The state is a dominant player in many different markets, not least as a buyer or a seller or both. In addition, the state is an actor that creates, shapes and monitor markets. Governments decide whether markets may be opened or closed. Through mandatory and voluntary rules, the state generates frameworks for the function and development of markets. And by decisions of a range of different state organizations, companies, industries and markets are constantly affected, sometimes in decisive ways.

This subproject studies the Swedish government's surveillance of markets by trying to answer some major empirical questions: What does the state do – and how? And how have different activities developed in a historical perspective? The study represents a contemporary and (partly) historical survey of Swedish authorities with the objective to determine the different roles played by the central government in the interaction with and in monitoring markets. The concept of ‘monitoring’ is interpeted widely. It refers not only to rigorous monitoring and enforcement activities but also to other attempts by state authorities to organize markets, e.g. by creating rules and propagating ideas.

Although markets may intermittently ‘manage themselves’, it is obvious that no significant market is today allowed to do just that, and we can barely imagine how a literally ‘free’ market would look like. A fundamental observation is also that what many state organizations are and do is largely determined by the fact that their key activities relate specifically to markets – the characteristics of markets may thus determine state forms and contents. In the study we are discussing what might be called a ‘hybridisation’ of the societal coordination forms of state and market, a development that is changing the conditions for state organizations. The Market State – the sub-project´s working title – may well be an appropriate response.

The study is to be completed in 2010 and the results will be presented in a jointly written book as well as in several stand-alone articles and papers.