Call for papers: Public policies in the Nordic welfare states
From the golden era to the crossroads, from challenges to responses

Special Issue’s Editors:

• Dr Magdalena Rek-Woźniak, Faculty of Economics and Sociology, University of Łódź, e-mail:
• Dr hab. Wojciech Woźniak, Faculty of Economics and Sociology, University of Łódź, e-mail:

Nordic welfare states remain crucial reference points in debates concerning the feasibility of various policy solutions. They endure, occupying top positions in many international rankings, regardless of the constant voices of critics expecting their demise and bankruptcy. Although internally diverse, they have effectively debunked the myth that governments “should just not interfere”, with their successes mostly attributed to the active role of the state and coherent implementation of evidence-based policies which allowed both economic and technological growth and a rapid increase in the quality of life of their citizens. They achieved the allegedly impossible task of combining egalitarian values and generous welfare spending with an active and entrepreneurial state achieving unquestionable successes in the most modern and technologically advanced sectors of the economy.
Most recently, Nordic welfare states proved their resiliency and efficacy during the pandemic. Iceland, Norway, Finland, and Denmark are among the countries with the lowest coronavirus death rates, more than twice lower than the European Union average, but even Sweden which applied a different and controversial approach to fighting the pandemic in its early stages has a coronavirus death rate lower than the EU average. The socio-economic and monetary indicators prove that the economies of the Nordic states bounced back quickly after the downturn caused by the pandemic and lockdowns.

Daniel Dorling, professor of social geography at the Oxford University and otherwise very critical scholar entitled his recent book (co-written with Annika Koljonen) on Finland with an enthusiasm rarely seen in academic publications: “Finntopia: What We Can Learn from the World's Happiest Country”. Nonetheless, the Nordic welfare states face diverse challenges concerning the way public policies are being agreed upon and implemented and the future of the Nordic model is not clear. To name just a few challenges ahead:
• Due to the growing ethnic diversity in the Nordic states, fundamental challenges concern the questions of social citizenship and welfare chauvinism as demonstrated by the increase in support for far-right parties with radically anti-immigration stances.
• Notwithstanding conflicts within the political discourse, integration of migrants and their socioeconomic position in the Nordic societies is and will be a crucially important issue from the perspective of the social cohesion of the Nordic societies.
• Migration will remain an increasingly important policy issue and political topic, since it is universally perceived as a panacea for the greying of the Nordic population and unfavourable fertility rates.
• Some policies are under constant pressure to incorporate pro-market solutions in accordance with the neoliberal narrative and the gradual dismantling of certain aspects of traditional Nordic welfare regimes is ongoing, although the process is very diverse.
• Growing domestication of the start-up culture and expansion of a digital platform economy threatens the stability of labour relations (also in the most advanced segments of the labour market).
• Changes and challenges concerning urban policies in Nordic cities, particularly trends of mega-projects- and mega-investment-based development.
• Although the healthcare systems of the Nordic states are amongst most stable, efficient, and cost-effective, they are under growing pressure from multinational corporations to introduce privatization or at least larger commercialization of the services.
• The tertiary education systems and the models of financing science allow the top Nordic universities to occupy high positions in international rankings, but the highly competitive system has introduced a growing precarity, particularly for younger university staff and financial pressures have led to public universities to introduce solutions usually associated with the private BPO sector.
• Recently, the basic income experiment undertaken in Finland raised questions about the long-term feasibility of the current model of welfare spending and potential innovative solutions to budgetary challenges.
• Promoting social cohesion internally, both Nordic states and companies participate actively in aggressive competition in the global markets as investors, creating direct and indirect economic pressures for other societies in and outside Europe.

Instructions and Deadlines:
• We invite abstracts and paper proposals concerning those and other challenges that Nordic welfare states face. Authors are expected to submit extended 500-700 word abstracts of their papers by the end of November 2022.
• Abstracts should be sent to guest editors Magdalena Rek-Woźniak at and Wojciech Woźniak at
• Authors will be notified of the status of their submissions by December 15th. For this issue, we plan to accept 5–8 papers.
The manuscripts will be due by the end of May 2023 via Editorial System
• We expect papers between 6,000 and 9,000 words - including abstract, references, and footnotes), edited in accordance with the Journal’s Instructions for Authors.
• The peer-review process will be completed by mid-2023, and the publication of the Issue is planned for late 2023, or early 2024.