Environment, risk and expertise

Proposer: Prof Lidskog, Rolf

Scientific advances, technological development and changes in risk consciousness have led to stronger demands on society to manage and control various kinds of risks. Risk should be assessed, prevented, governed and communicated in order to avoid severe negative impacts. Much thinking about risk management treats risks as separated from, and external to, its social context, thereby concealing the political and conflictual nature of risk issues. There are not only diverse definitions and understandings of risk, but the benefits and burdens of risk are unevenly distributed, socially, spatially and temporally.


This working group welcome papers that discusses environmental and risk issues in contemporary society. In line with the conference theme, studies on the Nordic welfare state are welcomed, and contributions ranging across different levels of analysis, theoretical approaches and methods.


Presentation preference: Preferable paper presentation – but also possibility to oral presentation (with no paper circulated beforehand)

Politics of Engagement in the Nordic Welfare State

Politics of Engagement in the Nordic Welfare State Coordinators: Eeva Luhtakallio, University of Helsinki, Finland, Veikko Eranti, University of Helsinki, Finland, Anna Lund, University of Stockholm, Sweden,


Today’s Nordic realities struggle with old and new troubles, myths and ideals: disputes over political projects, environmental crises, modes of incorporation and even everyday habits and routines reach unforeseen dimensions on multiple levels of social organisation. The resulting tendencies of radicalization, polarization, and tensions within and between national and local contexts invite us to pose anew the question “How to build commonality”. In other words: how to live together among unsolvable conflicts? How to adjust different ways of relating and belonging to the world, in order to create and maintain mutual understanding or, minimally, mutual bearing? How to build common ground while simultaneously acknowledging and reserving space for differing voices? How to coordinate societies based on multiple modes of valuation? These questions open avenues for analysing key cultural trends in Nordic welfare states including processes of politicization, participation, or marginalization. In addition, understanding the processes in which common ground is found – or lost – requires an approach that is anchored in situations, chains of events, and processes. It also emphasizes the material world not only as an immobile context, but a dynamic, and mobilizable, part of people’s efforts to live together. This session continues the project of pragmatic sociology, departing in but not restricted to eg. Laurent Thévenot’s sociology of engagement, in asking these questions. At the core of the project is taking seriously the critical capacity of ordinary actors: how critique is not confined within specific settings, but happens in everyday situations, at all levels of society. We welcome contributions on cultural and political sociology, with a broad range of empirical themes, in the Nordic countries and beyond.


Presentation preference: Paper presentation

Intersections of platforms, algorithms and modern work in the Nordic welfare state

Proposers: Adjunct Professor, Senior Research Fellow Seppo Poutanen (Turku, Finland) and Professor Anne Kovalainen (Turku, Finland)


Intersections of platforms, algorithms and modern work in the Nordic welfare state Algorithms have become mostly invisible part of the everyday life and its activities, with their power ranging from the mundane consumption to the working life and economy at large, and even to educational and work career choices. The use of digital tools at work and in social life, the monitoring power of algorithms, and the algorithmic management are currently all transforming the ways we work, the contents and processes of work on the digital labor platforms and in ‘traditional’ companies and public sector institutions. How do these transformations relate to /resonate in Nordic countries? What types of new inequalities arise in Nordic settings with the transformation of work and its organising? Work has been one of the most central themes in sociology for centuries. Weber’s work on professions and bureaucracy, Marx’s writings on formation of social classes and stratification, Durkheim’s analysis of moral communities and Parson’s recognition of relationship between professions and social order have formed the corpus for theoretical foundations in the research of work in social sciences. The contemporary alignments of work and technology in society and economy call for new analyses and narratives.


This session calls for papers that find it important to ask not only empirically but also theoretically informed questions of how and through what types of processes do the platforms and algorithms transform the work and its organizing in societies, and what types of skills and capabilities are required in the new work with algorithms at platforms, for example. In addition to empirical aspects, the session invites papers and presentations with wider scope that aim to gain theoretically laden understanding of the workings of platforms and algorithms in shaping the new governance blueprints of the modern society through technology. The session is open both for empirical and theoretical articles addressing the topics and intersections of platforms, algorithms and modern work in contemporary society.


Presentation preference: Paper presentation

A Care friendly and gender equal Nordic welfare State?

Proposers: Prof. Anne Kovalainen (Turku) and Prof. Hanne Marlene Dahl (Roskilde)


The Nordic societies and their states have increasingly been understood as care-friendly welfare states related to their universalism, inclusiveness and ‘reproduction going public’ of old age care, care for the sick, challenged and children. Collectively, the Nordic societies have also been understood as ‘women friendly’ states i.e., as a sort of feminist paradise enabling women to have active agency as workers, citizens, mothers and daughters. By many yardsticks of gender equality, that is true, despite some stubborn stalling in equality development. But, when looking at the realities of care and its multiple arrangements today in Nordic welfare regimes, we wonder whether the ‘women friendliness’ is a one-sided, and slightly outdated, narrative of our contemporary societies and states? Is there also another, less positive side of the Nordic welfare regimes?


