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Civic duty, Stasi society or Petty revenge: citizen reporting on tax cheating neighbors in Sweden and Denmark

Sampson, Steven LU (2014) Conference on Fiscal Sociology and the State p.1-15
Abstract
Both Sweden and Denmark have experienced an increase in the number of people informing the social and tax authorities that their neighbors are cheating on social benefits or earning illegal incomes through ‘black work’ (‘angiveri’ om social bedrageri eller sort arbejde). At the same time, many municipalities and the social and tax authorities have established hot lines or web portals where citizens can report cheating activity by their neighbors and even upload photos, also anonymously. Danish and Swedish media have commented on this tendency toward increased neighbor surveillance with headlines such as ‘Turn in Your Neighbor’ (‘Ange din granna!’) or ‘We Inform on Each Other like Never Before’ (‘Vi angiver hinanden som aldrig før!’).... (More)
Both Sweden and Denmark have experienced an increase in the number of people informing the social and tax authorities that their neighbors are cheating on social benefits or earning illegal incomes through ‘black work’ (‘angiveri’ om social bedrageri eller sort arbejde). At the same time, many municipalities and the social and tax authorities have established hot lines or web portals where citizens can report cheating activity by their neighbors and even upload photos, also anonymously. Danish and Swedish media have commented on this tendency toward increased neighbor surveillance with headlines such as ‘Turn in Your Neighbor’ (‘Ange din granna!’) or ‘We Inform on Each Other like Never Before’ (‘Vi angiver hinanden som aldrig før!’). Indeed, the number of complaints in Denmark has increased by 30% in just one year, while the Swedish social authorities received 10,000 complaints. This paper presents an overview of this ‘informer’ tendency: who informs on whom about what? How much of these complaints are legitimate, and how many ill-founded? It also discusses the media debate which interprets this tendency as a step toward a surveillance society (Stasi-society), while the public authorities are now asking the citizens to help catch cheaters. This new practice, where citizens are all policing each other challenges the Nordic model of social solidarity (sammenhængskraft) and trust in authorities. Is informing on your cheating neighbour a civic duty, or just petty revenge in a time of crisis? (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to conference
publication status
unpublished
subject
keywords
social anthropology, tax cheating, benefit fraud, welfare, Nordic model, social ethics, tax compliance, fiscal anthropology, fiscal sociology
pages
15 pages
conference name
Conference on Fiscal Sociology and the State
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
8077bbf9-db15-4bfa-ac87-f46928e313f8 (old id 5211980)
date added to LUP
2015-03-27 10:19:06
date last changed
2016-04-16 11:35:32
@misc{8077bbf9-db15-4bfa-ac87-f46928e313f8,
  abstract     = {Both Sweden and Denmark have experienced an increase in the number of people informing the social and tax authorities that their neighbors are cheating on social benefits or earning illegal incomes through ‘black work’ (‘angiveri’ om social bedrageri eller sort arbejde). At the same time, many municipalities and the social and tax authorities have established hot lines or web portals where citizens can report cheating activity by their neighbors and even upload photos, also anonymously. Danish and Swedish media have commented on this tendency toward increased neighbor surveillance with headlines such as ‘Turn in Your Neighbor’ (‘Ange din granna!’) or ‘We Inform on Each Other like Never Before’ (‘Vi angiver hinanden som aldrig før!’). Indeed, the number of complaints in Denmark has increased by 30% in just one year, while the Swedish social authorities received 10,000 complaints. This paper presents an overview of this ‘informer’ tendency: who informs on whom about what? How much of these complaints are legitimate, and how many ill-founded? It also discusses the media debate which interprets this tendency as a step toward a surveillance society (Stasi-society), while the public authorities are now asking the citizens to help catch cheaters. This new practice, where citizens are all policing each other challenges the Nordic model of social solidarity (sammenhængskraft) and trust in authorities. Is informing on your cheating neighbour a civic duty, or just petty revenge in a time of crisis?},
  author       = {Sampson, Steven},
  keyword      = {social anthropology,tax cheating,benefit fraud,welfare,Nordic model,social ethics,tax compliance,fiscal anthropology,fiscal sociology},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {1--15},
  title        = {Civic duty, Stasi society or Petty revenge: citizen reporting on tax cheating neighbors in Sweden and Denmark},
  year         = {2014},
}