At a crossroads

The Church of Sweden and its role as a welfare provider in a changing Swedish welfare state

Authored by: Eva Jeppsson Grassman

The Routledge Handbook of Religion, Spirituality and Social Work

Print publication date:  March  2017
Online publication date:  April  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138931220
eBook ISBN: 9781315679853
Adobe ISBN:


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The aim of this chapter is to place the Church of Sweden within the contemporary ongoing discussion about the organisation and provision of welfare in Sweden. 1 The point of departure is the processes of changes that the Swedish welfare state has gone through in the past few decades, implying far-reaching deregulations and patterns of privatisation and contracting. On the other hand, the Church of Sweden has, since its separation from the State in the year 2000, taken on a new status that offers opportunities but also challenges, not least in the area of faith-based care provision. This chapter will discuss what characterises the changes that have taken place and how these changes affect the Church of Sweden, notably in the area of welfare and care provision. How has the Church, to date, contributed to welfare and care? What are the possible ways forward for the Church and its welfare work? Should the Church strengthen its role as a welfare and care provider in civil society through increased community work and through the creation of ‘togetherness’ and networks within the parishes? Should it strengthen its religious voice and its distinctive, religious character, not least through its traditional social work? Or should the Church launch itself into the contracted-out ‘welfare market’ as one among many contracted welfare providers that exist in Sweden today? The chapter elaborates on these different options, focusing on their prerequisites and consequences for the Church.

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