Elin Peterson. Foto: Björn Dalin

Elin Peterson


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Works at Department of Social Work
Telephone 08-674 73 97
Visiting address Sveavägen 160, Sveaplan
Room 639
Postal address Institutionen för socialt arbete 106 91 Stockholm

About me

Elin Peterson is researcher at the Department of Social Work. She participates in the research project Sustainable care in a customer choice model? (Forte, PI Helene Brodin), which explores obstacles, dilemmas and possibilities facing small home care entrepreneurs in the context of the choice model implemented in publicly funded eldercare in Stockholm. She also participates in the project Social Inequalities in Ageing (Nordforsk, PI Johan Fritzell), where she leads a study on meanings of choice in local eldercare policies in three Nordic cities. Within the framework of a postdoc fellowship from Stockholm University, she carried out research on claims for recognition and redistribution in the field of eldercare in Spain and Sweden, including an interview study with representatives of organisations advocating the interests of paid and unpaid carers. 
Elin Peterson holds a PhD from Complutense University of Madrid and her thesis is titled Beyond the ’women-friendly’ welfare state. Framing gender inequality as a policy problem in Spanish and Swedish politics of care.



A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2021. Elin Peterson, Helene Brodin. Ageing & Society, 1-21
  • 2019. Helene Brodin, Elin Peterson. Gender, Work and Organization

    This article critically explores assumptions underpinning Swedish eldercare policies that introducing market practices in publicly funded eldercare services advances women's entrepreneurship. We argue that gendered privileges and disadvantages are being recreated on tax-funded home care markets; furthermore, gendered inequalities intersect with ethnicity and profession in management of small-scale care companies, dealings with authorities governing home care services and standards for home care work. However, we find that the salience of categories depends on the context in which they emerge. While gender and profession are dominant in management, gender and ethnicity influence interactions with authorities. Only in standards for home care work do all categories simultaneously shape the business approaches of care entrepreneurs. Our analysis, based on data on size and growth of home care companies and interviews with small-scale care entrepreneurs, suggests that regulations and practices privilege big companies and care entrepreneurs who echo the white, masculine gendering of entrepreneurship as 'doing business' and disadvantage small-scale entrepreneurs focusing on leading care work to produce quality care.

  • 2019. Helene Brodin, Elin Peterson. NORA

    This paper contributes a Swedish perspective on how selected feminist movement ideas, such as women's right to economic independence, are being appropriated by neoliberal policies. Swedish governments have argued that opening up the publicly funded eldercare sector to private providers would advance entrepreneurship undertaken by women and immigrants. In this article, we critically explore the ambiguity of the gender equality and ethnic diversity arguments used to justify private sector involvement in publicly funded eldercare in Sweden. We draw upon Carol Bacchi's theory of policies as gendering practices to argue that the discourses of equal opportunity underpinning the politics of entrepreneurship in the home care sector obscure and recreate inequalities. Our analysis, based on interviews with politicians, public officials and interest organizations involved in the market for Swedish eldercare, shows that the politics of entrepreneurship in the home care sector privilege entrepreneurs who reflect the white masculine gendering of entrepreneurship and disadvantage those with subject positions deviating from the normative entrepreneur. Our findings suggest that policy-engineered entrepreneurship is a poor tool in the struggle for gender equality, as this kind of policymaking is likely to operate in tandem with gendering and racializing practices that impede socioeconomic progress.

  • 2018. Elin Peterson.

    Theories of social justice have identified the revaluation of caregiving work as a global challenge. Still, struggles for recognition are shaped by the specific cultural and institutional contexts in which they emerge. This article explores struggles for the recognition of caregiving work in Spanish eldercare, focusing on advocacy for family carers and for domestic workers. Drawing on interviews, findings reveal that domestic workers' needs are politicised to a greater extent than family carers' needs; empowerment and claims for workers' rights contrast with notions of self-care and mutual support. While the struggles are differentiated, the undervaluation of eldercare is a common theme.

