The National Health Service (NHS) officially ‘opened’ across Britain in 1948. It replaced a patchy system of charity and local providers, and made healthcare free at the point of use. Over the subsequent decades, the NHS was vested with cultural meaning, and even love. By 1992, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson declared that the service was ‘the closest thing the English have to a religion’. Yet in 2016, a physician publishing in the British Medical Journal asked whether the service was, in fact, a ‘national religion or national football’, referring to the complex politics of healthcare. Placards, posters, and prescriptions radically illuminates the multiple meanings of the NHS, in public life and culture, over its seventy years of life. The book charts how this institution has been ignored, worshipped, challenged, and seen as under threat throughout its history. It analyses changing cultural representations and patterns of public behaviour that have emerged, and the politics and everyday life of health. By looking at the NHS through the lenses of labour, activism, consumerism, space, and representation, this collection showcases the depth and potential of cultural history. This approach can explain how and why the NHS has become the defining institution of contemporary Britain.
is no agreed definition of the term ‘welfare state’, though we can say
that the description became widely used in the early years of the twentieth
century. We can also make a clear distinction between a situation where the
state provides a wide variety of welfare provision and one where there is a
systematic arrangement for providing universalwelfare through the state.
This distinction can be illustrated by referring to health care provision in
Before 1946 health care was either privately supplied, in which case
individuals simply paid for their own
– courts, a penal system, a police force – they can
nevertheless be pressed in the absence of these structures, which are
not necessary for the identification of counterpart-obligation holders.
But she claims that the same is not true of universalwelfare rights to
goods and services. Unless and until counterpart-obligations are
distributed by institutions, it makes no sense to talk of welfare rights
Given the significant similarities and differences between the welfare states of Northern Europe and their reactions to the perceived 'refugee crisis' of 2015, the book focuses primarily on the three main cases of Denmark, Sweden and Germany. Placed in a wider Northern European context – and illustrated by those chapters that also discuss refugee experiences in Norway and the UK – the Danish, Swedish and German cases are the largest case studies of this edited volume. Thus, the book contributes to debates on the governance of non-citizens and the meaning of displacement, mobility and seeking asylum by providing interdisciplinary analyses of a largely overlooked region of the world, with two specific aims. First, we scrutinize the construction of the 2015 crisis as a response to the large influx of refugees, paying particular attention to the disciplinary discourses and bureaucratic structures that are associated with it. Second, we investigate refugees’ encounters with these bureaucratic structures and consider how these encounters shape hopes for building a new life after displacement. This allows us to show that the mobility of specific segments of the world’s population continues to be seen as a threat and a risk that has to be governed and controlled. Focusing on the Northern European context, our volume interrogates emerging policies and discourses as well as the lived experiences of bureaucratization from the perspective of individuals who find themselves the very objects of bureaucracies.
Institutions and the challenges of refugee governance
specifically the principle of ‘The People’s Home’
(folkhemmet, see e.g. Lawler, 2003). This vision of universalwelfare, coined
by Social Democrat leader Per Albin Hansson in 1927, has – at least from
the early 1930s until the late 1980s – been considered sacred in Swedish
Additionally, the post-shame discourse is exemplified in providing space
for politicians from the ultranationalist and extreme rightist Sweden Democrats (SD) to present their views on refugee policies and thus normalising
the role played by such a party in Swedish political discourse. At
Webbs would have found fault) with the flexibility of local responses
to poverty and the energy with which the urge to reform both
the law and the poor was taken up.17 Perhaps the most outspoken,
ambitious exponent of the view that the old poor law provided
an effective welfare safety net, Peter Solar, argues that parishes
manipulated their implementation of the poor laws in accordance
with local perceptions of labour supply and demand.18 He considers
that this tailoring of the poor law to labour needs produced a
near-universalwelfare system which supported