Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture

Ethnicity, gender and gender equality

The research area, Ethnicity, Gender and Equality, directs attention towards the interplay between these (and other) categories in human life, society and the cultures where they are deployed.

The research themes are concentrated around education, employment, non-profits, family and reproduction, welfare, integration and politics. The underlying research questions uses personal relations, identity, and structuring constructions of gender, ethnicity and equality as a point of departure.

What understandings of gender, ethnicity and equality are formed and deployed in different arenas? Which categories and phenomena are gender and ethnicities interacting with, under what conditions, to what effect and for whom?

We are working with cultural analysis and other analytical tools to investigate this interplay. An important focus for this work is to analyze what is taken for granted and normalized, as well as the use of power these processes legitimize. 


Current Projects

Living Integration

At the Crossroads between Official Policies, Public Discourses and Everyday Practices

Contact person: Berit Gullikstad

This project will explore how integration is perceived, practised and experienced in political, institutional and everyday practices in selected local communities that have successfully ‘accomplished’ the overarching aim of immigrant integration on the level of labour market participation. The project takes as its starting point an understanding of integration as a contested concept that is negotiated, stabilised and destabilised through politics and everyday life.

We will have a particular focus on asymmetrical structural and symbolic power dimensions of gender, class, and ethnicity.

The research design is based on qualitative research methods and cultural analytical perspectives.

Previous research

Affecting change?

Cultural Politics of sexuality and ’race’ in Norwegian

Ph.D. dissertation defended by Stine Helena Bang Svendsen, 2014.


The point of departure of this PdH dissertation was the reconfiguration of sexual and racial politics in the Norwegian public sphere over the past decade. Both gender equality and homotolerance was transformed from contested political issues to common values that were seen to positively distinguish Norwegian culture in this process. Furthermore, these issues were increasingly taken up to describe both cultural differences and ”cultural conflicts” internationally and in Norway.


This dissertation investigates the cultural configuration of sexuality and ‘race’ in Norwegian education as they appear in textbooks and in classrooms interaction. The analysis highlights the persistence of heteronormalizing and racializing conceptual frameworks in education that aims to combat discrimination. Specifically, it argues that the denial of ‘race’ as a relevant concept in Norwegian public discourse and education currently hinders educational efforts to prevent racism among young people. Furthermore, it sheds light on how affective aspects of classroom interaction can strengthen or work against education that reproduces oppressive social norms.


Buying and Selling (Gender) Equality

Buying and Selling (gender) Equality: Feminized Migration and Gender Equality in Contemporary Norway

The aim of this research project, which ended in 2016, has been to explore the relation between gender equality and the global feminized migration of domestic workers and au pairs. The project was justified by a need for a better understanding of the significance of gender and ethnicity in the formulation of the equality politics of the Norwegian welfare state, with reference to equality between women and men, equality between ethnic majority and ethnic minorities and social/economic levelling. The project has been informed by the concepts of intersectionality and complexity, and has addressed the VAM-program's focus on the significance of inter- and transnational dimensions in the development of the welfare society.

The project has been based at Department of interdisciplinary Studies of Culture and funded by the Norwegian Research Council (NFR) under the programme Welfare, Working life and Migration (VAM) for the period 2011-2014.

More info and publications on the projects webpage

De-gendered Equality Politics?

De-gendered equality politics? The making of a political breakthrough for corporate board gender quotas in Norway

Ph.D. dissertation defended by Siri Øyslebø Sørensen, 2013.

The dissertation explores the controversies and chains of action taking place prior to the introduction of legal regulation of gender balance on corporate boards. Through a qualitative, empirical study of how gender quotas on corporate boards were formulated and staged as a policy reform, the study challenges common ideas about how gender equality politics are shaped. Overall the thesis contributes to an ongoing debate on the need for developing new theoretical and analytical perspectives on gender equality politics.

Experts and Minorities

Experts and minorities in the land of gender equality

The project was financed by the Norwegian Research Council / The Program of Gender Research.


This project explored how the value of gender equality is understood, interpreted and shaped as part of the knowledge base for the welfare state’s experts/street level bureaucrats and in these experts’ field of practice as part of “the women-friendly state”. In particular, the project examined the welfare state’s services to ethnic minorities, whether and how ideas and rhetoric on gender equality contribute to further hierarchy and processes of alienation, and traces of opposition or crosscurrents against the dominant understanding.


The project studied how understandings of gender equality are intertwined with understandings of gender, ethnicity/race and sexuality and how these produce categories of majority and minority.  In this way the project has contributed to theories of (gender) equality.


