Profiles

Picture of Laura Carlson

Laura Carlson

Professor

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Works at Department of Law
Telephone 08-16 25 49
Email laura.carlson@juridicum.su.se
Visiting address Universitetsvägen 10 C
Room C 872
Postal address Juridiska institutionen 106 91 Stockholm

About me

My main assignment at the Department of Law is as Director of International Affairs for the period 2018-2021. This means that I am responsible for internationalization issues concerning student, teacher, staff and researcher exchanges.

Education

I have a B.A. from Carleton College (USA), a J.D: from the University of Minnesota (USA), a masters of laws from Uppsala University, and a juris doktor (Ph.D.) from Stockholm University. I was a fellow at the Institute of European and Comparative Law and Christ Church, Oxford University during 2014-2015. I was nominated in 2017 by the Swedish Research Council to AcademiaNet as an outstanding woman of science.

Positions

I am the editor-in-chief of an international publication beginning in 2017, Comparative Discrimination Law published by Brill Nijhoff Publishing. I am a board member of the Education Council (Utbildningsutskottet), the Institutet för social civilrätt and the Stiftelsen Folke Schmidts minnesfond för arbetsrättslig forskning.

Teaching

I am head of the labour law and family law departments. I am course director for Private Law C, and the upper-level elective courses, Equality Law, Comparative Law, American and English Business Law, and European and Swedish Labour and Employment law.

Research

My areas of research include labour and employment law, discrimination law, access to justice, comparative law and academic freedom.

I am currently working on one research project, Grappling with Democracy, Grappling with Democracy: Workers, Collectivism and the Law -  A Comparative Legal Study of the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden and the United States, which book will be published by Edward Elgar Publishing in the fall of 2018.

I have recently completed three research projects. Together with Prof. Cecilia Magnusson Sjöberg, we have completed the project, Employment law, copyright and privacy protection concerns as raised by teaching in digital environments, which was granted SEK 5.3 million by the Stiftelsen Marcus och Amalia Wallenbergs Minnesfond in 2012. The final book, The Wired World of University Teaching – Legal Challenges, was published by Ex Tuto in the summer of  2017. I was responsible for the policy section in the seventh framework EU research project, FamiliesAndSocieties - Changing families and sustainable societies: Policy contexts and diversity over the life course and across generations (€ 6.5 million during 2013-2017), which report also came out in 2017, familiesandsocieties.eu. I am also a researcher in the EU project ADPOLIS – Antidiscrimination policies successfully implemented. The project deals with the success factors of policies against racial or ethnic discrimination that are already implemented in European cities. This project will be completed in the spring of 2018.

I have been a National Reporter several times, two of my favorite being EU projects within central labour law (the right to strike and the mandate of the union) administered by CGIL, an umbrella labour organization in Rome. I have also been a researcher in another seventh framework EU project, RECWOWE (2006-2012), Reconciling Work and Welfare, www.recwowe.eu.

Publications

A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2017. Laura Carlson.

    Human history is marked by group and individual struggles for emancipation, equality and self-expression. This first volume in the Brill Research Perspectives in Comparative Discrimination Law briefly explores some of the history underlying these efforts in the field of discrimination law. A broad discussion of the historical development of issues of discrimination is first set out, looking at certain international, regional and national bases for modern discrimination legal structures. Several of the theoretical frameworks invoked in a comparative discrimination law analysis are then addressed, either as institutional frameworks or theories addressing specific protection grounds. This first volume is dedicated to setting out an introduction to the field of comparative discrimination law to give the reader a platform from which to undertake further reading and research in the compelling topic of comparative discrimination law.

  • 2017. Laura Carlson. Festskrift till Ann Numhauser-Henning, 129-143

    This chapter focuses on combating unlawful discrimination; a battle firmly entrenched in both Swedish and EU law. Hand-in-hand with eradicating unlawful discrimination are issues of access to justice, the ability of individuals to seek and obtain effective remedies for unlawful discrimination through institutions of justice. The focus of this contribution is on three vital aspects necessary for disadvantaged communities to have access to justice. The first is effective, proportional and dissuasive remedies for discrimination claims. Closely tied to this are aspects two and three, whether the Swedish justice system is financially accessible for discrimination plaintiffs and whether legal counsel is available to such plaintiffs. This contribution examines the institution of discrimination damages (diskrimineringsersättning) as newly created in the Swedish 2008 Discrimination Act, both as intended by the legislature to increase access to justice and as applied by the Labour Court (Arbetsdomstolen, ‘AD’). The intention and application of the law will be assessed against an access to justice analysis focusing on the award of damages as well as trial costs and fees, and access to legal counsel for plaintiffs.