This session invites papers about formalized and non-formalized care, various fields of care and care arrangements within the Nordic welfare states to reflect upon the criteria for deciding what constitutes (sufficient) care and defines a women friendly welfare state (or more gender equal). Theoretical and empirical papers focusing upon the intersections of care and gender (gendered aspects), universalism, the role of paid work and the state and other relevant dimensions of the theme of this session are welcomed.


Presentation preference: Paper presentation

Social Stratification

Proposer: Reimer, David

The session is co-organized together with Jani Erola (University of Turku;


The session focuses on quantitative research examining social stratification, in particular those forms that create systematic inequality between different social groups. The social groups researched may be based on social origin, education, class, income, wealth, gender, migrant status, ethnicity or marital status, for example. The stream invites presentations that aim to explain differences between groups and how inequality changes over time and/or accumulates over the life course, as well as presentations that examine the intergenerational transmission of status and social mobility. Cross-nationally comparative studies that examine the influence of social structures and institutions, such as different aspects of the welfare state or educational system, on stratification and inequality are also encouraged.


Presentation preference: Paper presentation is the preferred format

Institutional Ethnography

Proposer: Jahreie, Josefine


We, Rebecca Lund and Josefine Jahreie are submitting a proposal for five sessions on Institutional Etnography at NSA: 1) One Panel Discussion/Roundtable: Future Prospects for Institutional Ethnography in the Nordics Institutional Ethnography is a method of inquiry, originally developed by Canadian sociologist Dorothy Smith, to challenge processes of objectification in mainstream sociology and explicate how the social is coordinated in textually mediated relations. This roundtable will consist of contributing authors to the anthology Institutional Ethnography in the Nordic Region (Lund and Nilsen, 2019), the recent special issue on institutional ethnography published in the Norwegian Journal of Sociology 1/22, and the forthcoming Norwegian anthology on Institutional Ethnography as Practice (Cappelen Damm). Participants will discuss how institutional ethnography can be utilized to describe the relations and the work constituting Nordic Welfare state functions, and how this confirms with as well as challenges dominant perceptions and discourses about the Nordic welfare state and sociology in the Nordic region. 2) Four paper sessions (4 papers per session): Institutional Ethnography: The Social Organization of Knowledge (themes and session coordinators will be specified once we have received abstracts) Institutional Ethnography is a method of inquiry, originally developed by Canadian sociologist Dorothy Smith, to explicate the institutional organization of social interaction. Inquiry starts from everyday experience and action, and moves from there to unpack how these experiences were shaped in text mediated ruling relations. We invite empirical studies and theoretical explorations, drawing on and discussing Institutional Ethnography. We very much encourage work-in-progress.


Presentation preference: One session of roundtable presentations and paper presentations and four sessions of paper presentations

Cognitive Sociology

Organizers: Tuukka Kaidesoja, University of Helsinki Mikko Hyyryläinen, University of Helsinki Ronny Puustinen, University of Jyväskylä


There has been a growing interest to investigate the cognitive aspects of social and cultural phenomena within different research fields in sociology and other social sciences. This recent research at the intersection of cognitive sciences and social sciences has been diverse in its content and methodology. For instance, some sociologists have identified themselves as “cognitive social scientists” and aimed to integrate concepts and methods from the cognitive sciences to sociological research in order to understand and explain the microfoundations of various social and cultural phenomena. Another group of sociologists has aimed to complement cognitive scientific research by means of applying sociological concepts and interpretive methods to the social and cultural aspects of cognitive processes. This session is open to presentations that address the cognitive aspects of all kinds of social and cultural phenomena. This includes but is not limited to theoretical and empirical research on the cognitive aspects of the myths of the Nordic welfare states, political conflicts, social movements, face-to-face interaction, collective memory, climate change denial, markets, social media, moral judgements, ethnicity, identity, ideology and religion. Our session also welcomes research concerning the social and cultural aspects of basic cognitive processes ─ such as perceiving, classification, inferring, decision-making, remembering and imaging. Our assumption is that identification and characterization of various cognitive processes are important for the proper understanding of many social and cultural phenomena. We also believe that sociologists’ contributions are needed for the interdisciplinary research on human cognition to flourish. Since the nature and direction of cognitive sociology is still under debate, the session also welcomes presentations that address conceptual, methodological, ontological and institutional issues pertaining to the growing field of cognitive sociology. The language of the session is English.


Presentation preference: Workshop (i.e. presentations and discussion)


Towards a Sociology of the #Metoo movement

 Proposer: Salmonsson, Lisa


Nordic countries are often seen and projected as being more progressive than other countries in the world when it comes to gender equality. Upon close scrutiny, reality does not quite match up to the public image, or ‘myth’ of gender equality. For instance, Nordic dads still only take up to one-third of paid parental leave (see for example Karu & Tremblay 2018). Similarly, there is still a significant gap between women and men when it comes to time spent on unpaid housework (Swedish Gender Equality Authority 2022). The Nordic countries also have disproportionally high prevalence rates of intimate partner violence (IPV) against women (Garcia and Merlo 2016). It is fair to say that even though the Nordic countries might be doing better than some other countries, The Nordics still have a long way to go if it want to be the feminist paradise that it is often depicted as. This discrepancy between the image of the Nordic countries and the experienced reality of people living and working in them might be one possible explanation for why the #MeToo Movement gained so much support and had such a social impact in most of the Nordic countries.

