Constraining institutions, committed employees: Unpacking the procedural legitimacy of welfare institutions in Sweden and Denmark

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To sustain a welfare state requires a high level of institutional legitimacy among citizens. Survey researchers have effectively investigated the legitimacy of both institutional goals and the distribution of benefits and burdens associated with these institutions. However, the legitimacy of institutional procedures remains largely unresearched. This paper contributes in this area by investigating citizens’ perceptions of the delivery of welfare services and benefits in Sweden and Denmark within a large qualitative interview study. The study investigates citizens’ evaluations of the equity and quality of institutional procedures and the competence, commitment, and fairness of employees. Evaluations of primary schools, health care and cash benefit services for unemployed are compared. Findings show generally a much higher trust in employees than confidence in institutional procedures and more confidence in universal welfare institutions than insurance and means tested. Administrative procedures and policy reforms associated with New Public Management are generally seen as detrimental to institutional equity, quality, and goal attainment, whereas employee competence and commitment is seen as safeguarding institutional goals in the face of reform.

TidsskriftEuropean Societies
Udgave nummer2
Sider (fra-til)236-256
Antal sider21
StatusUdgivet - 2018
Udgivet eksterntJa

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