"You cannot blame anyone else". Being in charge of the future
Paper in proceedings, 2004
The pension system in Sweden underwent a dramatic change during the 1990s. Replacing the traditional welfare model of a more or less collective solution for all Swedes, an individual-focused pension model was launched in 2000. As one part of this new pension system, Swedes were given the
possibility to place their future pension assets in commercial stock and interest funds, which are supervised by the government. The pensions in Sweden are nowadays on the market. The old pension system was labeled "the greatest victory for the [Swedish] workers' movement" when the decision to introduce it followed the referendum in 1957. The new system has been called "a victory of popular capitalism" and is seen as "a world away" from the traditional Swedish model of collectivism.
The new pension system has been accompanied by a creation of a new governmental agency, the Premium Pension Authority. The Authority is responsible for the maintenance of the fund system, and functions as a filter between the citizens and the commercial fund companies. The Authority is also expected to provide information about the new model to the Swedes. During the first four years of the pension system, a large body of texts has been produced and delivered to the Swedish citizens. A large website has also been constructed, with detailed information on it.
This paper deals with the expected shift of responsibility from the State to the individual via what I call the domestication of pension funds. The texts of the Premium Pension Authority are meant to be informative and instructive and they carry themes of individualization and appeal of pension funds. By using methods of corpus linguistics, it is possible to describe the ways of addressing the reader in the texts and also show how the reader is constructed in them (a "Model Reader"). Additionally, the analysis of verbs and verb forms that are attributed to the Model Reader permits a scrutiny of the presupposed actions of such Reader. The analysis is applied to a collected body of texts from the Premium Pension Authority. The themes of domestication and individualization are seen as textual strategies used by the Authority.