User Choice – Blessing or Curse? Exploring Democratic Participation in Swedish and Norwegian Local Governments

Asbjørn Røiseland


Based in an analysis of elderly care and primary school, the article discusses and explores marketization and especially user choice as a type of democratic participation in Swedish and Norwegian local government. Empirical data include surveys among Swedish and Norwegian citizens and case studies in four municipalities. The analysis shows that having a choice regarding service delivery is considered a significant means of influencing policies among the citizens in the two countries. Comparing the two policy sectors leads to a conclusion that user choice is developing as a means of influence in both sectors, but most important in primary school, and more developed in Sweden compared to Norway. The case studies aim to explore and illustrate the reasoning about choice and democracy among local leaders. This analysis clearly illustrates how the conceptual relation between marketization and democracy varies to an almost extreme extent among local government leaders in Sweden and Norway.

Full Text: PDF

Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration

School of Public Administration, Box 712 - SE-405 30 Göteborg

ISSN: 2001-7405, E-ISSN: 2001-7413