2012 Conference Presentation
The Norwegian and British welfare states represent two very different welfare regimes in Europe in terms of how far their citizens’ should be dependent on the market and family rather than the state. In both countries personalisation policies, that is policies encouraging people’s greater choice and control have been implemented during the last two decades. New Public Management inspired ideas promoted new ways of organizing social care services stimulating the personalisation agenda through the purchaser-provider split and the free choice of service provider organization, then through the introduction of direct payments and later individual budgets as well as currently the personal budgets.
Simultaneously, in both countries, though significantly more in Britain than in Norway, marketization has taken place in the long term care sector in terms of an increasing number of for-profit service providers offering home care services or residential services for older and disabled people. The aim of this paper is – with the help of selected concrete and empirically based examples (from research and available figures) – to discuss whether it makes any difference if the personalisation agenda is implemented in a Social Democratic Norwegian welfare regime or a more liberal welfare regime like the British one.
Theoretically, the framework of this discussion will take its point of departure in two discourses that have influenced the personalisation agenda: a social justice discourse that encourages the citizen’s capabilities in order to strengthen social inclusion and justice, and a consumerist discourse that rather strengthens the individual’s consumer role in the private market. The theoretical discussion – based on comparative empirical investigation – will focus on whether the two discourses actually are compatible in the everyday life social care context in the two countries. This comparative discussion will consider whether these dilemmas are stronger in the Norwegian case than the British. For example, is marketization a more “illegitimate” policy in Norway, and are unintended consequences, such as increasing inequality among service users with different resources, harder to deal with in Norwegian society than in Britain? A final discussion will consider the policy implications from the experiences of the two countries.