Nordic Majority Churches as Agents in the Welfare State: Critical Voices and/or Complementary Providers?
The article compares the role in welfare provision of the majority churches in Finland, Norway and Sweden. The Nordic welfare state model implies a large public sector and a correspondingly small contribution to welfare provision by the voluntary sector, of which church-based welfare activities, as defined in the article, are part. The data used in the article are derived from a European project, ‘Welfare and religion in a European perspective’, concerning the role of European majority churches as agents of welfare provision. The findings show many similarities between the Nordic cases, but also some differences. In all cases it is clear that both the church and the public authorities take the Nordic welfare state model more or less for granted. The Swedish and Norwegian cases, unlike the Finnish one, show that the public authorities at the municipal level are fairly unfamiliar with local church-based welfare activities. The article raises topical questions as to the role of the Nordic churches in social policy and as moral authorities in contemporary society.
Keywords: Welfare, Church, Finland, Norway, Sweden
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