Barbara Hobson

Professor Emerita

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Works at Department of Sociology
Telephone 08-16 31 16
Visiting address Universitetsvägen 10 B, plan 9
Room B 844
Postal address Sociologiska institutionen 106 91 Stockholm

About me

I am a professor Emerita of Sociology at Stockholm University, having held the Professor’s Chair in sociology with a specialization in gender research (sociologi med inriktning mot genusforskning) for over 17 years. My research has spanned a range of areas in political sociology, including welfare regimes, citizenship, social movements and diversity.   I have coordinated many international projects, three of which became seminal books in gender research: Making Men into Fathers: Men, Masculinities and the Politics of Fatherhood (Cambridge University Press, 2002); Recognition Struggles and Social Movement: Cultural Claims, Contested Identities and Power and Agency (Cambridge University Press 2003); and Worklife Balance: The Agency & Capabilities Gap (Oxford University Press 2014). Throughout my research, I have sought to develop theories and conceptual frameworks for understanding how agency and power operate within different institutional layers of social and political life. My interest in agency and the power to act led me to focus on Amartya Sen’s capability approach, and for the past 14 years, I have been elaborating and extending his agency-centred and multi-dimensional framework in sociological models, applying these to women’s employment and childbearing, worklife balance, and precariousness and capabilities. In my latest large-scale project on migrant care/domestic work in Spain and Sweden, funded by the Riksbankens Jubeleumsfond and EU FP 7 (FamiliesANDSocieties), we focused on the reconfiguration welfare states and the widening gap in capability, brought about by the expansion of private markets for care/domestic services, sustained by a low-waged migrant workforce.

I have also addressed the conceptual challenges and dilemmas in the Capability approach for gender research with respect to situated agency and complex inequalities (Critical Sociology, 2017). In my current work, I have integrated the capability framework into the field of the sociology of futures. This evolution of my research emerged from my year as a research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin and from my on-going collaboration with one off the  permanent fellows at that institute, Bénédicte Zimmermann, which resulted in a manuscript: “Imagining Alternatives and the Sociology of Futures: projectivity and the capability to aspire” (submitted for publication).

Current Academic activities

In 1994, I took the initiative to launch a new journal together with Ann Orloff and Sonya Michel, Social Politics: International Studies of Gender, State and Society (Oxford University Press), which, with its interdisciplinary perspectives and global reach, has shaped gender research in the social sciences. I was a senior editor for over twenty years (now I emerita editor and member of SP board ).    I have served and continue to serve on various editorial boards of international journals, and I am still active in various international networks. For example, I am currently a member of the Research Committee on "Poverty, Social Welfare,­ and Social Policy (RC 19) of the International Sociological­  Association” a well as an network member of the International Work Family Research Network and member of the American Sociological Association.  I am part of the recently formed anti-racist network based at the Sociology, SU.


Last updated: November 23, 2020

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