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Amanda Nielsen

School of Social Sciences, Linnaeus university

Contested hegemony: negotiating the demarcation and scope of the (national) welfare state

Throughout the last decades migration- and integration policy has arisen as a political field characterized by great disagreement in Sweden. The 2000s has seen extensive debates in relation to policy on asylum and labour migration as well as the rights conferred to irregular migrants. In my dissertation I take my point of departure in the empirically identified shift from (relative) consensus to conflict in this policy arena. More specifically, I depart from a discourse analytical perspective according to which recent conflicts are conceptualized as contestations of a previous hegemony. Hence, in the dissertatation contemporary disputes over migration policy are mapped in accordance with how they relate to a(n abandoned) consensus that prescribed relative closure in order to guarantee inclusion and equality in the national context.

The overall purpose of my dissertation is to investigate how the demarcation and scope of the welfare state are being negotiated in contemporary debates on migration policy in Sweden. The concept of negotiation is an attempt to capture the ongoing dispute over the balance between inclusion and exclusion in relation to the welfare state. Negotiation should thus be understood as discursive negotiation in which prevailing conceptions are challenged and possibly changed. My empirical starting point is minutes from parliamentary sessions throughout the 2000s which are complemented by reports and statements from key political actors, such as trade unions and NGO’s, outside of parliament.

See also: Amanda Nielsen’s homepage