Back to search

GRUNNLOV-Grunnlovsjubileet 2014

Constitution, welfare state and citizenship

Awarded: NOK 4.8 mill.

The year 2014 marked the 200 years anniversary of the Norwegian Constitution, which was the start of the new and independent Norwegian state. This book discusses themes that have been in the shadows during the anniversary; the relations between the Constitution and the Norwegian welfare state. The main theme of the book is the gradual development from 1814-2014; the distance and different stages from liberal rule of law to a social democratic welfare state. The concept "welfare state" was unknown in 1814, and the 1814-constitution did not mention anything about social rights. However, Norway is today a developed welfare state, several times proclaimed as one of the best countries in the world to live in. This is so despite the fact that the Constitution has not been a protector of welfare services. The research project has been driven by a curiosity related to the question whether the Constitution still has played a role for the development of the welfare state, and, if so, which role, and how? Are there any relations at all? The project started out with a hypothesis that there must be some kind of relations between the Constitution and the welfare state, but that these are not necessarily evident. Early on we discovered one particular relation or «red thread», which connects the past and the present, namely the principle of equality. This principle is expressed in the 1814-Constitution, and it is one of the main values of the welfare state. The ideas of popular sovereignty, equality and human rights provide links between the 1814 Constitution and the modern Norwegian welfare state. It is reason to believe that the ideas of popular sovereignty, equality and human rights have influenced the Norwegian society, and thus that the Constitution has had some impact on the development of the welfare state. The book seeks to illustrate the gradual development and the «long lines» from autocracy, rule of law, democracy and to the modern welfare state, which are overlapping stages. In addition, the book provides a cross-cutting theme related to the Constitution as a basic "social contract" between the state and the citizens. A central question raised in the book is whether the Constitution provides an adequate expression of the modern Norwegian social contract. Section 2 of the Constitution - previously known as the "Judeprovision" - was the most famous and disputed section of the 1814 Constitution. The history of this provision, and its changes during 200 years, is also a story about Norwegian social development and outlook on foreigners. The historical debates about the "Judeprovision" in the Constitution provides an interesting backdrop for today´s debates about immigration, integration and exclusion. The «long lines» from 1814 to 2014 illustrate great differences but also the existence of important ties between the past and the present, and that the Constitution plays a role in connecting the past and the present. An important question today is what role the Constitution should play in the protection of essential welfare goods and marginalized groups and in the protection against a future possible destruction of the welfare state. In May 2014, the human rights protection in the Constitution was upgraded. Inter alia, new provisions on economic and social rights were included and thereby given constitutional protection: Children´s right to economic -, social - and health security, the right to education and the right to social assistance. Protection of health and the right to necessary health care (for adults) were not included, which is open to criticism in light of the long tradition (from the 19th century) of public health protection in Norway. Although the new provisions in the Constitution do not change the content of Norwegian law, they are still significant: The Constitution, understood as a basic "social contract" between the state and the people, now provides a more complete expression of the requirements and the expectations that exist between state and citizens in the modern Norwegian state.

