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Mikaela Sundberg

Senior Lecturer

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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 Docent and Associate Professor of Sociology at Stockholm University. She is also Director of Research at SCORE.


What do interpersonal relations in voluntary total organizations or arenas with strong collective solidarity look like? 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? How are fraternal relationships accomplished?

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. This book is the primary result of the research project “Social relations within a total and greedy institution”, funded by the Swedish Research Council.

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.

Recent work

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

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

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


Last updated: July 16, 2019

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