On of the most important changes in Swedish democracy over the last decades is the weakening of the political parties, by way of the decreasing number of unpaid politicians and shrinking membership numbers. The professionalization of politics has meant that new forms on influencing politics have gained increasing importance. In this multidisciplinary project we investigate a partly new and increasingly central group in this respect, which we call the ‘policy intellectuals’. These are persons that are employed in various forms and have as their occupation to do politics. With the term policy intellectuals, we do not mean that many elected representatives have become salaried, but the fact that they are employed without being elected. These people are to be found in the Government Offices of Sweden, in political parties at both European, national, regional, and local levels and within the party organizations in the Parliament. They are as well to be found in regional and municipal governments, in many interest-based organizations, and in some politically affiliated PR-bureaus and think tanks.

In this project, we aim to investigate the implications of the fact that an increasing number of people, appearing to have a decisive impact on the political agenda in Sweden, are people who, instead of being elected, are now employed to engage in different forms of politics.

Theoretically, this development towards a professionalization of political power raises a number of questions. The project aims to map and analyse the policy intellectuals and their role in a number of welfare state policy areas. Three aspects are particularly focused:

• The work of the policy intellectuals as a form of political influence: What resources are used in their work?
• The vocational and career choices of the policy intellectuals?
• The policy intellectuals as a group with a specific labour market

Apart from these three specific aims, we also aim for the project to contribute to a wider problem area, namely what this development may mean for the democratic form of government and its legitimacy.

The project is lead by Stefan Svallfors (Umeå University) in collaboration with Bo Rothstein (University of Gothenburg) and Christina Garsten. The project is financed by the Swedish Research Council and located at the Institute for Future Studies.