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Reimagineering the Nation

Essays on Twenty-First-Century Sweden


Edited By Aleksandra Ålund, Carl-Ulrik Schierup and Anders Neergaard

This collection of essays offers a critical analysis of neoliberal transformation as it has unfolded in Sweden, long regarded as exemplary in terms of social welfare, equality and an inclusive multicultural democracy. The book presents a multidisciplinary exposition on Sweden, seen in a wider European perspective. It addresses changing frameworks of citizenship, welfare and democracy, migration and asylum, urban segregation and labour market segmentation and processes of securitization. It illuminates intersecting dimensions of class, gender and racialization and juxtaposes xenophobic populism with new social justice and antiracist movements on a changing political stage. Addressing a growing alignment with retrogressive illiberal policies across Europe, the volume exposes the reach of the adverse direction in which European «integration» is currently heading.

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4. Invisible, Burdensome and Threatening: The Location of Migrant Women in the Swedish Welfare State (Diana Mulinari / Åsa Lundqvist)


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Diana Mulinari & Åsa Lundqvist

4. Invisible, Burdensome and Threatening: The Location of Migrant Women in the Swedish Welfare State

Abstract: Gender equality is a hallmark for the Nordic welfare states. The chapter discusses how the category of migrant women has been conceptualised from the 1960s onwards. It relates to the connection between state policies and public-political discourses on family life on the one hand, and labour market participation on the other.


Gender equality as ideology and practice has informed policies in Sweden for almost half a century, especially by facilitating women and men to combine paid work and caring responsibilities. Thus, the notion of a ‘gender equal family’ has been a central theme in policy making from the 1960s onwards (Ellingsæter and Leira 2006; Nyberg 2012).

Gender equality policies, as first introduced, built upon a theoretical understanding of gender as a central principle of a hierarchical social organisation in which women and men were assumed to have unequal access to social and economic power – both in the labour market and the family (Leira 2002; Liljeström 1978). To change such inequities, policy reforms were implemented early on to level unequal gender relations, mainly through the individualisation of the welfare system and the inclusion of men in care work (Lundqvist 2011).

The outcomes of gender equality policies were however already critically examined by the 1970s and 1980s. Despite reforms, feminist scholars argued that...

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