Transnational Historical Perspectives on Social Policy
Edited by Pauli Kettunen and Klaus Petersen
Chapter 6: The Lutheran Nordic welfare states
Pirjo Markkola What is the role of Lutheranism in the history of the Nordic welfare states? Since the 1990s, this question has gained more attention not only in welfare research but also in public debates in the Nordic countries. During the economic recession of the 1990s, Finnish theologians addressed the issue, suggesting that the Nordic welfare state is based on Lutheran heritage; therefore, the church should defend the Nordic model of welfare provision. This was declared explicitly by the Lutheran bishops who published their statement Towards the Common Good (1999; Salonen et al. 2000) on the future of the welfare society. Moreover, Nordic welfare research has been challenged by some historians and social scientists who argue that the character of the Nordic welfare states can be understood only if it is studied as a product of a long historical process. According to them, Lutheranism forms an important thread in this process. Yet these scholars represent only a minority within Nordic welfare research; those in the mainstream have not been particularly concerned about the religious dimensions of welfare policies. In this chapter I present discussions on the relationship between Lutheranism and the Nordic model of welfare provision and point out some issues for future research. My approach is based primarily on historiography. I first give a brief account of the ways in which the impact of religion was introduced into the study of Nordic welfare policies. Second, I take a look at the historical relationship between the state and the church...
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