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Mikaela Sundberg

Professor of Sociology

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Works at Department of Sociology
Telephone 08-16 19 73
Visiting address Universitetsvägen 10 B, plan 9
Room B 970
Postal address Sociologiska institutionen 106 91 Stockholm

About me

Mikaela Sundberg is Professor of Sociology at the Department of Sociology, Stockholm University. She is also Director of Research at SCORE.


What are fraternal relations and how can we understand these relations and their consequences? How does interpersonal relations in voluntary total organizations or arenas with strong collective solidarity work? And how do structural conditions affect them? My research for the past few years have dealt with these questions, presently focusing on Catholic monasteries as the case of inquiry. 

The project "Organizing Monastic Life: Towards a Theory of Fraternal Relations",  funded by the Swedish Research Council, concerns the conceptualization and practices of fraternal relationships, and how they differ from friendship, in an organizational context. In many organizations, there is a potential tension involved when personal relationships develop alongside the organized relationship, among members as members. Catholic monasteries, as archetypical examples of voluntary total and greedy institutions, are strategic cases of inquiry because of the significance they assign to exclusively fraternal relations, resulting in an explicit tension with personal forms of relationships. How are personal bonds among people who live closely together for extended periods of time restricted, and collective solidarity created to hold them together as a whole?

In a previous  study, I investigated the French Foreign Legion. Based on rich ethnographic work, the book A Sociology of the Total Organization: Atomistic Unity in the French Foreign Legion (Routledge, 2015) examines the organization of everyday life inside the regiments of the French Foreign Legion.

Earlier areas of research have been within sociology of science and science and technology studies (STS). In a number of articles, I have explored the role of modeling and simulations as scientific practice within astrophysics, oceanography, and meteorology, including climate modeling.

Selected publications

On monasteries

Sundberg, M. Forthcoming. The Meaning of Love in Monastic Life: Fraternal Relations and Regulated Intimacy in a Total Institution. London: Routledge. Under contract.

Sundberg, M.  (2020) Differences in Secondary Adjustments among Monks and Nuns. Current Sociology. Online first Link

Sundberg, M. (2020) The Politics of Monastic Life. Opportunities for Exit and Voice in a Voluntary Total Institution. European Journal of Sociology. First view Link

Sundberg, M. (2019) "You can't just stick with those you like"- Why friendship practices threaten fraternal life in Cistercian monasteries. Sociology. Link

Sundberg, M (2019) Work practices, normative control and ascetic responsibilization in Cistercian monasteries. Journal of Management, Spirituality and Religion. Link

On the French Foreign Legion

Sundberg, M. (2015) A Sociology of the Total Organization: Atomistic Unity in the French Foreign Legion. Routledge.Link

Sundberg, M. (2019) "Brotherhood as a social relationship" in Ahrne, G. and Brunsson, N (eds) Organization outside Organization. The Abundance of Partial Organization in Social Life. Cambridge University Press. Link

On numerical simulations and modeling

Sundberg, M. (2011) The Dynamics of Coordinated Comparisons: How simulationists in Astrophysics, Oceanography and Meteorology create Standards for Results, Social Studies of Science, 41(1).

Sundberg, M. (2009) The Everyday World of Simulation Modelling: The Construction of Parameterizations in Meteorology, Science, Technology and Human Values, 34 (2).

Sundberg, M. (2007) Parameterizations as Boundary Objects on the Climate Arena, Social Studies of Science 37 (3).

Last updated: April 20, 2020

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