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Palgrave Macmillan

Politics and Bureaucracy in the Norwegian Welfare State

An Anthropological Approach

  • Book
  • © 2018


  • Integrates historical perspectives with classical anthropological treatments of political power and conflict
  • Offers original anthropological takes on some of political science's and political philosophy's major themes: Western democracy, conceptions of freedom, the role of the public sector, bureaucracy, and modernity
  • Explores equality as an issue of negotiation and social control
  • Includes supplementary material:

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

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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.

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Table of contents (9 chapters)

Authors and Affiliations

  • University College of Southeast Norway, Porsgrunn, Norway

    Halvard Vike

About the author

Halvard Vike is Professor of Anthropology at University College of Southeast Norway and Telemark Research Institute, Norway. He has more than 25 years of experience with ethnographic work in political contexts in Norway, and been much involved in applied research on local arenas. His main area of interest is the emergence and transformation of political institutions and states.   

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Politics and Bureaucracy in the Norwegian Welfare State

  • Book Subtitle: An Anthropological Approach

  • Authors: Halvard Vike

  • Series Title: Approaches to Social Inequality and Difference

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Cham

  • eBook Packages: Social Sciences, Social Sciences (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2018

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-319-64136-2Published: 02 November 2017

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-319-87732-7Published: 24 August 2018

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-319-64137-9Published: 20 October 2017

  • Series ISSN: 2946-305X

  • Series E-ISSN: 2946-3068

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: VII, 188

  • Topics: Ethnography, Politics of the Welfare State

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