9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN25 Social Movements

2009-09-05 13:30:00 2009-09-05 15:00:00 Saturday, 5 September 13:30 - 15:00 Contentious Politics, Prepression, Cooperation and Participation Building I, 1E3

Opposition and integration ? Movements of the marginalized in a Nordic welfare state

In this paper we investigate the mobilization and collective action of marginalized groups in Norway in light of the specific characteristics of the Nordic welfare state. The paper depart from theories of social movements as focused on societal dilemmas and antagonistic conflicts concerning basic orientations of society, represented by Alain Touraine and Alberto Melluci. This is an approach stressing that the collective actions of social movements involve a breach of the limits of compatibility of the system, and make a distinction between social movements and political movements, the last ones concerned mainly with participation in decision-making.
In the paper we analyze collective action by recipients of welfare services and income maintenance and the outcome of their action. We argue that in a welfare state in which social movements and civil associations turns towards the state, not against in, movements of the marginalized too put effort in achieving recognition from the political system. The outcome searched for by movements of the marginalized is policy measures. Thus, to understand the nature of social movements one has to take account of the nature of the state in which the movement operate.
The empirical basis for the analysis is two cases, an organization mobilizing poor people, and an association of mental health patients. These cases of collective action of marginalized groups are to be understood in light of the disability movements' struggle for equal opportunities, for disabled people's right to speak for themselves, and for associations of disabled as the legitimate spokespersons of the disabled. The disability movement, building on the traditions of the labor movement, seems to have paved the way for other marginalized groups. Thus the Norwegian welfare state seems to integrate oppositional voices, and offer a position where marginalized groups both might participate in and oppose the established welfare system. However, this position presents dilemmas to the marginalized.