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Health care policies and resisting consumers in a prototypical welfare state

Anette Lykke Hindhede (School of Education, University of Aarhus, Copenhagen, Denmark)

Journal of Health Organization and Management

ISSN: 1477-7266

Article publication date: 1 November 2011




It has been argued by researchers from the Anglo‐Saxon nations that the rationality of the market has increasingly infiltrated the medical field. This paper seeks to enquire via policy analysis to what extent these principles have affected the prototypical welfare state of Denmark in relation to Danish hearing health policies.


The paper is based on qualitative methods comprising observations and interviews in two hearing clinics.


The paper shows that rather than a “withdrawal” of the state there has been a process of reform. The data suggest that a distinguishing mark of the consumer role on offer in Denmark is that, along with a free hearing aid, the Danish health consumer enjoys a range of rights and reciprocal responsibilities. The paper concludes that few of the hearing‐impaired patients were able to embrace the consumer ethos, and those who chose not to wear their prescribed hearing aids experienced the added burden of moral reproach.


It makes little sense to analyse abstracted rationalities without proceeding to analyse how they actually function in practice. This paper demonstrates empirically how and to what degree governmentality is embedded in social practice in two public hearing clinics in Denmark.



Lykke Hindhede, A. (2011), "Health care policies and resisting consumers in a prototypical welfare state", Journal of Health Organization and Management, Vol. 25 No. 5, pp. 549-563.



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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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