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  • 1.
    Kullenberg, Christopher
    et al.
    Göteborgs universitet, Institutionen för filosofi, lingvistik och vetenskapsteori.
    Nelhans, Gustaf
    University of Borås, Faculty of Librarianship, Information, Education and IT.
    Measuring Welfare beyond GDP : 'Objective' and 'Subjective' Indicators in Sweden, 1968–20152017In: Valuation Studies, ISSN 2001-5992, Vol. 5, no 1, p. 7-38Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This article analyses a series of negotiations on how to measure welfare and quality of life in Sweden beyond economic indicators. It departs from a 2015 Government Official Report that advanced a strong recommendation to measure only ‘objective indicators’ of quality of life, rather than relying on what is referred to as ‘subjective indicators’ such as life satisfaction and happiness. The assertion of strictly ‘objective’ indicators falls back on a sociological perspective developed in the 1970s, which conceived of welfare as being measurable as ‘levels of living’, a framework that came to be called ‘the Scandinavian model of welfare research’. However, in the mid-2000s, objective indicators were challenged scientifically by the emerging field of happiness studies, which also found political advocates in Sweden who argued that subjective indicators should become an integral part of measuring welfare. This tension between ‘subjective’ and ‘objective’ measurements resulted in a controversy between several actors about what should count as a valuable measurement of welfare. As a consequence, we argue that the creation of such value meters is closely intertwined with how welfare is defined, and by what measures welfare should be carried through.

  • 2.
    Nelhans, Gustaf
    et al.
    University of Borås, Faculty of Librarianship, Information, Education and IT.
    Kullenberg, Christopher
    University of Gothenburg.
    Happiness as a Valuation of Nations: From Margin to Indicator2016Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper traces how subjective measures of welfare were transformed from a marginal issue in the social sciences to a valuation of welfare of nations. The co-production of social science and politics is analysed in a case study of negotiations of subjective and objective indicators in Sweden.

    Since the 1970s social scientists have strived towards finding a replacement for the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as an indicator of welfare in nations. Over the years, various political actors have attempted to make such measurements comply with their ideas of what constitutes a good society. This paper traces the co-production of social scientific knowledge and the political process of attempting to establish a new standardized way of measuring welfare in Sweden.

    As GDP and other purely economic indicators have dominated how value is ascribed to nations, the various attempts of challenging this form of measurement have taken place at the margins of the social sciences. However, during the past two decades, the negotiations of finding alternative measures of welfare have dramatically moved forward their positions, entering mainstream science and politics.

    Drawing from a variety of source documents (political proposals, influential reports, mass media accounts and scientific literature), this article connects and analyses multiple modes of veridiction that are the subjects of controversies and negotiations in the construction of a proposed valuemeter of welfare in Sweden. As a result, we show how two major social scientific conceptions of welfare measurements, based either on subjective or objective indicators, relate (without being reduced) to political proposals.

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