  • 2017. Laura Carlson. Niklas Bruun i Sverige: En vänbook, 57-70

    This chapter presents a historical overview of the concept of academic freedom, and then a comparison of the development and protections of academic freedom in Germany, the United States and Sweden. Not surprisingly, the argument is made here for greater and more explicit constitutional protections with respect to academic freedom.

    Academic freedom is a fundamental concept in the world of academia, but despite it being often cited, there is little detail in the law to offer any substantive definition of what it is. Historically, academic freedom has been discussed from three different perspectives, the general freedom of the university as originally a religious corporate body separate from the royal power, the academic freedom of students, and the academic freedom of professors with respect to enquiry and teaching. This chapter focuses on the academic freedom of professors, and this from the legal parameters found in the German, American and Swedish systems.

  • 2017. Laura Carlson, Cecilia Magnusson Sjöberg, Frantzeska Papadopoulou.

    The digitalization and commercialization of teaching have greatly complicated the university world; twin processes that have wrought great changes to institutions of higher learning, both externally with respect to their roles in society, and internally with respect to the relationship between universities, teachers and students. These processes raise both new and old questions with respect to academic freedom, copyrights to teaching materials, employment rights, open access and data protection, public sector information and transparency. The recurring thread in all the chapters presented in this work is a more focused, explicit treatment of these issues in the law is needed, taking into consideration the different interests of society, the academy, academics, students or the public.

    The analyses in this book give rise to the question what law, lawyers and legal systems can provide as responses. There obviously is a need to bring in legal assessments, proactively, at the early stages of e-learning development. When e-learning and e-applications are already launched, it is more costly and complicated to reactively rectify the situation, for instance, in cases of flawed personal data protection. Law needs to play an active role. Last but not least, legal systems as such must protect and strengthen the values of a democratic society. When traditional academic learning is challenged internally and externally by commercialization and digitalization, academic freedom and the protections of privacy and moral rights are essential. The need for digital humanities is compelling in learning environments where artificial intelligence and associated algorithms have become part of our daily lives.

  • 2017. Laura Carlson, Livia Oláh, Barbara Hobson.

    These policy recommendations are based on main findings of the largescale EU Seventh Framework project, Changing families and sustainable societies: Policy contexts and diversity over the life course and across generations (FamiliesAndSocieties). This executive summary highlights a few of the key policy recommendations:

    • Policy makers ought to be aware of the remarkable diversity of family forms and relationships in contemporary Europe, and aim for a better understanding of the nature and mechanisms of family constellations beyond married couples with children.

    • Policy measures aiming to prevent/reduce the reproduction of vulnerability in families ought to be broad, complementary and embedded into a comprehensive strategy. They should comprise services addressing the needs of particularly vulnerable children as well as reconciliation policies, educational policies and other policy measures. Family constellations more at risk of vulnerability such as single parents, stepfamilies, large families, same-sex families, immigrant families and living-apart-together (LAT) relationships need to be addressed within their specific parameters.

    • More direct supports to youth are needed in most European countries, with the state playing an active role in enabling young people in their transition to adulthood. Financial independence is fundamental. However, the achievement of self-sufficiency is a process preferably supported with a social package encompassing education, housing, job market access, family benefits and social aid.

    • Law, policies and practices have to assess the effects of any privatization or transfer of care (for children, the elderly, frail individuals) back on the family as to all persons concerned, those receiving the care and the caregivers. Reconciliation of care and work should be supported by implementing care leaves not limited to young children, reducing working hours and allowing for greater flexibility in work time for adults in need.

    • To be able to design policies for sustainable societies we need to extend our knowledge on the new roles of men and women and their implications for families and societies. Family-friendly policies, such as parental leave, should consider both parents, as each of their time investments matters for child development.

    • Affordable child care, out of school care and recreation should be available, given the positive association between formal child care and positive child outcomes, which is stronger for children living in more disadvantaged environments. Early and universal access to formal child care is also one of the most efficient interventions to reduce disadvantages among immigrant children.

    • Education and information are key policy issues. Education of children reduces inequality in children’s life chances when they reach adulthood. Information and counselling for parents helps them to cope with parental roles, and raising awareness of employers—and society at large—enhances the understanding of challenges faced by parents.

