Controlling the Swedish state Studies on formal and informal bodies of control
Abstract: The dissertation aims to develop an understanding of the outcomes and limitations of formal and informal control of the Swedish state, and of the positions and strategies of the social agents involved in this field. The dissertation contributes with new perspectives on controls directed at the state, comparing various control organs (the Parliamentary Ombudsman, the Chancellor of Justice, the United Nations, the European Court of Human Rights and NGOs) and focusing on a wide range of wrongs and harms by the Swedish state.Paper I explores incidents for which the Swedish state and its agencies have been judged to be responsible by formal control organs. Paper II analyzes the accounts used by state representatives in judgments from formal control organs on issues related to migration. Paper III examines the characteristics of those who hold the state accountable via the European Court. Paper IV explores how formal and informal control organs frame problems in relation to the Swedish state’s treatment of residence permit applicants.The studies demonstrate that formal domestic control organs mainly direct criticisms at state agencies that focus on particular and procedural issues. International bodies of formal and particularly informal control publish criticisms of the state that focus on general and systemic issues. The dissertation highlights how control organs offer limited access to accountability, and how controls of the state may be perceived as both ineffective and counterproductive. Another conclusion is that the positions and strategies of the agents in this field are dependent on their specific capital (resources, knowledge and support). Control of the state is understood as a field of struggle for recognition and legitimacy, in which accusations are denied by representatives of the state and control organs balance their criticism in order to maintain credibility. Both informal control organs and those who hold the state accountable must adjust to the rules of the game or risk being defined out.
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