Community-studies have a long tradition within European Ethnology. Almost without exception they have been neglecting the strong presence of public institutions
of the welfare state - despite the fact that various social security and insurance systems are such an important factor in local life. These are the offices people turn to when they are ill, require unemployment benefits, social assistance, and early retirement or disability pensions. They often provide the foundations for people to make a go of things where they live. Local communities on the other hand are not passively receiving support, but in a most intricate practice defining the actual outcome of the workings of the institutions. In this essay remuneration for illness in contemporary Sweden is used as an instrument for putting local culture in a new light. In a joint effort the macro-perspectives of political science is combined with the detailed cultural analysis of ethnology. EspeciaIly the emotional aspects of community-building are brought out.
Keywords: community, trust, social capital, bureaucracy, health, medicalisation