Rescuing Welfare Society: Political Strategies for Mobilizing Civil Society in Denmark, 2010–2018

  • Mathias Hein JessenEmail author
Original Paper


The article analyzes how civil society is constructed in two Danish civil society strategies from 2010 to 2017, the governmental programmes of the governments in question and the role civil society plays in the proposed upcoming reform of the Danish public sector, the Cohesion Reform. The article approaches civil society from a Foucauldian perspective meaning that it on the one hand analyzes civil society as a transactional reality, something which does not exist as such, but must be continually produced as a given thing with certain values. On the other hand, it means analyzing civil society as a central part of a governmental rationality, or governmentality, which represents the natural movements of society and which government must respect and govern according to. This means that the natural, vital and originary processes of civil society becomes a measurement for good and right government in contradistinction to the artificial, cold and bureaucratic state and thereby posited as the rescuer of welfare society.


Civil society Governmentality Foucault Austerity Welfare retrenchment Voluntary organizations 



The author would like to thank the two reviewers of this article for very thorough comments and constructive criticism that has helped improve this article.


This study was funded by The Carlsberg Foundation, Semper Ardens research project CISTAS—Civil Society in the Shadow of the State (

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© International Society for Third-Sector Research and The Johns Hopkins University 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Management, Politics and PhilosophyCopenhagen Business SchoolFrederiksbergDenmark

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