  • 2018. Helene Brodin, Elin Peterson. Äldreomsorger i Sverige, 121-136

    I detta kapitel, ”Omsorgsföretagande i med- eller motvind? Genusperspektiv på småföretagande i hemtjänsten i Stockholm”, undersöker Helene Brodin och Elin Peterson erfarenheterna av att driva mindre hemtjänstföretag i Stockholm. Analysen bygger dels på data från stadens verksamhetsuppföljningar och dels på 24 intervjuer med VD och/eller ägare av små hemtjänstföretag. Brodin och Peterson visar att kundvalsmodellen resulterat i en misstroendekultur, där alla misstänker alla för ojust spel. Småföretagarna känner sig utpekade som fuskare men misstänker samtidigt att biståndsbedömare favoriserar vissa företag. För att stävja att företagen fuskar har Stockholms stad utvecklat ett omfattande styrsystem, men detta är detaljerat och stelbent och förhindrar både företag och personal att vara flexibla och lyhörda inför variationer i de äldre hjälptagarnas behov. Brodin och Peterson pekar på att kvinnliga företagare oftare än manliga ser delaktighet i den dagliga omsorgen som nödvändig för att kunna garantera god omsorg. Graden av närvaro i den dagliga omsorgen har också betydelse för hur företagarna upplever styrningen av hemtjänsten – ju närmare det dagliga omsorgsarbetet de står, desto större problem beskriver de.

  • 2017. Marlene Spanger, Hanne Marlene Dahl, Elin Peterson. Nordic Journal of Migration Research 7 (4), 251-259

    In investigating global and regional care chains, scholars have traditionally adopted a sociological bottom-up approach, but more attention has recently been focussed on the role of the state. Despite this new attention to states and how they condition care chains, the existing frameworks cannot grasp the complexity of potential struggles and tensions within states and at the various state levels. In outlining a broad and tentative analytical framework for exploration of the role of the state in shaping global care chains, this theoretical article combines feminist state theory, discursive policy analysis and multi-level governance theories. Paying attention to the role of the state, we focus on the framing of policy problems that are important for care chains and on potential tensions between different framings within a state and across the different state levels. We argue that these framings should be investigated in both receiving and sending states.

  • 2017. Helene Brodin, Elin Peterson. Genusperspektiv på vård och omvårdnad, 53-70

    Många små hemtjänstföretag drivs idag av kvinnor. Men att inte passa in i stereotypen för en ”äkta företagare” kan vara ett hinder för kvinnors småföretagande inom äldreomsorgen. En ny studie från Stockholms Universitet visar på hur genus, etnicitet och profession formar villkoren för småföretagande inom hemtjänsten. Studien visar på skillnader i hur företagarna förstår sitt ledarskap, hur de ser på kompetenskrav inom hemtjänsten samt hur de upplever samarbetet med kommunen. Kvinnor är i större utsträckning än män är involverade i den dagliga omsorgen. Samtidigt visar studien att ju närmare företagarna står den dagliga omsorgen, desto fler problem upplever de. 

  • 2016. Elin Peterson. Paid Migrant Domestic Labour in a Changing Europe: Questions of Gender Equality and Citizenship, 79-100

    This study analyses domestic workers' social citizenship status and the role and value attributed to paid domestic work in public policy. It examines key policy documents such as acts, bills and parliamentary debates related to three policy areas: the regulation of household employment, the dependent care act, and the policies on reconciling work and family life. These policies aim to extend social citizenship, but at the same time they have exclusionary effects, particularly on domestic workers performing care work. 

  • 2015. Elin Peterson.

    The “care crisis” has been a recurrent theme in feminist debates and research. The care deficit is particularly severe is the ageing societies of Southern Europe. In Spain, familialism prevails in eldercare. This implies a permanent trust on the family, and its gender structure as provider of help and support. At the same time, studies show that migrant domestic workers increasingly meet the care needs of older dependent people. This article argues that as long as women, natives and migrants, fill the gaps in welfare provision, the recognition of caregiving work – and the redistribution of resources and responsibility for care – are vital issues for feminist research. By means a discourse-oriented policy analysis this article examines key policy texts related to dependent care and household employment as well as austerity measures that affect social policy. The article highlights that public policy has an important role in constructing caregiving work. Public policy shapes the positions of caregivers and care workers, the valuation of their work, and their status as workers and carers. While family carers and domestic workers are constructed very differently, two categories of carers have in common that they perform undervalued work.

