of governance, new challenges presented by the welfare state and the rise of transnational organisations that seek influence in less formal arenas for policy making.

Keyword
Civilsamhället, intresseorganisationer, remissväsendet, deltagande, policy, välfärdsstaten
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-23404 (URN)
Available from: 2012-06-12 Created: 2012-06-12 Last updated: 2016-05-18Bibliographically approved
4. Is Bureaucratic Policy-Making Eroding Institutions?: A Bottom-up Perspective on the Swedish Governmental Commissions
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Is Bureaucratic Policy-Making Eroding Institutions?: A Bottom-up Perspective on the Swedish Governmental Commissions
(English)In: International Journal of Public Administration, ISSN 0190-0692, E-ISSN 1532-4265Article in journal (Refereed) Accepted
Abstract [en]

This article analyzes the recurrent “erosion thesis” in the governance literature  arguing  that  bureaucratic  or  procedural government institutions have come to play a less significant role in the formation of  public  policy.  This  article  supports  these  claims  by  drawing evidence  from  the  Swedish  and  neo-corporatist  policy-making institutions  referred  to  as  the ‘governmental  commissions’  and  the perspective  of  interest  organizations.  Using  various  theories  on institutional change I show that increasing government steering has reduced  the  role  of  the  governmental  commissions  in  influencing policy, but has not eliminated interest organizations’ belief that they are  legitimate  institutions.  The  resulting  article concludes  that although the governmental commissions have eroded, the capability of the state to steer or govern society has not necessarily declined.

National Category
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-38225 (URN)
Available from: 2014-10-29 Created: 2014-10-29 Last updated: 2016-12-16Bibliographically approved

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