The Relational Nordic Welfare State
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The Relational Nordic Welfare State

Between Utopia and Ideology

Edited by Sakari Hänninen, Kirsi-Marja Lehtelä and Paula Saikkonen

The success of the Nordic welfare state is well known, but the key drivers of its remarkable expansion are not. This book explores the relationships between citizens that constitute the normative groundwork of Nordic societies, arguing that the quality of relations steers welfare development.
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Chapter 8: The eco-social Nordic welfare state – a distant dream or a possible future?

Monika Berg and Paula Saikkonen


Monika Berg and Paula Saikkonen examine environmental sustainability in the Nordic welfare states. The future of citizens’ wellbeing requires that humans do not cause irreversible damage to nature, yet risk avoidance should be adjusted also for other societal concerns and functions. The chapter discusses relational rationalities and focuses on knowledge production. Knowledge and information are used in many ways in decision-making processes, sometimes to legitimise decisions already made. The science–policy interface is interpreted as a relation or actually a relation of multiple relations. Even though research brings more knowledge about complex environmental degradation, political decision-making seems to progress on linear trajectories. As there is always a great deal of uncertainty in decisions made concerning ecological sustainability, it is a question of coping with uncertainty. The social and ecological systems should be seen as relationally compatible with each other in order to achieve a sustainable welfare system.

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