Resistance is Utile : a study of civil society organizing for public service regarding the Occupation of Sollefteå Hospital

University essay from SLU/Dept. of Urban and Rural Development

Abstract: The declining access to public service is a concern for most rural areas in Sweden. This study aims to understand how civil society organize in order to maintain public service with the example of the occupation of Sollefteå Hospital. The protest opposes the closure of acute health care wards, most notably the maternity ward. I examine how the resistance is an expression of conflicting descriptions of reality. The neolib-eral discourse within the medical field constructs a logic, where highly centralised, cost-effective health care is the most rational and where efficiency is estimated on explicit and measurable goals. With the Foucauldian concepts of discourse, biopower and governmentality, I argue that within this discourse the identity of the citizens that are to be governed and disciplined is constructed. Thereto the responsibility for ac-cessing health care is put on the individual. For the expecting rural mothers this takes form in self-regulating injunctions, such taking classes in car-births or simply leaving the rural area, during late pregnancy or for good. By organizing resistance, the civil society is condemning the rational of the discourse as well as it’s depicting of them-selves and the rural which is perceived as a place of lack of modernity and economic hardship. This thesis suggests that by framing their actions and creating a collective identity based on the cultural heritage of ‘Red Ådalen’; a shared memory and previ-ous forms of resistance are used as a tool to regain access to health care. The findings also suggest that the usage of cooperative strategies and a repertoire connected to the cultural heritage of ‘Red Ådalen’, has gained recognition and legitimacy from the public, although being a subversive and by principle an illegal action.

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