Unequal Solidarity? Towards a Norm-critical Approach to Welfare Logics

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Due to the fact that immigration in Denmark is a more recent phenomenon, diversity management has had a much shorter history in politics as well as in business, and has not yet been institutionalized to the same degree as in for example North America, from where the concept originates. When crossing the Atlantic, the concept of diversity management merged with Danish universal welfare logics that offer a particular view on equality as sameness together with solidarity through corporate social responsibility. Drawing on 94 employee narratives about difference in a Danish workplace renowned for its diversity work, this article argues that a translation of the original American concept has taken place that turns diversity management into an ambiguous corporate activity when practised through Danish welfare logics. Paradoxically, corporate practices of social responsibility aimed at fostering equal opportunities obstruct successful labour-market integration, as differences are assimilated and marginalized rather than valued and respected. Economic redistribution is thus at the cost of recognition of difference contained in the business case of diversity. In this article we explore how difference can be reintroduced into the Danish welfare logics to balance the simultaneous need for redistribution and recognition of difference, which goes through aligning diversity management with critical scholarship by means of a norm-critical approach.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScandinavian Journal of Management
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)1–11
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017


  • Difference
  • Diversity management
  • Ethnic minority
  • Redistribution
  • Recognition
  • Welfare

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