As fresh instances of stories of gender-based violence continue to keep the #Metoo movement an ongoing force in the Nordic countries, there is a renewed interest in the nature of this movement itself. Between its digital, legal, social, communitarian, and philosophical/ideological aspects, it is often difficult to categorise the #MeToo movement as a social movement or in sociological terms. Even though it has been studied in terms of “cascades” (Sunstein, 2021) of individual and collective participation, and in terms of “connective and collective” action (Bennett and Segerberg, 2012) especially in its digital aspect (Li, 2021), the movement has not been comprehensively mapped in sociological terms. This session aims to address and begin to fill this lacuna.

We therefore want to initiate a sociological imagination around the #Metoo movement from a Nordic perspective. For instance, we assume that it is not coincidental that feminist movements in the Nordic countries have been historically embedded in the unions and social justice systems of the welfare state system. Organisational aspect such as the response of private and public organisations to the #MeToo initiated stories of sexual harassment to be part of this trajectory but also the social systems that enabled the solidarity between women from different areas of society and walks of life (from actors to cleaners for examples). The revival of the feminist dedication to activism and reform was also an important and possible indicator of social change. We might also need to problematise who were included and excluded in the movement regarding social class, ethnicity, ability, sexuality, and gender. We invite papers on the topics mentioned above and hope that this session will be a starting point for a more sociological understanding of the #MeToo movement.


Presentation preference: Paper presentation (and one round table)

Policy interplays in Nordic welfare states: Understanding relationships between policy (sub)fields

Proposer: Dr. Nieuwenhuis, Rense


Nordic welfare states have long been characterized as ideal-typical examples of the social-democratic model, with universal provisions and high degrees of equality along multiple dimensions. Yet, Nordic welfare states are changing, with social policy moving in multiple (and perhaps sometimes contradictory) directions. Although sociological research has become increasingly specialised in different social policy subareas (i.e. family policy, pensions, social assistance, activation, etc), a more comprehensive understanding of change and continuity in the Nordic welfare states can perhaps be achieved by considering how different types of policies combine and affect our societies. In this session, we return to the broader institutional context in which policies are implemented. We invite papers that explicitly address the intersection of multiple social policy (sub)fields and the embeddedness of policies in broader institutional configurations. Are the Nordic governments more likely to simultaneously introduce changes in multiple policies, rather than one by one on a more adhoc and piecemeal basis? Have changes in the Nordic welfare model created new forms of synergies between different types of policies, or are conflicting objectives in social policy emerging. Have changes in different social policy areas amplified each other and created inequalities in unexpected ways? Both quantitative and qualitative papers are welcome, likewise comparative perspectives (among the Nordic welfare states, or comparing the Nordic countries to other welfare states) or single case approaches. For inspiration, scholars might draw on the concepts of policy complementarities, policy substitution, and welfare pluralism. Policy complementarity suggests policies can be more effective in the context of other policies. Substitution, on the other hand, suggests policies are rendered less effective by other aspects of the institutional context, although policy substitution has received substantially less attention in the literature. Welfare pluralism, finally, refers to the notion that policies can address very different problems, or different target groups. While a given policy might not influence the effectiveness of another policy, they can work together to achieve a common outcome.


Presentation preference: Paper Presentation

Occupational health and wellbeing in times of crisis

Proposer: Associate Prof. Sigursteinsdottir, Hjordis


The outbreak of COVID-19 has caused an unprecedented worldwide crisis with dramatic implications across several societal levels. Besides the concerns related to the propagation of the disorder, many critical economic and societal challenges have been raised. The restrictions imposed to reduce the propagation of the disorder lead to an increased social distancing between individuals with potential implications for occupational health and wellbeing. In such a context, it is relevant to understand the domains affected by the pandemic and investigate which aspects may mitigate pandemic-related adverse effects on health and wellbeing at work. This session focus on health and wellbeing in the workforce within the context of crisis, such as the global COVID-19 pandemic and the post-pandemic era. Topics of interest include, among other things, descriptions of the physical and mental wellbeing of employees; work-related stress and burnout; psychosocial risk factors; experiences of particular occupational groups and sectors; organisational interventions for workforce support; the engagement of managers in workplace health initiatives; interventions to implement the promotion and protection of health, safety and wellbeing of all employees.


