Completed: Subterranean politics – the world and work of policy professionals

What are the implications of policy professionals gaining more and more influence over the political agenda, rather than elected officials? This project examines how these policy professionals, who are employed rather than elected to office, view their work.

This is a research program to study policy professionals, i e people who are employed in different capacities to affect politics and policy, rather than elected to office. They comprise of groups such as political advisors, political secretaries, trade union and business associations experts, lobbyists, think-tank intellectuals, etc. The research focusses on the following main issues:

1) The work of policy professionals as a particular form for political influence

2) The occupation and career choices of policy professionals

3) The labour market for policy professionals

The existing empirical material consists of about 70 long semi-structured interviews with a wide selection of policy professionals and a quantitative descriptive mapping of the group. The current program extends these data in several ways.

1) First, we ask how the category of policy professionals became constituted and how its composition has changed from 1980-2012.

2) Second, we follow the trajectories and changing outlooks of the 2012 cohort.

3) Third, we extend our analyses to the European Union level, asking how Swedish policy professionals act at the EU level in trying to affect politics and policies.

4) Fourth, we ask how the Swedish situation and development differ from those found in other European polities.

5) The research program will also contain a major case study in relation to the work and influence of policy professionals: the rise of the “welfare-industrial complex” in Sweden 1990-2015 compared to the very different development in Norway.



Principal Investigator

Stefan Svallfors Professor, Sociology

Project members

Corrie Hammar MSc, Business and Economics
Niels Selling PhD, Political Science
Anna Tyllström PhD, Business Studies