Politics and Bureaucracy in the Norwegian Welfare State

An Anthropological Approach

  • Halvard Vike

Part of the Approaches to Social Inequality and Difference book series (ATSIAD)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-vii
  2. Halvard Vike
    Pages 51-68
  3. Halvard Vike
    Pages 91-110
  4. Halvard Vike
    Pages 177-182
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 183-188

About this book


The book aims to explain the emergence of the Norwegian—and to some extent, the Scandinavian—welfare state in historical and anthropological terms. Halvard Vike argues that particular forms of political grassroots mobilization contributed heavily to what he calls “a low level of gravity state”—a political order in which decentralized institutions make it possible to curtail centralizing forces. While there is a large international literature on the Nordic welfare states, there is limited knowledge about how these states are embedded in local contexts. Vike's approach is based on an ethnographic practice which may be labeled “in and out of institutions.” It is based on ethnographic work in municipal assemblies, local bureaucracies, political parties, voluntary organizations, and various informal contexts.


Norwegian welfare state Norwegian politics Political centralization Norwegian democracy Welfare state universalism Political modernization Welfare municipality Norwegian bureaucracy New Public Management Personal autonomy Nordic welfare states

Authors and affiliations

  • Halvard Vike
    • 1
  1. 1.University College of Southeast NorwayPorsgrunnNorway

Bibliographic information