Demokratins librationspunkt : Om bibliotek på entreprenad i BBL och bis 2005-2011

Detta är en Master-uppsats från Uppsala universitet/Institutionen för ABM

Författare: Mikael Rydén; [2012]

Nyckelord: Folkbibliotek; entreprenad; demokrati; bildning; frihet; makt.;


The aim of this Master´s thesis is to examine the debate in Swedish library press concerning outsourcing of public libraries. The two magazines studied are BBL (Biblioteksbladet) and bis (bibliotek i samhälle). The period of time covered by the selected articles is 2005 to 2011. Although there are still quite few cases of tendering arrangements in Sweden, the question has been raised in the last years by the decision of the Municipality of Nacka (Stockholm) to outsource their public libraries. Another important factor for bringing the question into focus has been the general elections of 2006, which brought an alliance of right-wing parties to power.     

In this thesis the arguments of the participants are documented and analyzed. The premises of the arguments are also analyzed. The premises are equivalent to the ambiguous and mutually connected concepts of democracy, culture, freedom and power.

The results show that the debate is determined by what I call “the conventional concept of public libraries”. According to this concept, the role of a public library is to promote democracy. Democracy, then, is defined in a social liberal way. It is this view of the role of public libraries that is being defended by the opponents of tendering arrangements. Even the arguments of the advocates of outsourcing must be understood in light of  liberal democratic tradition. However, the advocates represent the neoliberal view of democracy, which makes them define the concepts of freedom and power in a different way compared to their antagonists.

Inspired by the theory of meaning proposed by Michael Dummett, I show that there are strong reasons for stating that the debate is won by the opponents of outsourcing. The word “public library” can only be used for a very specific kind of institution, provided that it is still meaningful. Furthermore, using the theory of power elaborated by the North American political and social theorist Steven Lukes, I also show that the arguments of the participants in the debate essentially are to be understood in light of the power that the participants claim is being exercised over the users by the two opposite ways of managing public libraries. Last of all, the debate can be seen as an expression of a secular liberal democratic discussion concerning the relation between the state, the market and the civil society.

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