Waving not drowning: Iceland, <i>kreppan</i> and alternative social policy futures

Zoë Irving

in Social Policy in Challenging Times

Published by Policy Press

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9781847428288
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447305521 | DOI:
Waving not drowning: Iceland, kreppan and alternative social policy futures

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Despite its relatively small size and supposed semi-peripherality, Iceland's place in the European context of financial crisis has been pivotal. Iceland was popularly regarded as a catalyst in the banking crisis, as its own three largest banks collapsed with repercussions throughout Europe and beyond, as well as within its own domestic political and economic borders. This widely reported ‘bankruptcy’ impacted not only on national policy, with International Monetary Fund intervention and consequent public spending concerns, but also on wider welfare via less direct effects such as the retirement planning of individual savers within other European countries and the corporate investments of British Local Authorities, for example. In responding to these circumstances, Iceland has demonstrated the largely unrecognised power of small states in the political and policy making arena. This chapter examines Iceland's exceptionalism in the comparative social policy context and assesses the implications of small-state adaptability for policy learning within the current global order.

Keywords: Iceland; small island states; exceptionalism; Nordic welfare model; economic crisis; banking collapse

Chapter.  8123 words. 

Subjects: Economic Sociology

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