One-day symposium: Citizen Meets the State in the Neoliberal Welfare Regime

Department of Political Science, Aarhus University - Tuesday, 24 May 2011, 9:00-18:00 + dinner in town. Participation is free and open to everyone.


The past few decades have seen an extensive diffusion of neoliberal ideas across all types of welfare regimes and policy sectors. Not only have the core institutions of central government been reformed to incorporate market-based principles from private management, but various fields of welfare services have similarly witnessed neoliberal waves of reform. Whether in health care, education or labour-market regulation, policy reforms have aimed to create an organizational structure similar to that of the market.

In order for public policies to assume the characteristics of the market, it has been necessary to identify or in many situations create the core components of a market organization such as consumers, providers, goods, and a medium for choice and competition. While being reminiscent of the market, these neoliberal reforms are often not about simply leaving social questions to the private market, but rather about creating market-like structures within the confines of the state and public policy.

This symposium aims to discuss neoliberal reforms within the context of the welfare state in both its universalist and residual forms. What does it mean for either type of welfare regime to become neoliberal? What does it involve for the individual citizen to be given and to be subjected to the status as a consumer of welfare? And what does it mean to introduce a competition principle into the existing systems of providing social assistance to groups with special needs?

On a slightly more abstract level, the symposium similarly aims to discuss whether the spread of neoliberalism effectively blurs the classical distinction between various welfare regimes. Is there a new type of neoliberal welfare regime on the horizon or would it be more correct to understand it simply as a regression towards the residual model? For example, although a country like Denmark is typically labeled a universal welfare state, still more residual policies have been implemented in the last 20 years. Aside from dealing with the welfare state’s fiscal challenges, we now see evidence of a new set of challenges related to the neo-liberal governing of social groups. This one-day symposium seeks to address these challenges and all six speakers will approach the question of citizen and the neoliberal state from different policy contexts.

The organizers are currently considering options to collect contributions for a special journal issue.

Venue: Room 038 – Building 1330

Participation is free and open to everyone.

Organizers: Marie Østergaard Møller (  & Lars Thorup Larsen (


  • 9.00:
    What is Neoliberalism? Welcome and Introduction

    by Lars Thorup Larsen (AU)
  • 9.30:
    From Citizen to Consumer: Legitimation and Governance in the Neoliberal Health Regime
    by Deborah Stone (Dartmouth College/AU)
  • 10.30:
    Coffee break
  • 10.45:
    Marketization via Compensation: Health Care Policy of Right Governments
    by Carsten Jensen (AU)
  • 11.30:
    Institutions and ethics. Explaining variations in sick leave benefit levels in two contexts
    by Helena Stenstöta (Göteborg Universitet)
  • 12.15:
  • 1.30:
    The Transformation of Poverty Governance: Neoliberal Organizational Forms and Paternalist Policy Tools
    by Sanford Schram (Bryn Mawr College):
  • 2.30:
    An early effort: Preventing social insecurity in the Neo-liberal State
    by Gitte Sommer Harrits (AU)
  • 3.15:
    Coffee break
  • 3.45:
    'Neo-liberal governing of 'radical groups': Danish radicalization prevention policies and potential iatrogenic effects'
    by Lasse Lindekilde (AU)
  • 4.30:
    by Marie Østergaard Møller (AU).
  • Dinner in town

See also:

Disciplining the Poor: Neoliberal Paternalism and the Persistent Power of Race
Guest lecture by Sanford Schram, (Bryn Mawr college) - Wednesday, 25 May, 15:00-16:00, in room AI, building 1330.