Jill Loga: Civil society and the welfare state in Norway – historical relations and future roles
Recent years have seen an increasing interest in how civil society can contribute to the renewal of welfare states. Civil society and grassroots’ initiatives and organizations played a central role in the original establishment of welfare states, but gradually the roles of civil society in welfare decreased. In Norway, there is still a high level of civic participation, but engagement is strong in the fields of culture and leisure, especially in children’s leisure activities in communities. In current public debates in Norway, as in many other European countries, the potential roles of civil society in the welfare state have been high on the agenda. Starting from studies of Norwegian white papers and official reports, in which civil society is increasingly seen as an untapped resource for ideal welfare production, coproduction between sectors, social innovation and entrepreneurship, voluntary sector and advocacy, the article will discuss how key values and practices in community work can add to or challenge this endeavour. The example of Norway is used with some comparative references to other countries. The article highlights not only the economic preconditions for future development for welfare, but also structural preconditions for a renewal of community work and possible new collaborative relations between civil society and the welfare state.