Presentation preference: Paper presentation

Myths and realities of gambling in the Nordic countries

Proposer: Dr. Soc. Sc. Egerer, Michael


Session co-organisers: Søren Kristiansen, University of Aalborg, Johanna Järvinen-Tassopoulos, National Institute of Health and Welfare, Virve Marionneau, University of Helsinki, Anita Borch, Oslo Metropolitan University, Jessika Spångberg, Stockholm University,


Gambling has been a prominent part of many classical texts from Georg Simmel’s essay on the philosophy of adventure and Thorstein Veblen’s analysis of the leisure class to Roger Caillois’ sociology of play and Richard Geertz’s analysis of the societal function of gambling in his landmark study on Balinese Cockfighting. More recently, a number of contemporary sociologicallyoriented gambling scholars, most prominently maybe professor Gerda Reith with her groundbreaking monograph ‘Age of Chance’, have developed the sociology of gambling further by applying social theory and by developing a sociological understanding further. These scholars have also showed that analysing gambling sociologically can deepen our understanding of key aspects of contemporary societies. Gambling is a thoroughly sociological subject and it intertwines with many contemporary sociological discussions such as discourses of consumer capitalism, the risks of late modernity, gender and family. Integrating gambling as a central research topic in sociology will not only benefit gambling studies, it benefits sociological theory and understanding of how individuals act within specific societal configurations and how societies relate to gambling. The prevalence of gambling is high in Nordic societies and the Nordic regulatory gambling regimes are often considered as particularly successful ones, serving as role model for other countries and regions. At the same time, gambling has also been identified as a facilitator of societal inequalities. What makes the topic of gambling sociologically even more relevant is the role of the gambling revenue in supporting charities and good causes, or in the case of the Nordic countries in substituting services, which could be genuinely understood as core functions of the Nordic welfare state model. This session will look into the practicalities, myths and realities of gambling in the Nordic countries, their regulatory systems, the relationship between gambling and the welfare state, and social theoretical applications to the issues of gambling.


Presentation preference: Paper presentation

New Perspectives on Corporatism, Democracy, and Labor Market

Proposer: Levä, Ilkka


According to Vesa et al. (2018), corporatism has varying importance in Finland and Denmark. Even in Sweden, massive transformations regarding the nature of corporatism (decorporatisation) have taken place (Lewin 1994; Lindwall & Sebring 2005). Therefore, it is crucial to study how corporatism has influenced the atmosphere of post-industrial working life in Nordic countries. Vesa et al. think that the distinction between corporatism and pluralism still is a functional tool for analysis.

Corporatism has been very adaptable. However, according to some researchers, there are some permanent blind spots in the corporatist system, such as gender equality, precarious work and platform economy, labor market newcomers, and all in all, the questioning of the work society itself. Transformation of the work lies behind all these hardships of corporatism.

We welcome papers both on the strengths & successes and the blind spots & weaknesses of corporatism. Papers can be empirically or theoretically orientated or new openings from diverse multidisciplinary intersections (sociology, history, philosophy, working life research, literature theory).


Presentation preference: Paper presentation

New Perspectives on the Nordic Paradox of Secularization and Religious Diversity

Proposer: Willander, Erika


At the turn of the millennium, the religious and moral opinions in the Nordic countries were surveyed for a project called Religious and Moral Pluralism (RAMP). Based on the results, Gustafsson and Pettersson (2000) depicted the Nordic region as a paradox of declining Nordic folk churches and growing religious diversity. Nearly a quarter of a decade later we ask – is a paradox still a valid description of the Nordic countries? If so – what are the social consequences of the paradoxical state? We broadly invite papers sociologically analyzing contemporary expression of the religious and its counterparts in the Nordic countries.
The session acknowledges that the Nordic paradox was formulated at a time when the secularization thesis was widely acknowledged and accepted by Nordic sociologists of religion (Gustafsson 2005, Beckford 2006). Neither Peter L. Berger’s withdrawal of his own secularization theory (1999) nor José Casanova’s deconstruction of secularization theories (1994) had been implemented. Moreover, Meredith McGuire (2008) and Nancy Ammerman (2006) had not introduced the lived religion approach to sociological studies of religion. Together, these perspectives have nuanced the sociological study of religion in the Nordic countries. For the session, we therefore invite interpretations of religious change that engage with theories published during the last twenty years.

Additionally, the session recognizes that analyses on survey data from the Nordic research site often have been influenced by presumptions of religious decline (Gustafsson 2005, Beckford 2006, Willander 2020). Empirical observations not fitting this pattern have been ignored and alternative patterns of religious practice have largely been left unstudied. For the session, we therefore invite papers that analyze survey data from the Nordic countries in new ways and from new perspectives. We welcome both theoretical and methodological innovation. In particular, we invite scholars interested in the study of secularity and non-religion and its links to major and minor forms of religion. We also wish to emphasize new studies of religious diversity.


Presentation preference: Paper presentation and one roundtable presentation

Household preparedness and the Nordic Welfare State

Proposer: Kvarnlöf, Linda


The interest in household preparedness, meaning citizens crisis preparedness at home, has expanded heavily during the last decade – both in terms of research, politics and policies. Thus, household preparedness can be understood as a growing area of empirical research where levels of preparedness are studied and measured. However, and as emphasized by several social scientists from this field of research, household preparedness can also be understood as a political phenomenon: as a consequence and expression of changes in welfare politics and social security policies. Since the beginning of 2000, social security policies as well as Nordic welfare politics in general has increasingly emphasized the importance of individual responsibility, where individuals and households are expected to care for their own safety and well-being (Larsson, 2019). As a consequence of this social and political development, crisis preparedness has increased its influence in the private sphere as it has literally moved into our homes (Kvarnlöf & Montelius, 2020).

