Neoliberal Steering in Swedish Integration Policy: The Rise and Fall of Introduction Guides

Gustav Lidén, Jon Nyhlén, Sara Nyhlén



In the past decades, many policy sectors within European countries have encountered political reforms of neoliberal character. One of the key shifts has been the reorientation of public employment services that has been enforced, for example, through the establishment of what have been denoted as quasi-markets. Simultaneously with the rise of quasi-markets, welfare policy as a whole, including integration policy, has beenincreasingly oriented toward “activation”, with its focus on the individual’s obligationsand duties in relation to welfare services. These circumstances pose particular challenges to those charged with the governance of welfare services due to increasingly complex requirements for collaboration and control involving a multitude of actors. The reform is an example of a hybrid system where for- and non-profit actors compete for the“customer”, in this case, the newly arrived immigrant. This article focuses on the changes in Swedish integration reform as an archetype of these changes and studies a clearly defined case study. Empirically, this study draws from both documents and interviews. The article illustrates an unregulated and ill-monitored policy containing a model that comprises mixed modes of steering. The governance of the reform bears traits from both centralist and cooperative forms of governance and, thereby, involves competing philosophies of steering.


Key words: quasi-markets, integration policy, private, public, governance

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Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration

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

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