University of Bergen / Stein Rokkan Centre

The research activities of this research environment are coordinated from the Stein Rokkan Centre for Social Studies, the Rokkan Centre for short, established on 1st January 2002. The centre is affiliated to the University of Bergen via the research organisation UNIFOB AS. The centre embraces research groups and research programmes from a broad field of social and cultural concerns. Research projects address themes like democracy and politics, welfare and health care, health economics, management and organisational studies, culture, and technology and labour studies. The research is financed primarily by the Norwegian Research Council, the EU and public agencies. The Rokkan Centre employs between 60 and 70 researchers.

Over the last years several research projects at the Rokkan Centre has dealt with the historical and normative foundations of the welfare state: social justice and rights, workfare traditions in Norwegian and European welfare policy, the normative foundation of social law and of the Nordic welfare states. This research explores the origin, motivation and legitimization of important principles such as state responsibility for welfare, universalism, full employment and the duty to work. An important question in this respect is in which ways these (historically grounded) principles influence contemporary debates and welfare reforms. Normative aspects of welfare has also been the focus of attention in an international research project involving the Rokkan Centre and IIASA, “Governance and Fairness“, in the EU-based COST-programme “Reforming Social Protection Systems in Europe” and in the recently ended project “Policy discourses, international actors and national welfare policies“. Currently, the ongoing projects ‘The Reflexive Space of Law‘ (focusing on the use of different kinds of individual plans in Norwegian social/health policy and education) and ‘The Policy Ideas and Practice of Active ageing: Political, Economical and Cultural Challenges in Europe‘ are involving several researchers at the Rokkan Centre.

At the Department of History, a number of researchers have for years been working on the historical development of the Norwegian welfare state. This work includes general historical accounts and more detailed studies in topics such as working life, family policy and child welfare. The department has a strong tradition for participation in Nordic research units.

Theme Group 4: ‘The Value Systems and Legitimacy in the Nordic Welfare State Model’ is coordinated from the Rokkan centre.

Contact: Nanna Kildal, email: Nanna.Kildal(at)

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