    • Both labour market and family policies aimed at better reconciliation of work and family responsibilities are required to be supportive for the reallocation of paid and unpaid work between women and men, to diminish gender inequality in economic positions across the life course, and to promote rewarding contacts between generations. Policies aimed at reducing social and economic inequalities that favour the reconciliation of family life, private life and professional life will also help reduce children’s disadvantages and challenges associated with parents’ divorce or separation.

  • 2016. Laura Carlson. Globalization, Fragmentation, Labour and Employment Law: A Swedish Perspective, 139-160

    This chapter traces the journey of unlawful discrimination perceived of as a non-issue in Sweden to the current parliamentary understanding of protection against unlawful discrimination as a fundamental human right now buttressed by legal regulation. This journey has been to the greatest extent influenced by events outside of Sweden, namely the Europeanisation and internationalisation of human rights that has successively been gaining ground since World War II. Arriving at the current Swedish parliamentary perception – that protection against unlawful discrimination on the basis of sex, transgender identity and expression, ethnicity, religion or other belief, disability, sexual orientation or age, is a fundamental human right – has been neither a self-evident, nor a linear, path in Swedish law. The Swedish courts, however, cannot yet be seen as embracing this same development, rather instead invoking a more liberal analysis when deciding such claims as seen below. As evidenced by these examples, we now have the law in the books, but arguably not yet the law in action when it comes to unlawful discrimination protections. The gap between the intent of the legislator and the application of the discrimination law by the Swedish courts is the focus of this chapter, with particular attention paid to access to justice issues as one way of reducing this distance.

  • 2016. Laura Carlson (et al.).

    GLOBALISATION AND INTERNATIONALISATION have had significant consequences for the regulation of labour markets in recent decades. This volume addresses some of the questions raised by the necessary rethinking of labour law-related issues. Labour and employment law have become increasingly interdependent at all levels, while simultaneously an increasing fragmentation of legal sources has occurred. This collection of essays provides different perspectives on aspects of these processes, in international or European perspectives, in the light of fundamental human rights or with a view to Swedish labour and employment law. The volume ends by looking into the future through the lens of the fragmentation of labour and employment law.

  • 2016. Laura Carlson. Ius Comparatum - Global Studies in Comparative Law, The Internationalization of Legal Education, 269-278

    Sweden is both moving forward and remaining stagnant with respect to the internationalization of the Swedish legal education. Politicians have clearly stated a desire for Sweden to be a world leader in education, entailing an internalizing of internationalization, while at the same time, the legal education has demonstrated a strong amount of inertia in these issues. English has been a strong second language for the Swedish population for decades, but actually stepping outside the Swedish legal system has not been as easily embraced. However, a movement towards a more international perspective can be detected, propelled in part by EU membership in 1995, Erasmus exchange programs, and a desire by some of the younger universities to attract strong students. The landscape with respect to the internationalization of the Swedish legal education will most likely be radically different in ten years, with a greater emphasis placed on Sweden’s part in the world.

  • 2014. Laura Carlson. Barnrätt
  • 2011. Laura Carlson. Europarättslig tidskrift (2), 285-295
  • 2014. Laura Carlson. Information Technology and the Law
  • 2012. Laura Carlson.
  • 2008. Laura Carlson.

    Based on the Swedish Land Code, An Introduction to Swedish Real Property Law gives an overview to helps foreign students and practitioners better understand the real property system in Sweden. The book focuses on the creation, assignment and registration of real property rights, including user rights such as landlord/tenant rights.

  • 2008. Laura Carlson, Tore Sigeman, Ronnie Eklund.

    Swedish Labour and Employment Law: Cases and Materials provides the reader with an orientation in labour and employment law in Sweden as well as certain of the effects of European Community law. After the introductory part providing an overview and background of Swedish labour and employment law, the second part of this work comprises cases. Each case is presented with an introductory note including a brief description of the historical setting and applicable legislation, a summary of the facts and arguments, with comments afterwards discussing the issues raised in the cases. Many of the cases included are seen as landmark cases in Swedish labour and employment law. The third part of this work includes several collective agreements regarded as significant on the Swedish labour market. Two of the primary statutes, the Joint Regulation Act and the Employment Protection Act, are also included in this work.

  • Thesis (Doc) Searching for Equality
    2007. Laura Carlson, Ronnie Eklund, Clare McGlynn.