However, the growing interest in household preparedness is far from a new phenomenon. Rather, it is a revival of the kind of civil defense culture that characterized both World War II and the Cold War era. Both then and now, it becomes clear how a society’s crisis preparedness is closely intertwined with political tradition, culture and history (Bennesved & Norén, 2020). For example, research have shown how (the Swedish) civil defense rhetoric during the Cold War era framed the Cold War as a threat towards the Swedish folkhemmet and the values and ideal associated with this way of life. The 1960’s Cold War rhetoric has been described as an encounter between the cold war and the warm welfare – where the first mentioned was to be fought through the order, safety and control that once characterized the (Swedish) welfare state (Cronqvist, 2012). In summary, this emphasizes the need to understand both historical and current household preparedness discourses and practices in the light of the welfare state that surrounds them.

The ongoing revival of household preparedness raises a number of critical questions that needs to be addressed, for example: Which conceptions of ‘preparedness’ and ‘household’ dominate current social security discourses and which conceptions are made invisible? How can such conceptions be understood in relation to welfare politics and power relations such as class, gender, ethnicity, functionality and age? This session welcomes papers that deals with both the practices and discourses of household preparedness, as well as how such practices and discourses relates to the politics of Nordic Welfare States.


Presentation preference: Paper Presentation

Impact, social sciences, and dialogue for democracy in the Nordics


Proposer: PhD candidate Huttunen, Katriina


In the Nordic countries – as well as more globally – evidence-based decision-making and the impact of social sciences are highlighted more and more by the political decision makers and funding institutions, but also in the public discussion. This working group addresses the possibilities and tensions stemming from the dialogue between academic researchers and policy-makers, as well as the requirement for impactful and measurable outcomes of social science. How does this dialogue advance or hamper democratic decision-making in society? How do different epistemologies -and ontologies- within the academia – and within the social sciences (e.g. feminist and decolonial) address this request for impact? What is the space for the integration of other, often marginalized ways of knowing and producing legitimate knowledge (e.g. southern, indigenous, anti-racist, feminist, queer, practitioner and tacit knowledge), both inside and outside the academia? This working group calls for different ways of thinking about knowledge that matters. It invites presentations that may be theoretical or methodological, plans for future, works in progress or final products.


Presentation preference: Paper presentation

Uncovering peripheries: geographies of rural welfare policies and local well-being


Proposer: Bucaite Vilke, Jurga


The aim of the session discusses the issues of welfare policies design, institutional architecture, and services implementation mechanisms as options for rural regions in different countries. The session is motivated by the argument that there is an under-researched relation between territorial inequalities in peripheral rural regions and development of local welfare policy arrangements and policy capacities that make impact on local welfare situation in terms of access to public services and local well-being. In all European countries, there are regions that experience population decline, unfavorable social and economic development and where residents consequently have limited access to the public goods and services. Emerging gaps between rural and urban areas reduce life chances of women, men and children residing in the peripheral areas. So-called ‘inner peripheries’ is an issue of growing political concern in Europe, however, the processes that drive marginalization as well as the forces that could help societies overcome the marginalization are still poorly understood (ESPON 2017).


Previous findings have demonstrated the significant relationship between welfare regimes and social policy arrangements and territorial inequalities, for example, regional disparities analysis in Nordic countries (Sellers et al, 2016, Rodríguez-Pose, et al. 2010; Baldersheim, 2006, Eydal, Gíslason, 2014). One of the most crucial questions that concerns researchers and policy makers are the ways of resolving socioeconomic inequality in different regions by modifying local welfare policy arrangements applied to local needs. The session focuses on cross-national perspective that discusses not only the systematic welfare policy constraints, but also the local potential within the different state welfare contexts and socioeconomic settings.


The main question is about what regional, municipal authorities and local non-governmental actors can do to reduce socioeconomic inequalities in rural regions and what policymaking strategies should be implemented to help localities to sustain affordable welfare and family services. Welfare policy instruments, like education, family work-life reconciliation, employment, and fiscal policies, play the crucial role in making the opportunities and resources more accessible. Local actors capable of activating local welfare policies might include voluntary organizations, individual initiatives, communities, municipal entities and businesses. The session welcomes papers that discuss different welfare policies modifications, community innovations and service provision options suitable for rural areas, for example, employmentcentred family policies, gender policies, active labor market, related work-family life reconciliation measures, early childhood education and care (ECEC) and others.


The papers will present both literature research and empirical studies, and the session will discuss the topics in a comparative way with colleagues all over Europe. The session welcomes papers that compare studies from the rural development and local welfare policy design experiences (and experiments) from the other European states.


