“They don’t fit in”: Homeless EU migrants, New Social Risks and the Mixed Economy of Welfare in Sweden
Abstract: Problem/ background: Since the enlargement of the EU in 2004 and the free mobility directive there has been growing concern of homelessness and destituteness among EU migrants in several European countries, Sweden being one of them. This is an important welfare and policy issue. Previous research on this matter has tended to focus on challenges faced by, as well as strategies adopted by, NGOs and social workers, while not really delving into the issue of challenges and coping strategies adopted by those in charge. In the Swedish context, it is therefore important to look at how Swedish municipalities are dealing with this issue to shed light on how policy makers are coping with the homeless EU migrants and how they are working with them. Objective: The point of this thesis is to discuss homeless EU migrants in Sweden using the theories of new social risks and the mixed economy of welfare. In doing so, I intend to examine how municipal representatives perceive and interpret the new social risks the migrants are facing and how to deal with these. I will also consider how the mixed economy of welfare plays a role in how Swedish municipalities’ are able to work with the migrants. Method: Semi-structured interviews with municipal representatives in the three chosen municipalities were conducted. Conclusion/ result: According to the interviews, the municipal representatives are experiencing several hurdles and challenges when it comes to working with homeless EU migrants. The homeless EU migrants are facing new social risks and are consequently posing a serious challenge to the Swedish welfare state. It is a problem that has been created elsewhere but that needs to be dealt with in Sweden; furthermore, the visibility of street beggars is challenging the idea of the social contract in Sweden. In order to provide any assistance to the migrants, municipalities have to cooperate with NGOs, making the role of the MEW extremely important.
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