Karin Carlsson

Karin Carlsson


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Works at Department of History
Telephone 08-16 14 92
Visiting address Universitetsvägen 10 D, plan 9
Room D 902
Postal address Historia 106 91 Stockholm


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • Chapter Kökskunskap
    2018. Karin Carlsson, Orsi Husz. Köket
  • Chapter Redskapen
    2018. Karin Carlsson. Köket
  • Conference Rent kök
    2017. Karin Carlsson.
  • 2015. Karin Carlsson. Personhistorisk Tidskrift (1)
  • 2013. Karin Carlsson (et al.).

    This thesis examines the history of the Swedish public home help service. The public provision of home help is taken as an empirical example of the state’s relationship with the private sphere. Housework and care work are discussed as political issues and as the objects of a professionalization project. The study addresses the creation and distribution of welfare in the form of public services that are delivered in private homes and analyses how visionary government policies worked in practice. In the broadest sense, the thesis aims to increase understanding of the difficult and deeply-rooted problem of how housework and care work can be made ‘real work’.

    Those who started the public home help service argued that it would relieve the shortage of domestic servants, increase the birth rate, reduce poverty and improve public health. In addition, it was believed that paid domestic work, when performed by public home help workers, would be transformed into a respectable occupation through education, selective recruitment and regulated pay and conditions. This ambition, however, was doomed from the start in part because, as this study shows, central actors in the public home help service took an ambivalent approach concerning educational requirements. Professional care work in the household found itself in a paradoxical situation because its central tasks were the same as those all women and mothers were expected to be able to carry out in the private sphere.

    The public home help service had a surprisingly short life span. After sixteen years the state subsidy for public home help workers was withdrawn, and new societal problems and political questions took priority.  At the same time, the gender discourse underwent significant changes. The necessary preconditions for the existence of the home help had disappeared. Nevertheless, the significance of the public home help service is greater than its own short existence. Seen in a wider historical perspective, the home help service represents an important example of how paid housework constantly takes on new forms and how difficult raising the status and value of household labor is, even when it is publicly supported and regulated.  

Show all publications by Karin Carlsson at Stockholm University

Last updated: March 28, 2019

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