From Government Office to Private PR: Career Patterns of Special Ministerial Advisers and the Privatization of Politics

Mark Ørsten*, Eva Mayerhöffer, Ida Willig

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


This article presents a study on special ministerial advisers examining their careers beyond their role in the machinery of government. Applying a theoretical framework derived from the literature on the sociology of work and the transformation of the organization of politics in the Nordic welfare states, we make two theoretical points. First, special advisers are part of an emerging group of partisan policy professionals, and second, the characteristics of this group are best analyzed through the lens of the boundaryless career. By combining these two positions, we contribute to studies on special advisers by offering a longer career perspective, and we contribute to studies on the boundaryless career by analyzing a job market other than the dot-com and cultural industries. Mapping the entire career paths of all Danish special ministerial advisers from 2000 to 2017 (n = 144), we show that the position of special adviser serves as a stepping-stone to a new labor market that typically culminates with a position in private public relations. This conclusion lends fresh support to concerns about the privatization of politics changing policy formation in the Nordic welfare states.
Translated title of the contributionFra Politik til PR
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe International Journal of Press/Politics
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)301-319
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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