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Critical Perspectives on the Nordic Model: The Rule of Law and Welfare Nexus

JUST SOCIETY is organizing a series of webinars that critically assesses the ‘Nordic model’ to understand how strong state institutions can promote equality.

The ‘Nordic model’ captures an encompassing and redistributive welfare system based on free market capitalism, rule of law, inclusive participation, and a strong state. A distinctive trait of the Nordic model is the achievement of universal access to social security policies and equal access to justice. The Nordic model has been glorified with Francis Fukuyama suggesting that all countries should be like ‘Denmark’. However, is all well with the Nordic model? And what would be the relevance of the Nordic experiences to countries in the Global South?

In its webinars, JUST SOCIETY opens for a discussion on these questions and for critical investigations into different aspects of the Nordic model. The webinars facilitate an interdisciplinary and intercontinental dialogue between legal and social science experts on the Nordic model and experts from selected Global South countries.

Time for all webinars: Odense 01:00 PM, Johannesburg 01:00 PM, Bangalore 04:30 PM, Brasilia 08:00 AM, Tbilisi 03:00 PM



Equal Access in the Nordic Model?

Thursday 15 April 2021, 13.00-14.15 (CET)

The webinar confronts the idea of universal access to welfare and equal access to justice to further the understanding of both social and legal equality in the Nordic countries.


Presentation by Klaus Petersen, Professor of Political Science and Director of Danish Centre for Welfare Studies, Department of Political Science, University of Southern Denmark.

The presentation discusses possible tensions between equality and the concept of universalism, which constitutes one of the cornerstones of Nordic welfare states. Whereas equality points towards redistribution and targeted interventions, universalism prescribes uniform social rights as the distributive principle and universal access to the collective social security arrangements. In his presentation, Klaus Petersen outlines the development of the Nordic welfare model and its approach to social security and discusses how universalism is practiced today focusing on the Nordic model’s ability to provide effective access to welfare benefits and services.


Presentation by Frederik Waage, Professor of Constitutional Law, Department of Law, University of Southern Denmark.

The presentation focuses on equality and access to justice from a rule of law perspective. Access to justice concerns inter alia the extent to which the state ensures that institutions are equally accessible to all so that people may vindicate their rights or resolve disputes under the general auspices of the state. It also involves citizens’ access to judicial review, including the possibility to challenge a government decision and invoke the protection of human rights before the courts. In his presentation, Frederik Waage assesses the challenges of access to justice in Denmark with perspectives to other Nordic countries.


Discussion by Sophie Plagerson, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Social Development in Africa, University of Johannesburg, and Elmarie Fourie, Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Law and Head of Department of Public Law, University of Johannesburg.

The discussants of the two presentations will comment on how (well) the Nordic model, and its ideas of universalism and equal access, travel to the Global South.


The webinar is chaired by Marianne S. Ulriksen, Associate Professor of Political Science and Project leader of JUST SOCIETY, Department of Political Science, University of Southern Denmark.

Criminal Justice and the Nordic Model

Wednesday 5 May 2021, 13.00-14.15 (CET)

The webinar discusses the relationship between criminal law and the welfare state with focus on the social implications of Nordic approaches to criminal proceedings, punishment, and crime prevention.


Presentation by Kerstin Bree Carlson, Associate Professor of International Law, Department of Social Sciences and Business, Roskilde University.

Drawing from two recent, highly publicized and controversial criminal cases – the 2020 Bornholm murder case and the 2018 terror case against Danish foreign fighter Adam Johansen currently pending before the European Court of Human Rights, Kerstin Bree Carlson's presentation addresses the relationship between Danish criminal law and wider social constructions of race, citizenship, and belonging in Denmark.


Presentation by Peter Starke, Professor of Political Science, Department of Political Science, University of Southern Denmark.

To confront the idea of Nordic welfare states that social policies are effective means to prevent criminal behavior, Peter Starke demonstrates in his presentation the impact of welfare state size and structure on comparative crime rates and discusses whether all welfare state programmes are equally worthy of attention when the goal is to target the structural causes of high crime.



The discussants (TBA) of the two presentations will compare criminal justice in the Nordic model with criminal justice systems in the Global South.


The webinar is chaired by Christian Prener, Postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Law, University of Southern Denmark, and part of JUST SOCIETY.

Public Administration in the Nordic Model

Thursday 27 May 2021, 13.00-14.15 (CET)

The webinar explores the role of the public administration in the Nordic model from the perspectives of the rule of law and the welfare state. Public administration relates to a wide range of activities undertaken by governmental agencies and institutions whose tasks are to ensure equal access to  justice and welfare. The webinar questions how public administration in the Nordic context is different from public administration in the Global South and discusses recent challenges to the way Nordic public administration works.

More details will follow soon.

Taxation in the Nordic Model

Wednesday 16 June 2021, 13.00-14.15 (CET) 

More details will follow soon.

Threats to the Nordic Model in Times of COVID-19

This webinar is postponed from its original date.  New date is TBD.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about unforeseen challenges to the ideas of equal access to welfare and justice in the Nordic countries as well as in a global perspective. In a retrospective analysis, this webinar invites experts to address the implications that spring from emergency responses (or lack thereof) to public health concerns in particularly regarding access to welfare and justice. The webinar discusses how well the Nordic Model fares under a pandemic and compares this with the experiences of countries in the Global South

More details will follow soon.


Did you miss the live webinar?

We are recording all the webinars. You will find them below after the live session. 


Watch "Equality in the Nordic Model?", 15th April 2021.  


Sign up for webinar "Criminal Justice in the Nordic Model"

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Download the webinar programme

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