Presentation preference: Paper presentation

Nordic Social Science from a global perspective

Proposer: Professor Oinas, Elina Type:


The session invites papers on Nordic sociology and social science viewed from a global sociology perspective: how do we situate, for example, the Nordic welfare state social science research in a global context? How do we develop more globally connected sociology that still speaks to the empirical concerns of the Nordic welfare state? How does Nordic sociology address the broader colonial and imperial traditions of Modernity in ways that are relevant for our work? The session is especially interested in papers that explore ways Nordic sociology has responded to the calls to decolonize academic knowledge production and traditions. Are there conceptual or theoretical developments in de/postcolonial research that are specifically Nordic? How do we challenge the legacy that claims that Nordic countries have “long been held up as ideal societies” (by whom? where? in what ways is such an assumption a racializing claim?): what would a shift in register around an alleged Nordic excellence entail? The papers can be theoretical and empirical, and do not necessarily need to focus specifically on the welfare state, sociology or the present.


Presentation preference: paper presentations

Active gender equality and diversity policies in the Nordic countries

Proposer: Dr. Reisel, Liza and Silander, Charlotte


The Nordic countries rank high on international comparisons of gender equality in social, economic, and political arenas (e.g., World Economic Forum 2021). Thirty years ago, Hernes (1987) had already indicated the importance of the state for achieving gender equality, and she defined the Nordic welfare states as potentially “women friendly societies.” The Nordic countries have a history of progressive national legislation to promote gender equality in the labor market, including laws that require employers to take proactive measures and contribute to work–family reconciliation (e.g., Bergqvist et al. 2001). In recent decades, comprehensive legislation and the use of active measures to support gender equality have been supplemented and expanded to include other discrimination grounds such as ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation. In addition, ‘gender mainstreaming’ has been introduced as an overall strategy, which typically means that equal opportunities, equal treatment, and gender perspectives should be systematically integrated into decision making processes, organizations, programs, policies and practices. In short, the aim of mainstreaming is to counteract gender bias within existing systems and structures (Squires 2005). As national (and pan-national) policies on active equality work has expanded to include other discrimination grounds, so has mainstreaming become all the more complex. This session calls for papers addressing the different ways in which mainstreaming, active measures and duties to report on equality and diversity work has been conceptualized and implemented the Nordic countries. We invite papers that take a comparative perspective, as well as country case studies at various levels of implementation and/or in various societal arenas. Investigations can be qualitative or quantitative, including, but not limited to, policy analysis, effect studies, and implementation studies.


Presentation preference: Paper presentation

The sociology of chronic illness

Proposer: Dr. Grabowski, Dan and Olesen, Kasper


In Nordic welfare states chronic illness is increasingly treated and managed outside of traditional health care facilities. With approximately a third of the population in the Nordic countries living with at least one chronic illness, the role of social settings in civil societies, such as families, local communities and work places, becomes of increasing importance for prevention and management of chronic illness. Sociology of chronic illness has an untapped potential to explore, describe and intervene in the conditions and possibilities when living with chronic illness. Because of the shared cultural, geographical, and social features across the Global North we propose a stream focusing on current and future research in the unsettled field of sociology of chronic illness in and especially outside the traditional health care setting. Parson’s classic theory on sick roles (1951) demonstrated that the sick role is embedded in social processes and assumptions about what is right and wrong. In the case of acute illness e.g. the sick person is granted exemption from normal roles and responsibilities. But what happens when the sick role is permanent and when it is played out outside of the traditional healthcare setting e.g. in the family setting or the work place setting? As problematized by the Danish sociologist Dorte Gannik the conceptual distinction between experienced illness and diagnosed disease has made it possible to make analyses of illness in one dimension without link to the expression of the disease in the other dimension. This distinction or sociological doubling of the disease concept may be more problematic than fruitful. Questions relating to identity processes, selfunderstandings and social imaginaries in relation to illness and health are also of central concern within sociology of chronic illness. How do these mechanisms affect the way we understand ourselves in the context of complex societies?


Burning questions include:

  • How can a situational/social understanding of chronic illness contribute to research and practice?
  • What are the opportunities and barriers for civil society (e.g. family, work place, local community) in mitigating the burden of chronic illness?
  • How can sociology of chronic illness transcend the distinction between subjective, sociocultural illness and biomedical disease?


Form of the session: The aim of the stream is to bring people together to share ideas and knowledge, discuss research, and pool information and resources related to the overarching theme of sociology of chronic illness. We propose a stream welcoming abstracts for both oral presentations and workshops. We welcome both empirically, methodologically and theoretically oriented contributions.


Possible session themes include but are not limited to: The sociology of chronic illness in the family setting, (e.g. emerging autonomy in youth with chronic illness), stigma related to chronic illness, chronic illness in a life-course perspective, management and prevention of chronic illness in civil societies. Selection of papers will be based on peer-review. We will however attempt to include all relevant papers of high quality and will be open to adjust the number of sessions accordingly.


Presentation preference:  Paper presentation – Roundtable presentation

What can or should sociology do for students, teachers and society?

