Areas of Research

Criminal Justice

Within the field of criminal justice, the research carried out by members of Umeå Gender Studies in Law is mainly concerned with different aspects of the rights of crime victims. Some of the researchers are working on a more general level, where the focus is on the interaction between legal actors and crime victims when it comes to the possibility of legal regulations concerning treatment of crime victims in the judicial system: Others are working on a more specialised level, where the rights of especially vulnerable groups of crime victims are studied. Some researchers studies the rights of women that are subjected to intimate partner violence, others children as crime victims or victims of trafficking. On a theoretical level, the established legal discourses within criminal and procedural law are analysed and problematised, for example in the context of the discourse of the ideal victim.


Research within the area of family mainly concerns conceptions of family and constructions of rights, normality and subjectivity in a family context. Processes and structures of gender and power in the family are highlighted as well as how children´s rights and perspectives are comprehended, addressed and operationalized in law. A wide range of legal areas and issues are targeted with a starting-point in feminist legal theory, mainly related to and often situated in the intersections of social, family, alien, insolvency, procedural and criminal law. The research covers issues as the status and constructions of solo mothers, children in immigrant families, economic dependency and independence in the family, custody of and access to children and violence in intimate relationships.

Gender Equality

Gender equality is an important field of law in Sweden. Within the Swedish Academia the work for gender equality in higher education has been on the agenda the last twenty years and it deals with all areas in the Academia. Many of the members of UGSL has been working with gender equality law both in theory and practise. There are several of us that have experiences as chairs for the University Equal Opportunities Committee and Equal opportunities officers on both central and faculty levels. The integration of theory and practise has enabled us to develop and promote new areas of work for equal opportunities.

Human Rights

Within this field questions about the meaning of human rights are raised and scrutinized in national and international law. An important issue is if law shows partiality towards a certain kind of legal subject or if law is suitable and including irrespective of gender, age, disability, ethnicity etcetera, and also the impact of human rights when inequalities founded on these factors arise in law. By using feminist legal theories the researchers problematise and analyse alien, procedural and disability law from out of conceptions as normality, exclusion, inclusion, subordination and also constructions in law e.g. the autonomous, abstract and equal subject traditionally considered as the subject of law. The research aims to disclose inequalities before the law and pay particular attention to the substantial content of a human rights-discourse in a Swedish context.

The Labour Market

Research in the Labour Market field of the UGSL covers topics like effects of employment legislation and flexicurity policies on the conditions of women and men. It also deals with inclusion, exclusion and the role of labour market regulation in the process of labour market segmentation according to gender. Special topics of interest are the regulation of the blurred zone between private and public employment and between family relations and employment relations. The regulation of the labour market for domestic work and au pair work, including aliens legislation has been the topic of special studies. Recent studies focus on the transferring of care work to the families and on precarious employment, especially in the care of the elderly and the disabled.


The research on migration deals with issues about the status of migrants in law and society. It concerns individuals and families that are crossing borders in different ways, about identity and power-relations, but also about the sharing of the responsibility for their welfare between state/states, individual and family. The theme takes its starting-point in feminist legal theory and is also connected to theoretical concepts like “burden sharing” and “individualization/familiarization”. The issues dealt with concern national and international protection, residence and settlement and also labour and maintenance. It means that aliens law, family law, labour law, social law and child law are at focus in the theme.

Social Welfare

Social Welfare focuses on the construction of gender and power in social welfare law in a Swedish and European context. Social welfare law includes various branches of law, including social law, that take part in the legal regulation of the welfare of citizens. Analysis of the position of women and men and various groups of people in the welfare state, e.g. of the disabled, of victims of crime, of children, and of solo mothers is central for revealing the constructions of normality in law and the boundaries of social citizenship.


One part of this area of research is about grounded tax theory. The theoretical and methodological framework strives to build in gender into the analyses of tax law regulations. It challenges the prerequisites for human agency in mainstream revenue law scholarship that replicate the social meanings of productivity and wealth drawn from the economic rationalism representing the self-interested and socially isolated character of the “economic man”. Gender neutrality in revenue and social security law and the contested meanings of gender equality in revenue and social security law scholarship are challenged. Another field of interest is taxation and forestry, especially gender issues concerning women’s ownership and entrepreneurship in the forestry sector.
A research project granted by The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation under the supervision of professor Åsa Gunnarsson, is doing comparative studies of tax structures and tax expenditures as a result of a public/private divide. Another project in this field is an international workshop about Challenging Gender Equality in Tax Policy Making, co-ordinated by Åsa Gunnarsson and hosted by Instituto Internacional de Sociologia Juridica, Oñati, Spain.

Cooperation and Networks

The research theme UGLs is affiliated with Umeå Center for Gender Studies (UCGS). Several researchers are active in the research program Challenging Gender, a Center of Gender Excellence at UCGS.

There is a long tradition of Nordic cooperation and networking in the field of gender and law. In 1998 the Department of Law arranged the 10th Nordic Meeting for Female Lawyers. Since more than 10 years UGLS has cooperated with several researchers in the Nordic countries, for example Anu Pylkkänen and Kevät Nousiainen at the University of Helsinki and Johanna Niemi at the National Research Institute of Legal Policy in Helsinki. Researchers in UGLS have participated in two Nordic anthologies; Responsible Selves. Women in the Nordic legal culture, Ashgate 2001 and Nordic Equality at a Crossroads. Feminist Legal Studies Coping with Difference, Ashgate 2004.

In 2000 Margaret Davies, Flinders University, Australia was a visiting professor at the Department in Law. The cooperation with her has continued in several ways. Amongst others, Margaret Davies was one of the editors for UGLS´ latest anthology, Exploiting the Limits of Law. Swedish Feminism and the Challenge to Pessimism. Eva-Maria Svensson, University of Gothenburg, has also been involved in several projects within UGLS, for example as one of the editors in the latest anthology.

An important network parter for UGLS is The Kent Centre for Law Gender and Sexuality (KCLGS) at Kent Law School, University of Kent. Researchers in UGLS have participated in conferences and workshops arranged by the centre and cooperation has been established with one of the researchers at the centre, Maria Drakopoulou.

Researchers in UGLS are engaged in various arrangements and projects by state bodies, other official authorities and NGO´s in Sweden. For example The Parliament, The Crime Victim Suport and Compensation Authority, Save the Children Sweden, The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and the Women Shelters movement.

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Umeå Forum for Studies on Law and Society has been closed down

Umeå Forum for Studies on Law and Society (Juridiskt forum) at Umeå University was officially closed down on 31 January 2018. Over the course of Spring 2018, the information previously found on its webpages will gradually be moved to other departments.