≡ Menu

The aim of this article is to examine how family policies contribute to changes in family practices and towards gender equality in families. Empirically we draw on interviews with two groups of Polish-born parents: Polish parents who have migrated to Norway and Polish parents living in Poland. Norway and Poland are relevant cases for our exploration because they represent different types of welfare states, which have followed different paths towards their current family policy package. In our analysis of actual work–family adaptations we found a convergence towards gender equal dual-earner/dual-carer arrangements in both groups, although there were differences in the level of agency. Polish parents in Poland felt less entitled to use the measures available to them, and sometimes refrained from using them, compared to Polish parents in Norway who expressed a strong sense of agency in using family policy measures to create a good life in Norway and as part of a project of change towards more gender-equal sharing of work and care responsibilities. The analysis confirms the strong link between family practices and family policies, but also illustrates how the effect of policies on practices may be hampered or boosted by the wider historical-cultural context of the society in question. In conclusion, in analyses of the link between policy and practice it may be fruitful to distinguish between family policy packages—the concrete set of entitlements for working parents—and family policy regimes, meaning policies in their wider context, including migrancy as a mediating factor.

Read the article:

Bjørnholt, Margunn; Stefansen, Kari; Wężyk, Agata; Merecz-Kot, Dorota (2017). The role of family policy regimes in work–family adaptations: Polish parents in Norway and Poland. Central and Eastern European Migration Review. doi: 10.17467/ceemr.2017.12

The research programme Violence in close relationships at the Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies has invited Martha Albertson Fineman, Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Law at Emory University, to speak on her theory of vulnerability in relation to research on violence in close relationships and sexual abuse.

Read more here.

What is the practical and emotional reality of combining paid work and care in a highly developed universal welfare state with high levels of employment of women and strong institutional and ideological support for the dual earner–dual carer model? In this chapter we explore this question using Norway as a case, and drawing on qualitative interviews with both parents of young children and adults who have care responsibilities for older family members or relatives. Using the caringscapes/carescapes framework as sensitizing concepts, we discern two distinct contextual configurations or carescapes. For childcare, there is a standardised cultural script related to responsibilities and timing of transitions, which is supported by an extensive and integrated policy package. Caring for the elderly, in contrast, takes place in a weaker and more fragmented policy context. Caring for the elderly is not embedded in different policy-frameworks regarded as contributing to a higher aim, like gender equality or the best development of the next generation. Nevertheless, we also find that for parents of young children, living up to the new norm of full time work and institutionalization of childcare from an early age, raises new challenges and ambiguities.

Read the chapter:

Bjørnholt, Margunn; Stefansen, Kari;  Gashi, Liridona and Seeberg, Marie Louise (2017). Balancing acts: Policy frameworks and family care strategies in Norway. In Tomáš Sirovátka and Jana Válková (eds), Understanding Care Policies in Changing Times: Experiences and Lessons from the Czech Republic and Norway (pp. 161–184). Masaryk University Press/Centre for Studies of Democracy and Culture. Sociology Series. Volume No. 17. ISBN 978-80-7325-424-7.

In January 2016 I join the Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies (NKVTS) as a research professor, to head a 3-year research project on intimate partner violence, with particular emphasis on gender, equality and power relations. The project is funded by the Ministry of Justice and Public Security and is part of a research program on violence in close relationships, which NKVTS has been tasked by the government with implementing.

This work addresses men, intergenerational transmission and social change, within the context of the change in the theorising and politicising of gender relations in the Nordic countries from the 1950s onwards. [click to continue…]

This edited volume maps new advances in theories and practices in feminist economics and the valuation of women, care and nature since Marilyn Waring’s groundbreaking critique of the system of national accounts, If Women Counted (1988). It features theoretical, practical and policy oriented contributions, empirical studies, and new conceptualizations, theorizations and problematizations of defining and accounting for the value of nature and unpaid household work, eco-feminism, national and international policy processes, gender budgeting, unpaid care and HIV/AIDS policy, activism and artwork, and mirrors the wide-ranging impact and resonance of Waring’s work as well as the current frontiers of feminist economics/eco-feminism.

[click to continue…]

retfaerd_omslag_3_2013I am guest editor of an issue of the journal Retfærd titled Vulnerability as a basis for justice and equality in the Nordic countries, exploring the relevance and possible uses of the legal theorist Martha Albertson Fineman’s vulnerability approach in a Nordic context. [click to continue…]

Policy and Social Research and two partners, Norwegian Social Research (NOVA) and the Department of Occupational Psychology, Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine in Poland, have received a grant from the Polish-Norwegian Research Programme for a study of work–life balance among Polish and Polish–Norwegian couples. The study will be carried out 2013–2016. Read more here.

I am currently organising, together with Joanna Manganara, the IAW president, a side event on the financial crisis, the economic crisis and women that the International Alliance of Women will host in New York on occasion of the 58th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) 10–21 April 2014. I will speak on the “Oil Fund,” creditors’ responsibility for the financial crisis and states’ debt management from a human rights perspective. Read more here.

Bjørnholt, Margunn (2014). Changing men, changing times; fathers and sons from an experimental gender equality study (PDF). The Sociological Review. Published online ahead of print 23 April 2014. doi: 10.1111/1467-954X.12156.


The aim of this article is to develop a conceptual framework for addressing intergenerational transmission, historical change and agency. The framework is employed to analyse the findings from a longitudinal follow-up study over two generations of men, where couples from Norway participated in an experimental research study, the Work-Sharing Couples Project, which aimed to promote egalitarian work–family adaptations in the early 1970s. The original study was based on both spouses working part-time and shift parenting. The follow-up study concluded that the untraditional work–family arrangement had not been passed on to the sons. The article develops a multidimensional analysis of the work–family adaptations of men in two generations: the untraditional adaptation of fathers in the 1970s; and the neo-traditional adaptations of sons in the 2000s.

In developing a four-dimensional approach to intergenerational transmission and social change, the article contributes to the study of intergenerational transmission through the comparison of situated agency in different generations and time/spaces. Taking into account different aspects of time and space, personal biography, discursive and material structures of opportunity, and intergenerational dynamics at the family level as well as at social level, the article contributes to theorising longitudinal qualitative research by linking the micro-level to the macro-level.