Universal Welfare State at Stake? The Changing Political Discourse Regarding Inclusive Welfare for Refugees in Sweden
Abstract: Sweden has for a long time distinguished itself as a major player among few other generous and inclusive welfare states. The Swedish welfare system is characterised by the universal principles based on the idea that all legitimate inhabitants are eligible for welfare support in order to promote overall solidarity among citizens. This generous position changed rapidly in 2015 when there was a peak in asylum seekers. Temporary residence permits and identity checks along the border were implemented with a short notice. This thesis sets out to examine how official political discourse in Sweden pertaining to its inclusive welfare system in regard to refugees has changed significantly between 2015 and 2016. To achieve this aim, the study critically analyses political speeches by Stefan Löfven and Anna Kinberg Batra who are the party leaders of the two most influential mainstream parties in Sweden, namely the Social Democrats and Moderaterna. By conducting a documentary analysis using the analytical strategy of critical discourse analysis, political speeches can be studied. The theoretical framework builds upon the concepts of welfare chauvinism the theory as a frame for how mainstream parties relate to the issues such as having an inclusive immigration policy and granting the same welfare entitlements to immigrants. The concepts of the critical discourse analysis such as micro- and macro levels are also used in order to trace various layers in the changing discourses. The results of the study reveal that there have been fluctuations in the value words of the Swedish society in the official discourse regarding inclusive welfare for refugees. It becomes evident that the Social Democrats and Moderaterna to some extent adapt welfare chauvinistic claims, it is not that apparent in their speeches as it is in the implemented laws and regulations.
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