The determinants of social policy. A case study: Regulating health and safety at the workplace in Sweden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This article presents an analysis and critique of the 'technocratic' view of occupational health and safety policies, which sees the values of the personnel of the 'postindustrial' regulatory agencies as the most important determinant of those policies. An alternate position is put forth which explains those occupational health and safety policies as primarily the result of different degrees of political power of the two major classes (capital and labor) and the set of influences exerted on the regulatory agencies by the instruments (e.g., political parties, unions, trade organizations) of those classes. It is shown how an analysis of the historical evolution of those classes in Sweden and their conflict in both civil and political societies better explains the Swedish occupational health and safety policies than the mere analysis of the regulators' views. It is concluded that the occupational health and safety policies in Sweden are not identical to the U.S. policies - as the 'technocratic' theorists assume - but rather they offer more protection to the workers than the U.S. ones. This situation is a result of labor's greater power in Sweden than in the United States. The different class formations and class behavior in both societies are compared, and the implications of this comparison for occupational health and safety policies are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)517-561
Number of pages45
JournalInternational Journal of Health Services
Volume13
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1983

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy

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