Nordic civic society organisations and the future of welfare services

A model for Europe?

image of Nordic civic society organisations and the future of welfare services

When well functioning national welfare states are put under pressure, also the tasks of civic society and citizens’ mutual responsibility are being re-defined. Hence, the significance of the civic society organisations in one of the most successful and stable circumstances of welfare states - in Northern Europe - is of great interest. This publication gives a first comprehensive overview of existing research on civic society organisations in the area of welfare services in the five Nordic countries. Besides a comparative Nordic analysis, focussed national contributions are provided. Finally, leading European researchers connect the Nordic debate in to a stimulating European context. How far are the Nordic welfare traditions still of significance, since all welfare states are similarly challenged by the global market economy? Can welfare organisations provide opportunities even for the most vulnerable groups to achieve full citizenship?




The area between state, market and private households has been given many names and much attention during the last fifteen years in most postindustrial societies. Whether we call it voluntary sector, intermediating area, third sector, civic society organisations or non-profit-organisations, this field has become a promising object of various expectations. For example, in most of the contemporary late-industrial societies, strong concern about the future of welfare services and growing awareness about the weakening of traditional democratic structures have emerged side by side. In the political discourse, solutions for these troubles are increasingly hoped to be found in non-profit-organisations and active citizenship.


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