Follow this link to Jana Sverdljuks ph.d-dissertation for more information.


Gender Equality as Cultural Borderline

Gender Equality as a Cultural Borderline – between ”Us” and ”Them”

The project was financed by the Norwegian Research Council / The Program of Gender Research.


This project explored how Norwegian work organizations changing from a homogeneous to a heterogeneous work staff handle this situation in the light of equality politics and diversity politics. A main finding is how the categories of gender, ethnicity/race and sexuality intersect in various ways and make some employees more preferable and appropriate than others.




"Mirror, mirror on the wall, who´s most powerful of them all?"

The primary goal of the Mirror, mirror project (2013-2016) was to explore the cultural and social dynamics of gender in influential sectors of society, such as the financial elite, the petrolium industry and the military. What is it about gender, power, and leadership that create a situation wherein men continue to be the leaders of powerful organizations, and how can one think politically about it? This project set out to demonstrate how perspectives from the Humanities and cultural theoretical perspectives can provide insight into the symbolic and cultural meanings of gendered power.

The project addressed questions such as: What symbolic constructions of gender and leadership are found in powerful organizations, as well as in alternative political organizations, and political visions? How are these symbolic constructions connected with structural distribution of power between the sexes? What are the backward-looking and/or forward-looking scientific, cultural, and symbolic meanings of gendered power? How do cultural representations effect recruitment and career development of women and men in the organizations?

More information on the projects webpage 


Queer Challenges to the Norwegian Policies

Queer Challenges to the Norwegian Policies and Practices of Immigration: Asylum seeking in Norway on the grounds of sexual orientation-based persecution

Ph.D. dissertation defended by Deniz Akin, 2017.


This project expored how the cases of queer asylum seekers are assessed in Norway, by focusing on Norway's treatment of queer asylum seekers application for protection. The project was primarily investigating the following research question:


How do Norwegian immigration authorities understand a genuine sexual orientation and a credible risk of persecution that determine queer claimants' entitlement to asylum in Norway? 


The empirical material consists of Norwegian legislation and interviews with caseworkers at The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration and Asylum Seekers.

Selected Publications

A list of some of our publications

Akin, Deniz (2016) "Queer asylum seekers: translating sexuality in Norway". I Journal of ethnic and migration studies
  • Ravn, Malin Noem, Guro Korsnes Kristensen & Siri Øyslebø Sørensen (red) (2016): "Reproduksjon, kjønn og likestilling i dagens Norge". Bergen: Fagbokforlaget
  • Gullikstad, B., Kristensen, G. and Ringrose, P. (eds.) (2016): "Paid Migrant Domestic Labour in a Changing Europe. Questions of Gender Equality and Citizenship". Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Ringrose, Priscilla (2016): "A Crueller Shade of Optimism? Granny Au Pairs in Online French News Media". I Feminist Media Studies 16 (6).
  • Annfelt, Trine (2015): "Et kolumbi egg? Au pairordningen og diskursen om kulturutveksling". I Tidsskrift for kjønnsforskning. 39 (3-4): 185- 203.
  • Bolsø, Agnes; Mühleisen, Wencke (2015) "Framstillinger av kvinner kledd for makt". I Tidsskrift for kjønnsforskning, 39(3-4)
  • Kristensen, Guro Korsnes (2015): "Hjemme- og lønnsarbeidets mening og verdi. Norske pars fortellinger om det å kjøpe private husholds- og omsorgstjenester". I Tidsskrift for kjønnsforskning, 39 (3-4)
  • Stubberud, Elisabeth (2015): "Framing the Au Pair: Problems of Sex, Work and Motherhood in Norwegian Au Pair Documentaries". I NORA 23 (2).
  • Kristensen, Guro Korsnes and Malin Noem Ravn (2015): "The voices heard and the voices silenced. Recruitment prosesses in qualitative interview studies". I Qualitative Research 15 (6)
  • Sørensen, Siri Øyslebø (2014): "Fortellinger om feminisme og motforestillinger mot statsfeminisme. En analyse av norske avistekster 2007-2011". I Tidsskrift for kjønnsforskning 38(3-4)
  • Annfelt, Trine og Berit Gullikstad, (2013): "Kjønnslikestilling i inkluderingens tjeneste?" I Tidsskrift for kjønnsforskning 37 (3-4)
  • Berg, Anne-Jorunn, Anne Britt Flemmen og Berit Gullikstad (red) (2010): "Likestilte norskheter. Om kjønn og likestilling." Trondheim: Tapir Akademisk forlag 

Refer to the database Cristin for more of our publications