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Ett välfärdsstatligt dilemma: Statens formuleringar av en arbetstidsfråga 1919–2002
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economic History.
2016 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this thesis is to study how the Swedish welfare state formulated a question of shorter work hours, 1919—2002. During the 1900s, several official reports were published in order to produce knowledge about this issue and construct a manageable inquiry about shorter work hours. The aim of this thesis is to examine what were formulated as problems and solutions and which arguments and beliefs emerged from these formulations. Official state reports are regarded as instruments of knowledge production by the state. This intelligence was required to justify the possibility and desirability of the reform that shaped the question of shorter work hours in the welfare state.  

The aim of the official reports was to create knowledge, which determined the value of working time reduction. Leisure as welfare meant that the state interpreted the citizens’ needs and formulated working-time reduction as either a possible or impossible reform. Working hours have never been justified as a reform that simply gives more leisure and less time for work. The reform was instead considered possible and desirable because it was interpreted as helping to reproduce the labour force or capitalism as a whole. It was thought impossible and undesirable when considered to be a threat to this reproduction.  

However, there were two major reformulations of the question of shorter work. In the middle of the selected period, the matter moved from the sphere of production to a consumption sphere, meaning that the issue became less conflicted. The state’s responsibility to push the reform was deemphasized. Another reformulation is when flexibility was formulated as a solution, and thus made regulation of working time undesirable and unnecessary. This study shows how the conception of a question of shorter work hours was a process requiring formulations and reformulations and how these expressions fundamentally changed over time, although the basic premises remained. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2016. , 191 p.
Uppsala Studies in Economic History, ISSN 0346-6493 ; 104
Keyword [en]
Shorter work hours, social policy, welfare state, leisure, labour, knowledge production
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Economic History
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-277242ISBN: 978-91-554-9481-0 (print)OAI: diva2:904345
Public defence
2016-04-08, Hörsal 1, Ekonomikum, Kyrkogårdsgatan 10, Uppsala, 10:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2016-03-14 Created: 2016-02-18 Last updated: 2016-03-17

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