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Transnational perspectives on Nordic gender equality and welfare

This is the study programme for 2020/2021.

In this course, we will investigate Nordic gender equality and welfare models from a transnational perspective. We will discuss some of the key features of gender equality and welfare theory, policy and politics in the Nordic social-democratic tradition, including work-life balance, the role of the state, the extent of "women friendliness", and intersectional gender theories and politics. The course aims also to think through growing critiques of the dominant Nordic equality norm, for example for being heteronormative, nationalistic, based on racial principles and unsustainable consumption patterns. We will do this by considering increasing research focus on indigenous communities, immigration, global chains of care, and environmental challenges, to mention a few areas. The overarching questions that this course will focus on are urgent matters that have transnational reach and relevance: Is the Nordic model applicable to transnational contexts? How have equality and welfare ideologies changed over time, from the 1970s 'golden era' of "women-friendliness" (Hernes 1987), through the neoliberal 1980s with the shrinking of the welfare state, and through to the current era of expanding cultural and political heterogeneities across and beyond the Nordic region (Keskinen, Skaptadottir and Toivanen 2019: 9)? To what extent do Nordic gender equality principles connect to a growing emphasis on prosperity and wellbeing detached from capitalist economic models, in order to face climate change and environmental crises?

Learning outcome

  • Knowledge about key theoretical and policy frameworks for understanding gender equality and welfare perspectives in the Nordic countries, as well as their transnational perspectives
  • Knowledge about similarities and differences between the Nordic countries and variations based on intersectional approaches to equality
  • Knowledge about critical transnational approaches to the dominant Nordic equality and welfare model
  • Knowledge about key concepts in the field and their differences, such as intersectionality, equality, equity, justice and prosperity

  • Analyse and critically discuss characteristics of Nordic gender equality and how they relate to the Nordic welfare-state model in scholarship and policy
  • Analyse and critically asses a variety of challenges to gender equality and diversity
  • Analyse how Nordic models of gender equality and welfare have been developed and implemented in the Nordic countries, and how these policies have been received on a global scale
  • Analyse and critically discuss Nordic approaches to gender equality and welfare in a comparative context

  • Ability to demonstrate a deep understanding of Nordic gender equality from a comparative perspective
  • Ability to apply critical perspectives to dominant understandings of Nordic gender equality and welfare, including the ways in which they challenge an emergent alternative framework for global prosperity, justice and wellbeing
  • Ability to apply critical perspectives and reflect on gender equality and diversity in various professional and educational situations


The purpose of this course is to introduce students to an interdisciplinary field of scholarship, which seeks to understand the emergence, proliferation and spread of a specifically Nordic model of gender equality and welfare. After tracing the establishment of the paradigm of "gender equality" in a Nordic social-democratic welfare context, the course discusses contemporary issues, such as work-life balance, intersectional understandings of gender and inequality, global chains of care, and various approaches to prosperity, justice and sustainability. Alongside the Nordic focus, the course actively incorporates transnational perspectives on the topics covered. A principal aim of the course is to introduce students to a body of critical scholarship on dominant Nordic gender equality and welfare discourses, and their transnational connections, as well as to questions of inequality, power, and environmental challenges.

Required prerequisite knowledge

Completed bachelor degree


Weight Duration Marks Aid
Term paper1/11 A - F
The exam for this course is a term paper (ca 3000 words). The topic is made available from early in the term, and students will receive individual and group based supervision during the writing process. Active participation in project seminars is expected, as is group presentations. The term paper will be graded A-F

Coursework requirements

Mid-term essay
Two compulsory, written assignments must be submitted individually. This assignment will be given a pass/fail grade. Failure to pass this compulsory assignment will disqualify the student from taking the final exam.

Course teacher(s)

Course coordinator
Elisabeth Lund Engebretsen

Method of work

The course consists of weekly sessions. These sessions will include lectures, seminars, group work and individual work - adapted to different modes of study. All students are expected to read the syllabus and participate in group discussions and thereby develop analytic reflections in a productive environment with fellow students. This will be done on and off campus, and the course coordinator will facilitate a digital learning platform (Canvas). The working language for this course is English.

Overlapping courses

Course Reduction (SP)
Transnational perspectives on Nordic gender equality and welfare (GEN330_1) 10

Open to

All students on a master's programme at the University of Stavanger.

Exchange students.

Course assessment

Student evaluation will be carried out in accordance with the evaluation system at the Faculty of Social Sciencs


Link to reading list

This is the study programme for 2020/2021.

Sist oppdatert: 04.08.2020