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Fighting the Financial Crisis: The Social Construction and Deconstruction of the Financial Crisis in Denmark

Elites on Trial

ISBN: 978-1-78441-680-5, eISBN: 978-1-78441-679-9

Publication date: 10 February 2015


This paper is concerned to show how the Danish political elite interpreted and responded to the consequences of the 2008 financial crisis for the Danish economy. In particular, the paper describes how this interpretive construction focused primarily on three features of the Danish context to the exclusion of other perspectives; the first was an emphasis on the problems of the financial sector, of interest rates and state finances; the second was that Danish productivity increases were falling behind other comparable countries and part of the solution required new strategies towards labour and unemployment benefits; thirdly, the adverse effects of the crisis were causing an increase in government expenditure and a decline in government revenues which was rapidly becoming unsustainable. As a consequence, the Danish elite fell into the broader interpretation of the crisis embedded in the dominant view within the EU institutions as well as among the international financial institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank, that a period of austerity and fiscal consolidation was the required remedy, even though this was likely to be pro-cyclical in its effects. However, the paper shows that alternative data which is more reflective of Denmark’s position in the global economy and the trajectory and form of its growth over the last decade reveals that the interpretation of the Danish elite has been too narrow and neglects the distinctive roots of Denmark’s competitive strengths. Indeed, by responding in the way which they have, the Danish elite is in danger of undermining the very conditions of Denmark’s competitiveness.



Kristensen, P.H. (2015), "Fighting the Financial Crisis: The Social Construction and Deconstruction of the Financial Crisis in Denmark", Elites on Trial (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 43), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 371-398.



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