© 2016

Reform and Responsibility in the Remaking of the Swedish National Pension System

Opening the Orange Envelope

  • Authors

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Anette Nyqvist
    Pages 31-47
  3. Anette Nyqvist
    Pages 49-78
  4. Anette Nyqvist
    Pages 107-128
  5. Anette Nyqvist
    Pages 129-153
  6. Anette Nyqvist
    Pages 155-166
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 167-207

About this book


Reform and Responsibility in the Remaking of the Swedish National Pension System is a detailed study through Sweden's national pension system. With Sweden's recently reformed national pension system as the illustrative example, Nyqvist shows how new forms of governance effectively shift responsibility from state level to an individual level. She sheds light on how politicians, technocrats, and bureaucrats work to educate and foster the general public into responsible, hardworking, and financially literate citizens. This ethnographic example of how contemporary power works by way of new forms of governance, Reform and Responsibility in the Remaking of the Swedish National Pension System is an exploration into the art of governing of a large-scale governmental policy process


Pension system reform Pension privatization Anthropology of policy Swedish national pension system aging anthropology Anthropology of policy. cultural anthropology culture law Pension privatization. Pension system reform. politics social care social science social work sociology state

About the authors

Anette Nyqvist is Associate Professor in Social Anthropology at Stockholm University, Sweden.

Bibliographic information


"The concept of the welfare state is almost interchangeable with the concept of Sweden, and in this meticulous, highly readable study Nyqvist examines its nuts and bolts through a close look at the Swedish pension system. Moving between the particularities of the orange envelope and its wider implications, this monograph is not just a study of Sweden, but an innovative contribution to the anthropology of governmentality and the state in a neoliberal era." - Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo, Norway

"Reform and Responsibility in the Remaking of the Swedish National Pension System is a tour de force. Nyqvist analyzes brilliantly the challenges of creating a new Swedish pension system, not merely as abstract issues of rules and regulations, but as an endeavor that evokes a complex range of human concerns and societal preoccupations. The book sets a high standard for anthropology of policy insisting that the public must be viewed as fully within the policy drama." - Douglas Holmes, Professor of Anthropology, Binghamton University, USA; author of Economy of Words: Communicative Imperatives in Central Banks (2014).

"In 1999 Sweden introduced a new mandatory national pension system that is transforming its society. In this pioneering ethnographic study, Nyqvist shows how an anthropological study of pension reform provides a critical window onto wider issues, from neoliberal policy agendas and changing state-citizen relationships, to new forms of governance based on financialization and the creation of responsibilized subjects. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in political anthropology and social change in contemporary Europe." - Cris Shore, Professor of Social Anthropology, The University of Auckland, New Zealand; author of Building Europe: The Cultural Politics of European Integration (2000) and co-author of Policy Worlds: Anthropology and the Analysis of Contemporary Power (2011)