Buying and Selling (gender) Equality

The main objective of the project is to contribute to better understanding of the significance of gender and ethnicity in the formulation of the equality politics of the Norwegian welfare state.

Responsible institution:

Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Project leader: 

Professor Trine Annfelt

Time period:




The main objective will be carried out by exploring whether gender mainstreaming as a policy discourse and practice depends on the production of inequality based on intersections of class, ethnicity and gender. We will investigate how gender equality today tangles itself into the majoritising and marginalising processes. One sub-objective of the project is to elucidate the relationship between feminized migration to Norway and work outside the regular labor market (au pairs and domestic cleaners). Another sub-objective is to synthesize knowledge from this project with the knowledge of similar processes in other European countries.


Project Summary: 

This project will study the relation between gender equality and global feminized migration. The project is justified by the need for a deeper understanding of the significance of gender and ethnicity in the formulation of the equality politics of the welfare state.

Maternal participation in the labour market combined with the fathers' participation in the family is incorporated as gender mainstreaming. This way of organizing everyday life is particularly dominant in the middle class, but the ideal is of vital importance to the collective identity of all Norwegians.

On a global market women have become pioneers of migration. By offering services as domestic workers outside the regular labour market they contribute to resolving conflicts related to work-life balance. This project examines these solutions empirically. Do such solutions interfere with the goals of the welfare state concerning equality and social/economic equalization with respect to gender, ethnicity and class? Does gender mainstreaming minimise one social inequality by producing new ones?

The project will examine how gender, "race"/ethnicity, class and nation play together in the Norwegian employers attitudes towards employment of migrant domestic workers.The experience of migrant workers doing domestic services in Norwegian households is examined as well, together with public debates and policy documents about these phenomena. Based on feminist postcolonial theory, we ask whether and how the new every-day-life practices and social imaginaries contributes in the structuring of Norwegianness and otherness - and support boundaries between "us" and "them" territorially and culturally.

We will be involved in cooperation with other European researchers that investigate the rise of ethnic divisions in different welfare state systems. The project will also form part of the Nordic Center of Exellence in Welfare Research: The Nordic Welfare State - historical foundations and future challenges.

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