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Controlling the Swedish state: Studies on formal and informal bodies of control
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Criminology.
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The dissertation aims to develop an understanding of the outcomes and limitations of formal and informal control of the Swedish state, and of the positions and strategies of the social agents involved in this field. The dissertation contributes with new perspectives on controls directed at the state, comparing various control organs (the Parliamentary Ombudsman, the Chancellor of Justice, the United Nations, the European Court of Human Rights and NGOs) and focusing on a wide range of wrongs and harms by the Swedish state.

Paper I explores incidents for which the Swedish state and its agencies have been judged to be responsible by formal control organs. Paper II analyzes the accounts used by state representatives in judgments from formal control organs on issues related to migration. Paper III examines the characteristics of those who hold the state accountable via the European Court. Paper IV explores how formal and informal control organs frame problems in relation to the Swedish state’s treatment of residence permit applicants.

The studies demonstrate that formal domestic control organs mainly direct criticisms at state agencies that focus on particular and procedural issues. International bodies of formal and particularly informal control publish criticisms of the state that focus on general and systemic issues. The dissertation highlights how control organs offer limited access to accountability, and how controls of the state may be perceived as both ineffective and counterproductive. Another conclusion is that the positions and strategies of the agents in this field are dependent on their specific capital (resources, knowledge and support). Control of the state is understood as a field of struggle for recognition and legitimacy, in which accusations are denied by representatives of the state and control organs balance their criticism in order to maintain credibility. Both informal control organs and those who hold the state accountable must adjust to the rules of the game or risk being defined out.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Criminology, Stockholm University , 2014. , 86 p.
Series
Avhandlingsserie / Kriminologiska institutionen, Stockholms universitet, ISSN 1404-1820 ; 36
Keyword [en]
Parliamentary Ombudsman, Chancellor of Justice, United Nations, European Court of Human Rights, NGOs, control of the state, accountability, state crime, Sweden, techniques of neutralizations, problem representations, immigration
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Criminology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-110050ISBN: 978-91-7649-067-9 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-110050DiVA: diva2:768796
Public defence
2015-01-16, hörsal 8, hus D, Universitetsvägen 10 D, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 4: Manuscript.

Available from: 2014-12-18 Created: 2014-12-04 Last updated: 2014-12-16Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. State Crime in the Street-Level Bureaucracy: Towards an Understanding of Crimes of the Welfare State
Open this publication in new window or tab >>State Crime in the Street-Level Bureaucracy: Towards an Understanding of Crimes of the Welfare State
2012 (English)In: International Criminal Justice Review, ISSN 1057-5677, E-ISSN 1556-3855, Vol. 22, no 3, 258-275 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

On the basis of two points of departure: (1) no state has clean hands and (2) the types of crime a state commits vary with state formations, this article explores cases where the Swedish state and its agencies have been held responsible for some form of wrongdoing. Drawing on a total of 8,561 judgments issued against the state by agencies of control (the Parliamentary Ombudsman, the Chancellor of Justice, and the European Court of Human Rights), the study finds that most cases of substantive and procedural crime committed by the state are related to the street-level bureaucracy, where state officials working in public sector agencies interact with citizens in the course of their everyday employment. Further, the study finds that most of the judgments revolve around issues of particular accountability relating to the individual interests of the complainants and that only a relatively small portion involve complaints against the state in relation to general policies or general conduct. One overall conclusion is that the crimes committed by the Swedish welfare state involve acts of negligence rather than purposeful acts of repression, and that the offences primarily involve procedural rather than substantive wrongs. The results are interpreted as a function of both how state bureaucracy works and of the limited ability of the existing control mechanisms.

Keyword
state crime, welfare state, street-level bureaucracy, control of the state
National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
Research subject
Criminology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-85021 (URN)10.1177/1057567712456872 (DOI)
Available from: 2013-01-04 Created: 2013-01-04 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
2. Seeking Asylum and Residence Permits in Sweden: Denial, Acknowledgement, and Bureaucratic Legitimacy
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Seeking Asylum and Residence Permits in Sweden: Denial, Acknowledgement, and Bureaucratic Legitimacy
2014 (English)In: Critical Criminology, ISSN 1205-8629, E-ISSN 1572-9877, Vol. 22, no 2, 219-235 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Sweden’s reputation as one of the most encompassing welfare states in the world is maintained by means of a good self-image, not least in relation to refugee policies. At the same time, external authorities have been critical of Sweden’s handling of the process of seeking asylum. Drawing on Stanley Cohen’s concepts of denial and partial acknowledgment, the article explores how Swedish state officials respond to complaints regarding the process of seeking asylum and other forms of residence permit. The study analyzes judgments from the Parliamentary Ombudsman, the Chancellor of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights. The analysis suggests that even within the well-developed democratic state, denials constitute a form of account that may be utilized to maintain bureaucratic legitimacy. In addition, partial acknowledgments serve to present state actors as decent and self-correcting. At the same time these acknowledgements could be understood as constituting a means of avoiding moral censure.

National Category
Other Social Sciences
Research subject
Criminology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-92371 (URN)10.1007/s10612-013-9206-3 (DOI)000334052600004 ()
Available from: 2013-08-01 Created: 2013-08-01 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
3. European Court of Human Rights: accountability to whom?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>European Court of Human Rights: accountability to whom?
2014 (English)In: Towards a Victimology of State Crime / [ed] Dawn L. Rothe, David Kauzlarich, New York: Routledge, 2014, 173-190 p.Chapter in book (Other academic)
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
New York: Routledge, 2014
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Criminology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-110048 (URN)9780415639002 (ISBN)
Available from: 2014-12-04 Created: 2014-12-04 Last updated: 2016-10-04Bibliographically approved
4. The state’s mishandling of immigration to Sweden: How bodies controlling the state frame the problem
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The state’s mishandling of immigration to Sweden: How bodies controlling the state frame the problem
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Many scholars have noted that states consistently violate human rights in relation to asylum seekers. The author asks how the problems related to the situation of current and former residence permit applicants, mostly asylum-seekers, are framed in Sweden by various bodies that exercise control in relation to the state. The analysis focuses on the problem representations found in judgements and reports from, and interviews with, bodies that exercise control of the state, and draws attention to how various control bodies differ in the way they frame the issues in focus. While formal domestic control organs (the Parliamentary Ombudsmen and the Chancellor of Justice) present problems within a bureaucratic frame, the formal international control organs (the UN and the European Court) and informal control organs (NGOs) represents problems within a variety of frames:  the rule of law, protection from other states, positive obligations and non-discrimination, repressive elements and the right to seek asylum. These frames are linked to positions and strategies of the different bodies of control. The analysis highlights how the bodies of control struggle for recognition and legitimacy, how they balance between being “defined out” and “defined in” and how the “doxa” shapes the framings.

National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Criminology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-110049 (URN)
Note

Revised manuscript, resubmitted to Crime, Law and Social Change.

Available from: 2014-12-04 Created: 2014-12-04 Last updated: 2014-12-05

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