Policy professionals in the welfare state

This project examines so called "policy professionals", people who are employed in order to affect policy and politics. What is the impact of them, rather than elected officials, gaining more influence over politics?

We analyse a group that we denote as ”policy professionals” They are people employed by different organizations in order to affect policy and politics – rather than elected to office. It is a group that has grown in numbers and importance. The policy professionals are found in organizations such as government agencies, political parties, parliament, interest organisations, think-tanks, and lobbying organizations. The carry job titles such as political secretary, political advisor, research officer, consultant, etc. We focus on three aspects of the work of policy professionals:

  1. The work of policy professionals as a particular form for political influence
    What resources do they use in their work? What kind of networks are they imbedded in and how do they use these networks? How do they see their own role and work compared to that of elected politicians and organizational representatives? What influence do they perceive that they have, and what do they see as limitations and restrictions? In what phases of the policy process are they particularly active?
  2. The occupation and career choices of policy professionals
    Why do they choose to pursue politics in this particular form? What merits have been decisive for them in reaching their positions? What are their future career plans? Is this a step towards becoming an elected politician or towards other careers?
  3. The labour market for policy professionals
    How extensive is the labour market for policy professionals? What are the most typical or significant moves and trajectories in this labour market? What are seen as career opportunities and limitations? What informal rules guide their work? How do they balance their own career interests with organizational interests and broader societal interests? How is status and hierarchy perceived among policy professionals?

The project is based on interviews with policy professionals, politicians and civil servants, and on a descriptive mapping of policy professionals.



Principal Investigator

Stefan Svallfors Professor, Sociology

Other project members


Swedish Research Council