Stockholms universitet

Barbara HobsonProfessor Emerita i sociologi

Om mig

I am a professor Emerita of Sociology at Stockholm University, having held the Professor’s Chair in sociology with a specialization in gender research (sociologi med inriktning mot genusforskning) for over 17 years. My research has spanned a range of areas in political sociology, including welfare regimes, citizenship, social movements and diversity.   I have coordinated many international projects, three of which became seminal books in gender research: Making Men into Fathers: Men, Masculinities and the Politics of Fatherhood (Cambridge University Press, 2002); Recognition Struggles and Social Movement: Cultural Claims, Contested Identities and Power and Agency (Cambridge University Press 2003); and Worklife Balance: The Agency & Capabilities Gap (Oxford University Press 2014). Throughout my research, I have sought to develop theories and conceptual frameworks for understanding how agency and power operate within different institutional layers of social and political life. My interest in agency and the power to act led me to focus on Amartya Sen’s capability approach, and for the past 14 years, I have been elaborating and extending his agency-centred and multi-dimensional framework in sociological models, applying these to women’s employment and childbearing, worklife balance, and precariousness and capabilities. In my latest large-scale project on migrant care/domestic work in Spain and Sweden, funded by the Riksbankens Jubeleumsfond and EU FP 7 (FamiliesANDSocieties), we focused on the reconfiguration welfare states and the widening gap in capability, brought about by the expansion of private markets for care/domestic services, sustained by a low-waged migrant workforce.

I have also addressed the conceptual challenges and dilemmas in the Capability approach for gender research with respect to situated agency and complex inequalities (Critical Sociology, 2017). In my current work, I have integrated the capability framework into the field of the sociology of futures. This evolution of my research emerged from my year as a research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin and from my on-going collaboration with one off the  permanent fellows at that institute, Bénédicte Zimmermann, which resulted in a manuscript: “Imagining Alternatives and the Sociology of Futures: projectivity and the capability to aspire” (submitted for publication).

Current Academic activities

In 1994, I took the initiative to launch a new journal together with Ann Orloff and Sonya Michel, Social Politics: International Studies of Gender, State and Society (Oxford University Press), which, with its interdisciplinary perspectives and global reach, has shaped gender research in the social sciences. I was a senior editor for over twenty years (now I emerita editor and member of SP board ).    I have served and continue to serve on various editorial boards of international journals, and I am still active in various international networks. For example, I am currently a member of the Research Committee on "Poverty, Social Welfare,­ and Social Policy (RC 19) of the International Sociological­  Association” a well as an network member of the International Work Family Research Network and member of the American Sociological Association.  I am part of the recently formed anti-racist network based at the Sociology, SU.


Selected Publications (see CV for full list)

Books and large-scale Book Projects

Worklife Balance: The agency & Capabilities Gap. Oxford University press, 2014. Paperback 2015.

Recognition Struggles and Social Movements: Cultural Claims, Contested Identities, Power and Agency. Cambridge University. Press. 2003

Making Men into Fathers: Men. Masculinities, and the Social Politics of Fatherhood. Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Uneasy Virtue: The Politics of Prostitution and the American ¬Reform Tradition. Paperback edition, with a new introduction. University of Chicago Press, 1990.

Selected Published Articles (English publications)

Hearn, J and Hobson, B. Gender, State and Citizenships, in Handbook of Political Sociololgy, eds. J, Misra and T. Janoski, Oxford University Press, forthcoming. 2018

Hobson B, Hellgren Z and Serrano I. Migrants, markets and domestic work: Do institutional contexts matter in the personal household service sector? Journal of European Social Policy, 2018:

Hobson, B. Gendered Dimensions and Capabilities: Opportunities, Dilemmas and Challenges. Critical Sociology, 2016 doi/10.1177/0896920516683232

Hobson, B and L. Bede. Precariousness and Capabilities. Migrant Care/domestic workers in two Institutional Contexts. Theory in Practice. Special Issue Economy and Society.  2015: 53:2.

Estevéz-Abe. M and B. Hobson. Outsourcing Domestic (Care) Work: The Politics, Policies and Political Economy. Social Politics. 2015: 2:2.

Hobson, B. The Agency Gap in Work-Life Balance: Applying Sen’s Capabilities Framework in European Institutional Contexts.  Social Politics, 2011: 18:2.

Hobson, B and S. Fahlén. Competing Frames in Gender, Family and Responsibility: From rights and obligations to rights and capabilities. In Transforming Families. Regulating Responsibilities: eds. Jo Bridgeman and Heather Keating. Ashgate: Surrey, 2011.

Hobson, B., S Fahlén, and J.Takács. Tensions in Aspirations, Agency and Capabilities to Achieve a Work Family Balance: A comparison of Sweden and Hungary. Social Politics, 2011: 8:2.

Hobson, B. and S Fahlén. Two Scenarios for European Fathers: Adversity and Risk? Opportunities and Agency for a Work Family Balance. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 2009: 624:1.

Hobson, B. and Z. Hellgren. European Exports and Imports: How gender and ethnic minority groups in Sweden use EU institutions and venues. In Gender Issues and Women’s Movements in the Expanding European Union, ed. Birgit Sauer Berghahn Books, 2008

Hellgren, Z and B. Hobson. Cultural Conflict and Cultural Dialogues in the Good Society: The Case of Honour Killings in Sweden. Ethnicities, Special issue eds. A. Phillips and S. Sawitri Sarhasa.2008: 8:3

Hobson, B., Carson, M and Lawrence, R. Recognition Struggles in Trans-national Arenas: Negotiating Identities and Framing Citizenship. Special Issue: Gender and Diversity, Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, 2007: 8:3 ( reprinted in Contesting Citizenship; eds. Birte Siim and Judith Squires. London Routledge, 2008).

Hobson, B and L, Oláh. Birthstrikes? Agency and capabilities in the reconciliation of employment and family. Journal of Marriage and Family Review 2006: 39:1

Hobson. B. The Evolution of the Women Friendly State: Opportunities and Constraints in the Swedish Welfare State.” In Gender and Social Policy, eds. S. Hassim och Shara Razavi (UNRSID project on Gender and social Policy). Palgrave, 2006.

Hobson, B. The Individual Worker, the Gender Participatory and the Gender Equity Models in Sweden. Social Policy and the Society; 2003: 2:1

Hobson, B. Economic Citizenship: Reflections through the European Policy Mirror in Gender and Citizenship in Transition, ed. B Hobson.

Hobson, B and R. Lister. Citizenship. In Contested Concepts in Gender and Social Politics. eds. B. Hobson , J. Lewis and B. Siim, Edward Elgar. 2002.

Hobson, B. Women’s Collective Agency, Power Resources and the Framing of Citizenship. In Extending Citizenship: Reconfiguring States, eds. M.Hannagan and C.Tilly. Boulder Colorado: Rowman and Littlefield, 1998.

Hobson, B. and M. Lindholm. “Women's Collectivities, Power Resources and the Making of Welfare States," Theory and Society. 26: 475-508, 1997 ( Reprinted and Translated into German and Spanish).

Hobson, B. Welfare Policy Regimes, Solo Mothers, and the Logics of Gender," in Gendering Welfare States, ed. D. Sainsbury. London, Sage 1994.

No Exit, No Voice: Married Women's Economic Dependency and the¬ Welfare State, Acta Sociologica, 1990: 33: 3.