  • 2015. Elin Peterson. Migrant domestic workers and family life, 73-87

    Migrant women have come to play an important role as care and domestic workers in private households in Europe. The insertion of migrant women in domestic service often bridges the gap between the need for care and the lack of public or subsidized private services. The globalization of care is particularly significant in southern European contexts where public care provision is scarce and cheap migrant labor is being demanded by average- and high-income households aspiring to combine employment and family life. Activists and researchers have advocated for domestic workers’ labor rights and the recognition of domestic and care work as real work. They have been more silent on the right to family life of domestic workers — the right to combine paid work and care for their families. Based on a case study of Spain, this chapter analyzes the framing of domestic work and workers in domestic employment and family policies. It aims to explore these questions: How do Spanish employment and family policies frame domestic workers? In what ways do these policies (re)produce inequalities related to gender, class and migrant background?

  • Chapter Maid in Europe
    2013. Elin Peterson. Rena hem på smutsiga villkor? Hushållstjänster, migration och globalisering, 127-142

    Petersons kapitel undersöker hushållsarbetarnas roll i jämställdhetspolitiken i Sverige och Spanien - två väldigt olika Europeiska kontexter. Att öka möjligheterna till att förena arbete och familjeliv har varit en central jämställdhetsfråga i många Europeiska länder och EU. Hushållstjänster är en mycket mer vanligt förekommande lösning till detta dilemma i Spanien än Sverige, men det är bara i Sverige som det har uppstått en het debatt kring ämnet. Peterson visar att sättet man uppfattar och diskuterar hushållstjänster i politiken är bundet till den nationella kontexten. Men hon tittar också på likheterna. Vilka tolkningar av jämställdhet återkommer i båda länderna? 

  • 2010. Elin Kvist, Elin Peterson. NORA 18 (3), 185-203

    As more and more political institutions stress the significance of gender equality policies, it becomes important to investigate the different interpretations and meanings attached to the concept of gender equality in diverse policy contexts. In this article we are interested in problematizing visions of gender equality by studying the challenges that the growing amount of paid domestic work performed within European households poses for gender equality policies and practices in two European countries. The aim is to reveal normative assumptions and silences in relation to gender equality by comparing how “paid domestic work” has been framed in policy debates in Sweden and Spain. As welfare states, Sweden and Spain are generally considered to be very different, and in policies on care for children and the elderly the differences are perhaps most apparent. In both countries, however, paid domestic work in the home has become more and more common in the last two decades. The rise of paid domestic services in European households has been interpreted as due to the limitations or decline of welfare states, the ageing populations, and the increasing numbers of dual-earner families. These services are most often provided by women, predominantly of immigrant background, and involve a wide range of tasks, including care work. The phenomenon of an increasing sector of domestic (care) work poses a theoretical and methodological challenge to gender and welfare studies. This article argues that the analysis of debates surrounding domestic service in private households is a useful starting-point for an intersectional analysis by means of revealing the normative assumptions and marginalization embedded in gender equality policies. It uses a comparative frame analysis in combination with intersectional analysis to assess how interactions between gender, class, race, and sexuality have been articulated in the policy debates on domestic services in Spain and Sweden.

  • 2007. Elin Peterson. The European Journal of Women's Studies 14 (3), 265-280

    This article explores how paid domestic work is framed in state policies and discourses, drawing upon theoretical discussions on gender, welfare and global care chains. Based on a case study of the political debate on the ‘reconciliation of personal, family and work life’ in Spain, the author argues that dominant policy frames relate gender inequality to women’s unpaid domestic work and care, while domestic workers are essentially the invisible ‘other’. Empowering and disempowering frames are discussed; domestic workers are mainly constructed as a solution to the care problem and only marginally as subjects and rights-holders. The overall aim is to examine how public policies legitimize and (re)produce social inequalities related to gender, class and nationality.

Show all publications by Elin Peterson at Stockholm University

Last updated: April 13, 2021

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