This introductory chapter presents an overview of the Swedish welfare state and the theoretical frameworks that inform this study. It asserts that Sweden's economic development was the product of a miraculous welfare machine, and that the argument many make as to its progress is simple: homogeneity is good for welfare states, and heterogeneity is bad. Indeed, this outlook is further reinforced by the classic counterexample of the United States and the effects of heterogeneity on its own welfare-state growth. The chapter argues, however, that the links between ethnic homogeneity and the welfare state are contestable; understanding the relationship between ethnicity, race, and the welfare state, therefore, requires attention to how ethnicity enters into labor movements and into politics at the historical moments that matter for the welfare state's development.
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