Journal of Social Sciences

Limits and Opportunities for Autonomous User Organisations in Denmark and Sweden

Jørgen Anker

DOI : 10.3844/jssp.2007.78.87

Journal of Social Sciences

Volume 3, Issue 2

Pages 78-87


The Nordic welfare states generally support and facilitate the formation of civil society organisations and they provide relatively good opportunities for participation and interest mediation. The Nordic welfare states are also recognised for their efforts to limit social inequality and for seeking to provide acceptable living conditions even for the most vulnerable and excluded groups. This article focuses on the opportunities for the participation for drug users, which is one of the most marginalised groups in society. Taking the cases of Denmark and Sweden, it explores the extent to which it has been possible for people who currently use drugs to organise and gain recognition as legitimate spokesmen for drug users – even when they favour strategies that are not part of the official welfare state policy. The article shows that opportunities for the autonomous organisation of drug users have been better in Denmark than in Sweden. It argues that this can be explained by different approaches to addiction and state intervention. The article thus highlights some ideological differences between the two Nordic welfare states. The article also argues that drug policies in the Nordic countries appear to be converging.


© 2007 Jørgen Anker. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.