    Achieving economic equality between men and women is a challenge to every country. The approach taken politically and legally in Sweden is to encourage a greater economic independence of women from the family through paid work, as well encouraging men to assume a greater share of unpaid work, particularly parental leave, resulting in a lessening of the double burden of work for women. These efforts have made within the context of the parameters of the Swedish model with respect to labor, in which the preferred mechanism of resolution is agreement between the social partners and not legislation. To this end, the Swedish collective agreements have been analyzed specifically with respect to taking parental leave. The other parameters in the area of sex equality applicable to the Swedish system are those as defined by Community law, specifically the equal treatment and equal pay directives, against which the Swedish regulations as well as case law applying such are assessed.

    This work takes the Swedish approach to the problem of economic equality and compares it to the approaches as found in EU, UK and US law. In the UK, there has been a recent emphasis on a family friendly workplace, which is to be achieved at least in part through flexible working. The American approach has focused on discriminatory behavior as a societal phenomena. Comparisons to these two national systems are interesting also from an industrial relations aspect, as Sweden is the most unionized at 80 %, followed by the UK and then by the US at only 15 %.

    The findings of this thesis suggest that Sweden may need to reassess its approach to equality between the sexes, as well as issues of discrimination in general, incorporating aspects of access to justice into the legal system, as well as reassessing the role of the labor unions, and the Swedish model, with respect to such questions in general...

  • 2004. Laura Carlson.

    American Business Law - A Civil Law Perspective is written to give lawyers trained in civil law a basic overview of the American legal systems, as well as certain fundamental areas of the law.

    The systems discussed in Part I include the common law, the separation of power as well as the checks and balances between the different state institutions, federalism, as well as civil and criminal procedure. Part II explores property (including intellectual property), contracts (including sales and CISG), torts and the law of business enterprises.

    The extensive agency law and power existing at both the federal and state levels is addressed in Part III, specifically in the areas of employment and labor law, consumer law, environmental law, antitrust and securities law. The concluding chapter addresses the role of lawyers in the American legal systems.

  • 2013. Laura Carlson. Revista Română de Dreptul Muncii 4, 99-122
  • 2013. Laura Carlson. Ragion pratica 41 (2), 491-509

    One of the major focuses of European Union law is combating discrimination in order to ensure equal participation in society for all Union citizens. Coming to grips with racism through the law, and the use of the term «race», is problematic for many societies and within the EU, has been left to the member states to resolve in a manner consistent with the traditions and legal systems of the member states. This article examines the Swedish approach to the use of the term «race» through the lens of Critical Race Theory (CRT). This legal theory explains many of the inconsistencies in the Swedish legal approach to racial discrimination. The most dramatic of these inconsistencies as examined here are those with respect to the intent of the Swedish (and EU) legislator and the case law in which the Swedish Labour Court has consistently not found racial or ethnic discrimination in working life.

  • 2011. Laura Carlson. Juridisk Tidskrift 2011/12 (1), 21-49

    When enacting the most recent Discrimination Act (2008), the Swedish legislator deliberately removed the term “race” from the list of unlawful discrimination grounds. According to the legislative preparatory works to the act, this was to demonstrate that a biological concept of race is unacceptable: “[T]here is no scientific basis for dividing human beings into different races and from a biological perspective, consequently is there neither any reason to use the word race with respect to human beings.”  The Parliament also stated that the Swedish Government is to act in the international arena towards that the word “race”, as used with respect to human beings, to as great a degree as possible is avoided in official texts. The Government was also to review the extent to which the term “race” occurs in Swedish laws not based on international texts, and as far as possible, suggest a different term. To date, no such alternative term has been proposed, either by the Parliament or the Government. This “post-race” perspective by the Swedish Parliament can be juxtaposed against the judgments of the Swedish Labour Court (Arbetsdomstolen) in cases raising claims of unlawful ethnic discrimination. In one almost contemporaneous case, by way of example, the Labour Court found that statements by fellow workers, calling the plaintiff names such as Blackey, did not amount to unlawful ethnic discrimination in the workplace as the Court found that the plaintiff had consented to this banter. The paradox resulting from these examples appears irreconcilable, with the Parliament assuming a protection that the courts are not giving. However, when evaluating this through the lens of Critical Race Theory, though still not desirable, the paradox becomes more understandable. Part One of this article sets out the legal theoretical framework addressing race based on Critical Race Theory. Part Two explores the treatment of “race” as defined by these theories with respect to religion, immigration and ethnic origins in the Swedish legislation and the case law of the Swedish Labour Court. The disparity between the application of discrimination protections by the courts and the intentions of the legislator in removing the word “race” from the legislation is explained by CRT as part of the ongoing historical process of not seriously addressing the structural discrimination existing in society.

Show all publications by Laura Carlson at Stockholm University

Last updated: September 26, 2018

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