Proposer: Lundberg, Janna


This explorative workshop session welcomes papers elaborating on the possibilities of Sociology as an academic discipline. What can and should Sociology do? Is a “Public sociology” the best option, or is there a need for a new sociological imagination (Burawoy 2005; Mills 1959)? Whom is sociology for (Gouldner 1973)? This session address issues concerning what students in Sociology learn. How can the subject make an impact in students’ lives and teachers’ situation? How can Sociology affect society as a whole? Does Sociology have potential of bringing back the Nordic welfare state of equality, or can Sociology lead to other ways of organizing an equal society? Is there a place for research and education to be politically radical or activist orientated, or should the political part be left aside? How can sociology and social justice work together within the academy (Ahmed 2012)? What are the benefits and downsides to a political versus an a-political stance when researching and teaching Sociology (Mouffe 2005)? The need for Sociology in today’s Nordic welfare state is the subject for this explorative workshop session. Both theoretical and empirical focused studies are welcomed. Within the workshop we wish to compare examples of how sociological education and research is constructed within the university, with theoretical reasoning on how sociology should be constructed.


Presentation preference: Workshop

The geography of socioeconomic inequalities and social mobility

Proposer: Lintunen, Lotta and Pöyliö, Heta


Recently there’s been an increased interest in the within-country geographical aspect of inequality and socioeconomic mobility among sociologists and economists. These studies suggest that institutional, political, environmental, and socioeconomic factors that are embedded in geography act a major role in the reproduction of inequalities and social class. In other words, the inequalities that occur within and between societies, families, and individuals are linked into the spatial context of institutions and structures. Nordic countries are geographically vast and sparsely populated, with sometimes hour-long distances to the nearest industrial hub and university city. They are also often quoted as the most equal countries with thriving educational systems and high levels of socioeconomic mobility. Considering the geographically distributed services and educational institutions in the Nordic countries, does the promise of equal chances become fulfilled for everyone, regardless of where they live while growing up? We welcome contributions for oral presentations, that address the questions on geographical inequalities within the areas of education, occupation, income/resources, and social mobility. The main focus of this session is on quantitative research. We aim to bring together researchers that are interested in questions such as does social origin matter differently for educational achievement, educational attainment, occupation, or income, depending on the area of living? Or how the area of living interacts with social origin and adulthood outcomes? The session organizers will conduct a blind review and ranking of the proposals, selecting 4 to 8 papers (1-2 sessions) for presentations depending on the amount and quality of the submissions.

Presentation preference: Paper presentation

Should I Stay or Should I Go? Young people’s everyday life in rural areas in the Nordic Welfare State

Proposer: Østergaard, Jeanette and Pless, Mette


There are many myths about young people growing up in rural areas in the Nordic Welfare countries. But what are the realities of their everyday lives? And how do young people reflect on their future possibilities provided by the universalistic welfare systems? Recent studies have drawn attention to the increasing social and geographical inequalities that continually divide rural from urban areas in all the Nordic countries. As statistics document, young people in rural areas have fewer opportunities in regards to further education and employment than young people living in urban areas. Furthermore, moving away from family and friends is often required for youth in pursuit of future educational and employment possibilities. This can leave young people in dilemmas about staying or leaving.

This session follows a recent international trend that argues for the need to place greater attention to the spatial dimensions of youth transition in relation to their future. In doing so we want to focus on the tradition in most but not all Nordic countries of researching rural life. This session thus invites paper presentations that aim at understanding the everyday lives of young people who choose to stay in rural areas. What characterises their transition to adulthood, what opportunities do they have, how do they envision their future, what are their dreams for the future and what challenges do they associate with staying or leaving?

We welcome paper presentations that reflect on how friendships, family, gender, and inequality (poverty) influence young people’s understanding of staying or leaving in rural areas in the Nordic countries. This entails questions like how do young people perceive of, and experience, belonging to the places in which they live, and how does growing in up in geographically and economically disadvantaged areas influence young people’s future perspective on establishing lives of their own. Do they feel or fear spatialised inequality and downward mobility (e.g. new forms of territorial stigmatisation) or are they optimistic about their future possibilities?

The session welcomes paper presentations based on both qualitative and quantitative studies.

Presentation preference:

Paper presentation

Health and well-being

Proposer: Ólafsdóttir, Sigrún


Health, Illness and healing is a topic of core sociological concern. This session is open to all papers that focus on health from a sociological perspective. Papers that relate to the theme of the myths and realities of the Nordic welfare state are particularly welcome.


Presentation preference:

Paper presentation

Disaster sociology: Nordic perspectives

Proposer: Eydal, Guðný Björk


The topic of the session is Nordic perspectives on disaster sociology. We welcome both theoretical and empirical contributions. Disasters are increasing in numbers and the importance of disaster sociology is growing, thus it is important to take the stock of the Nordic sociological research in the field.


Presentation preference:

Paper presentations


Proposer: Jóhannsdóttir, Ásta


In this section a broad, interdisciplinary and intersectional perspective on sexualities will be explored. We welcome all papers on the subject of sexualities and human sexual experience – including but not exclusively on topics around, disability, gender, race, queerness, sex and sex education.


