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Retrenchments and political alienation - the case of Sweden

Maria Oskarson
University of Gothenburg
Maria Oskarson
University of Gothenburg
Open Panel

Abstract

Globalization, economic crisis and recent developments of welfare policies have been claimed to give rise to new cleavages between ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ in terms of social risk positions and also in in political engagement and trust (Kriesi, 2006), Solt, 2008). I argue in the proposed paper that in order to fully comprehend the political marginalization of more risk-exposed groups we need to simultaneously incorporate both the interest dimension and the trust dimension of people’s relation to politics, and make qualitative distinctions between ‘alienated’, ‘cynics’ loyals and ‘integrated’ citizens. We know from numerous previous studies what individual traits is associated with low political engagement and involvement, but we know less on what explains changes in these associations and thus creates or deepens the cleavages. This proposed paper investigates the relationsship between a social risk position and political alienation over 25 years (1986-2010) in Sweden, a country often characterized as a generous and encompassing welfare state with low inequality, but with increasing social and economic cleavages in later decades. The central hypothesis for the paper is that the strength of the linkage between social and political marginalization is dependent on how the polity responds to expectations on welfare policies and economic policies incorporated in the national ‘moral economy’(Oskarson, 2007). By a longitudinal analysis of the relationship between social risk position and political alienation in Sweden 1986-2010 we will be able to shed new light on the mechanisms at work. The analysis is based on the annual SOM-surveys directed to Swedish residents.