Welfare State Supporter and Civil Society Activist: Church of Sweden in the “Refugee Crisis” 2015

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Welfare State Supporter and Civil Society Activist: Church of Sweden in the “Refugee Crisis” 2015


  • Jonas Ideström Church of Sweden Research Department, Sweden
  • Stig Linde School of Social Work, Lund University, Sweden


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Abstract:  2015 was a year of an unprecedented migration from the Middle East to Europe. Sweden received almost 163,000 asylum applications. The civil society, including the former state church, took a notable responsibility. In a situation where the welfare systems are increasingly strained, and both the welfare state and the majority church are re-regulated, we ask: how does this play out in local contexts? This article reports from a theological action research project within a local parish in the Church of Sweden. The Lutheran church has from year 2000 changed its role to an independent faith denomination. The study describes the situation when the local authority and the parish together run temporary accommodation for young asylum seekers. For the local authority the choice of the church as a collaborator was a strategic choice. For the local parish this occasion verified the mission of the church. Confirming its former role as carrier of societal beliefs and values the Church of Sweden supports the welfare state. At the same time, the church explores a new role as a faith denomination and part of the civil society.

Keywords:  action research; Church of Sweden; civil society; diaconal work; parish; refugee; welfare state

Published:   24 June 2019


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v7i2.1958


© Jonas Ideström, Stig Linde. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.