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Trust, Social Capital and the Scandinavian Welfare State

Explaining the Flight of the Bumblebee Gunnar Lind Haase Svendsen, Professor of Rural Sociology, University of Southern Denmark and Gert Tinggaard Svendsen, Professor of Comparative Politics, Aarhus University, Denmark
Denmark exemplifies the puzzle of socio-economic success in Scandinavia. Populations are thriving despite the world’s highest levels of tax and generous social benefits. Denmark would appear to be a land of paradise for free-riders and those who want ‘money for nothing’. However, the national personality is characterized both by cooperation in everyday life and the numerous ‘hard-riders’ who make extraordinary contributions. Applying Bourdieuconomics, the authors focus on contemporary case studies to explain how social capital and trust are used to counteract free-riding and enable the flight of the Scandinavian welfare state ‘bumblebee’.
Extent: 168 pp
Hardback Price: $99.95 Web: $89.95
Publication Date: 2016
ISBN: 978 1 84844 064 7
Availability: In Stock
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  • Economics and Finance
  • Evolutionary Economics
  • Public Choice Theory
  • Politics and Public Policy
  • Public Choice
  • Public Policy
  • Social Policy and Sociology
  • Comparative Social Policy
  • Sociology and Sociological Theory
  • Welfare States
Denmark exemplifies the puzzle of socio-economic success in Scandinavia. Populations are thriving despite the world’s highest levels of tax, generous social benefits and scarce natural resources. It would appear to be a land of paradise for free-riders and those who want ‘money for nothing’. However, the national personality is characterized both by cooperation in everyday life and the numerous ‘hard-riders’ who make extraordinary contributions. Applying Bourdieuconomics, the authors focus on contemporary case studies to explain how social capital and trust are used to counteract free-riding and enable the flight of the Scandinavian welfare state ‘bumblebee’.

Insightful and interdisciplinary, the authors’ approach offers qualitative case studies which explore trust, social capital and wealth in the Scandinavian welfare state. Key to the topic is the authors’ discussion of free-riders versus ‘hard-riders’ as well as civic engagement in the welfare state. The application of Bourdieuconomics, a new theoretical approach, to a range of examples using economics, sociology, anthropology and history, will make this highly cross-disciplinary book accessible to a broad group of readers.

This unique work will be of great value to researchers, students, policy makers and all of those who are interested in the fundamental question of how economies work, specifically how people build, exchange and convert tangible as well as intangible forms of capital.
‘The authors explain the theories and concepts both clearly and concisely, resulting in an easily digestible and readable book for social scientists and non‐social scientists alike. Not only does this book add to the existing literature on social capital, it takes a broad view of economic phenomena which ultimately provides important insights for both citizens and policy makers. In doing so, Svendsen and Svendsen reveal just why the Scandinavian welfare state is so successful despite its structure contradicting conventional neoclassical economic theory.’
– Naveed Hakeem, Wiley

‘The apparent success of the Scandinavian countries has often
been debated in various academic, political and socioeconomic
contexts. . . .This well-written and recommendable book by Gunnar
Lind Haase Svendsen and Gert Tinggaard Svendsen significantly
adds to this debate by investigating the role of social capital and trust in various practical cases in Denmark’
– Carsten Jahn Hansen, Regional Studies

‘This book is a powerful and incisive contribution to the debates on social capital, trust and the welfare state. The reader will find an informed, insightful explanation of how the Scandinavian welfare state has been largely able to escape its inherent social dilemma: how generous social provisions have not been accompanied by widespread free-riding. The answer lies, according to the authors, in social capital and trust. The authors not only offer a compelling argument about the inner workings of how the Scandinavian welfare state functions, but also an original theoretical approach – Bourdieuconomics – to the study of the forms of capital in general and of social capital in particular. This is social science research at its best.’
– Francisco Herreros, Spanish National Research Council

‘This is a really worthwhile book because it takes a broad view of economics, it offers informative case studies, and it draws significant conclusions.’
– Citizen’s Income
Contents: 1. Introduction 2. Bourdieuconomics 3. Civil Society: The Use of Social Capital in Two Local Communities 4. Civil Society: Multifunctional Centers as Facilitators of the Use of Social Capital 5. Public Sector: Libraries as Facilitators of the Use of Social Capital 6. Private Sector: Using Social Capital in Firms 7. Conclusion Index