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In Denmark, Finland and Sweden the evolution of administrative law, including social welfare law, has been marked by a shift towards a stronger protection of the recipient's individual rights. The adoption of activation policies targeting recipients of social assistance has highlighted the tensions between decision-making concerning the implementation of these policies and the legislative efforts to promote the realisation of individual rights in the field of social welfare. An examination of the legislation enacted in the three countries to apply activation policies and the indeterminacy of legal rules demonstrates the subordination of individual rights and increases the imbalance in power relations. Suggesting the promotion of a more egalitarian model of social citizenship based on interactive contexts of decision-making, this examination of the Nordic welfare system should be of broad international appeal. It will be of interest to researchers in social policy, as well as those concerned with protection of rights.