Velfærdsstatens patologi

Martin Fog Arndal, Frode Kjær, Eskil Juul Elling, Kasper Milius Brandt & Tue Juncker-Løndal

Studenteropgave: Semesterprojekt


This project assesses the present condition of the Danish welfare state using the conceptual apparatus of Axel Honneth’s theory of recognition. On this basis, it derives a moral ideal from the frustrated expectations of recognition of recipients of social security and people employed in low wage jobs. In a second turn it seeks to validate this ideal on the basis of a sociological diagnosis of society. Firstly, the ideal implicit in modern society stems from what is termed the constitutive tension of the principles of law and achievement in the welfare state and requires both the increased sensitivity of rights to the fact that people cannot be held fully accountable for being unemployed and an intersubjective value horizon broad enough to give all members of society the opportunity to compete for social esteem. By contrasting Honneths approach to that of Nancy Fraser, it is concluded that a recognition theoretical analysis of the welfare state must comprise an analysis of the systemic development of modern capitalist society, in addition to its sociocultural evolution. Secondly, such an analysis is presented, focusing on the fact that contemporary society is characterized by a very limited access to the institutions wherein people strive for recognition, while self-realization has at the same time become an ever more important structural demand. Most significantly a shift has taken place in the mode of social esteem from the appreciation of long-term, not necessarily glamourous achievements of everyday work to the admiration of spectacular short-term results. As this culture excludes a large part of the work force, it is concluded that the ideal derived to begin with possesses a surplus of validity pointing towards an improvement of ethical life. Finally, two concrete initiatives with the potential to realize this ideal are discussed: The strengthening of labour unions and the introduction of a universal basic income.

UddannelserBasis - Humanistisk Bacheloruddannelse, (Bachelor uddannelse) Basis
Udgivelsesdato15 jun. 2015
VejledereSune Lægaard


  • pathology
  • recognition
  • welfare
  • Honneth