This project explores the influence of the Norwegian Constitution on the notion of citizenship, and in particular the legal and political interplay between the Constitution and the development of the Norwegian welfare state. The notion of a social contrac t is of particular interest: What kind of social contract was established between the Norwegian state and its citizens with and by the 1814 Constitution? Might the egalitarian way of thinking, as expressed in the 1814 Constitution (prohibition of future l ordships, baronies and other aristocratic institutions) be seen as an important stepping stone for the development of the Norwegian welfare state and model of citizenship? The 1814 Norwegian Constitution contained provisions forbidding Jews, Jesuits and m onk orders access to the kingdom, thereby signifying a need to protect Norwegian society against particular foreign influences. What is the relationship between this protectionist attitude, egalitarianism and current modern welfare state policies and regu lations when it comes to immigrants? Norway has developed a strong welfare state built on universal social benefits. However, social rights are not protected as such in the Constitution. Thus, it seems that the Norwegian Constitution is not representat ive of the basic values and principles that characterize Norwegian society today. Based on this and other observations, the project will examine the relevance of the Norwegian Constitution for today´s national and international legal debates, and analyze the Norwegian Constitution in a comparative perspective with regard to content, structure and aims. Our ambition is to examine the Constitution in three contexts: The modern welfare state, international human rights and comparative law. All these contexts are essential for the understanding of the Norwegian Constitution and its status as the normative framework and legal infrastructure in Norway. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ------------------- Tillegg i forbindelse med søknad nr. 208381: Symposiet har til føremål å kombinere grunnlovsdebatt for eit allmeint publikum med rettsvitskapeleg gransking av aktuelle grunnlovsspørsmål og er det fyrste av tre slike planlagte satsinga r frå Det juridiske fakultet fram mot 1814. Tema for den fyrste dagen av dette fyrste symposiet er «Grunnloven og menneskerettighetene 1814-2014». Bakgrunnen er at Stortingets menneskerettsutval leverer sitt framlegg til revisjon av menneskerettane i Grun nlova i januar 2012. Innstillinga frå Menneskerettsutvalet vil bli presentert for eit allmeint publikum og deretter, truleg for fyrste gong, diskutert av leiande norske fagpersonar (sjå vedlagt program). På andre dagen av symposiet blir det rettsvitskapel ege perspektivet frå spørsmålet om revisjonen av menneskerettane i Grunnloven utvida til å omfatte andre aktuelle forfatnings-spørsmål. Dagen opnar, med forankring i diskusjonen frå fyrste dag, med ein presentasjon og diskusjon av dei sentrale forskingssp ørsmåla i «Grunnloven og velferdsstaten» som er fakul-tetets prosjekt under NFRs grunnlovssatsing. Programmet held vidare fram med tre tema som går på demokratiske utfordringar og dilemma i det norske samfunnet, jf. hovudtema 2 i den faglege planen for Gr unnlovssatsinga. Konkret er det den konstitusjonelle utviklinga i kom-parativt perspektiv, spørsmålet om grunnlovsfesting av kommunalt sjølvstyre og den for-fatningsrettslege stillinga til Noregs Bank som blir sett på agendaen i dette fyrste av tre planla gde symposium. Symposiet tek sikte på å nå ut til eit allmeint publikum med diskusjonen om revisjonen av menneskerettane i Grunnloven. I den breiare diskusjonen av demokratiske utfordringar og dilemma knytt til forfatninga på andre dagen av symposiet, er målet fyrst og fremst å generere rettsvitskapeleg forfatningsforsking av høg kvalitet innanfor område som i liten grad blir handsama under hovudprosjekta i NFRs Grunnlovssatsing. Tillegg i forbindelse med søknad nr. 227379: Symposiet har til føremål å kombinere grunnlovsdebatt for eit allmeint publikum med rettsvitskapeleg gransking av aktuelle grunnlovsspørsmål og er det andre av tre slike planlagte arrangement frå Det juridiske fakultet fram mot 1814. Arrangementet er programmert etter same lest som i fjor då meir enn 100 forskarar, byråkratar, studentar og politikarar fann vegen til symposiet. Tema er i år «Grunnlov, likskap og demokrati» og symposiet vil under denne tittelen løfte fram så vel rettshistoriske som dagsaktuelle problem som Grunnloven tek sikte på å regulere. Første del av symposiet har i år eit rettshistorisk perspektiv og tek utgangspunkt i likskapstanken frå 1814. Likskapstanken og prinsippet om folkesuverenitet vil her bli sett inn i ein historisk kontekst. Ved hjelp av rettsforsk arar og historikarar skal vi, i dialog med publikum, trekkje linjer bakover og framover i tid. Andre del av symposiet har eit dagsaktu

Funding scheme:

GRUNNLOV-Grunnlovsjubileet 2014