Presentation preference: Paper presentation

Social Inequality

Proposer: Ragnarsdóttir, Berglind


Social stratification and the unequal distribution of resources, opportunities and privileges is a topic of core sociological concern. This session is open to all papers that focus on social inequality. Papers that relate to the theme of the myths and realities of the Nordic welfare state are particularly welcome.


Presentation preference:

Paper presentation

Nordic Welfare States

Proposer: Oddsson, Guðmundur


This session is open to all papers that focus on the Nordic countries from a sociological perspective. Papers that relate to the theme of the myths and realities of the Nordic welfare state are particularly welcome.


No presentation preference.

Romantic love and love relations – Myths and realities

Proposer: Magnusdottir, Berglind Ros


Under the realm of critical studies, there is an open call for the sociology of love in postmodern times. Sexual or romantic love is now seen as an important topic in social science, both among non-feminist and feminist scholars.


The focus can be on

  1. a) Love as a subject and a discourse; how it is socially and culturally manifested
  2. b) Love as a practice in the making and maintaining of intimate relationships in specific contexts and among certain groups
  3. c) Love and negative relations in the world of scopic capitalism (Eva Illouz)
  4. d) Social parameters of love explored through quantitative databases
  5. e) love as a force of human power and how love power is utilized and exploited (A.G. Jónasdóttir) in the hook-up culture and intimate relationship.
  6. f) Love and love relations in cyberspaces


Presentation preference: Paper presentation

Environmental sociology

Proposer: Bjarnadóttir, Sóllilja


Environmental sociology is a growing topic within sociology because of all the environmental problems we are facing. This session is open to all papers that focus on environmental issues from a sociological perspective. Papers that relate to the theme of the myths and realities of the Nordic welfare state are particularly welcome.


No presentation preference.

Gender and family

Proposer: Arnalds, Ásdís


This session is open to all papers that focus on gender and family from a sociological perspective. We therefore welcome papers on family matters, the gendered nature of parenthood, and other gendered practices. Papers that relate to the theme of the myths and realities of the Nordic welfare state are highly appreciated.


Presentation preference: Paper presentation

Urban and rural sociology: Oppositions, intersections and synergies

Proposer: Bjarnason, Thoroddur


Urban sociology and rural sociology have developed as parallel intellectual universes based on different theoretical premises, interdisciplinary spaces, and public policy domains. In a sense, contemporary sociology has inherited and reinforced the opposition between traditional rural communities and modern urban societies explicitly proposed by classical theorists such as Tönnies, Durkheim and Simmel and more implicitly assumed by e.g. Comte, Marx and Weber. While a razor-sharp distinction between urban and rural resonates well with a multitude of imageries in popular culture, the vast majority of people live neither in Gotham city nor the Ingalls farmstead. The forces of modernization and globalization have transformed spaces and places alike, eroding earlier spatial configurations of home, workplace, neighborhood and community, as well as obliterating the dependency of cultural diversity on local population density. This session will provide a forum for presenting and discussing contributions to urban, rural, or spatial sociology in the Nordic context and beyond. Contributions that focus on the intersection of urban and rural sociology are particularly welcome.


Presentation preference: Paper presentation

Local and translocal (im)mobilities in a Nordic context

Proposer:Bjarnason, Thoroddur


Contemporary mobilities have transformed interpersonal relations, local communities, regions, nation states and global structures. Technological advances have enabled global and local flows of people, capital, products, and information, undermining the sovereign nation state as the fundamental context of economic, cultural, political, and social life. In the process, the association between nation states, nations and ethnic groups has becomes increasingly complex. While some countries and segments of their populations enjoy almost frictionless mobilities, others are characterized by various forms of immobility and/or forced mobility. Earlier differences and relations between urban and rural have also been disrupted and transformed as education, work and leisure, social relations have become less attached from a particular place. This session welcomes theoretical and empirical studies of local and translocal (im)mobilities relevant to the Nordic countries. Topics may include but are not limited to immigrant or minority communities in the Nordic countries, Nordic diasporas abroad, urban-rural flows and intersections, and virtual or hybrid communities.


Presentation preference: Paper presentation

Social Science Research Methods

Proposer: Jonsdottir, Gudbjorg Andrea


Research methods lay the foundation for progress in sociological theories and knowledge. This session is open to all papers that focus on social science research methods, quantitative or qualitative.

Presentation preference: Paper presentation

Crime and Deviance

Proposer: Valdimarsdóttir, Margrét


This session is devoted to presentations related to crime, deviance and criminal justice systems (including policing) in the Nordic countries.


No presentation preference.

Economic sociology and the sociology of work

Proposer: Heijstra, Thamar


The labour market forms one of the pillars of society with work often playing an important role in people‘s lives. This session welcomes papers that are focusing on one or more aspects of the labour market and work. Papers relating to modern work in the Nordic welfare state are particularly welcome.


Presentation preference: Paper presentation

Media and communication

Proposer: Ólafsson, Jón Gunnar


Much of contemporary society is mediated. We receive information concerning important topics through various forms of media, including traditional news media outlets and many different types of social media platforms. This session is open to all papers that focus to some extent on media and communication research from a sociological perspective.


Presentation preference: Paper presentation

Open session


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