Category Archives: Book Chapters

Families and Family Policies in Sweden: My Book Chapter

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A year ago I received notice that the book Handbook of Family Policies Across the Globe would be coming out in the summer of 2013. I was so elated, as Disa Bergnehr and I had spent time researching and writing a chapter of this book entitled Families and Family Policies in Sweden.

 

And then the book arrived and has been sitting on my bookshelf ever since, pulling it out to find sources or pretend to show-off by having my name in a book. But that’s because I know the material.

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The information in my book chapter is highly important. The chapter consists of Sweden’s family policies, ranging from domestic abuse to same-sex marriage to children’s rights to parental leave.

Anyone wanting to know more about Sweden and how it operates can easily read this chapter and get a nice overview of the benefits and struggles within Swedish family policy.

To see the abstract click here or read below.

To read an unpublished version of this book chapter click here.

To read my official book chapter and learn about all of the family policies across the globe, you can purchase the book here. The book includes reviews from 28 countries around the globe and from every continent (minus Antarctica).

Abstract:

Sweden is known as a social welfare state, whereby the people who reside in Sweden are entitled to certain public benefits at little or no cost to the individual. Over the past century, Sweden has reshaped its culture, growing from one of the poorest nations in Europe to a flourishing country that others emulate, especially with respect to their family policies. Sweden has developed several foundational family policies that have helped to encourage equality, while establishing a sense of individuality. Sweden has created similar rights for cohabiters/married couples, as well as for same-sex/opposite-sex couples. Parents receive a generous parental leave package, flexible employment choices, and there is a low gender wage gap, while children receive high-quality childcare, free health care, free dental care, free mental health services, and a substantial child welfare program. Swedish family policies encourage both parents to work and to help each other with household and childcare tasks. Despite the public benefits that Sweden provides for mothers, fathers, and children, there is still a need for further improvements regarding policies on domestic violence, poverty, and child welfare. Assessments of Sweden’s family policies are discussed.

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First (book chapter) publication: Using Semiotics to Research Father Involvement in Sweden Child Health Care Centers

In the summer of 2008, I flew over to Sweden for the first time. In fact, I flew the day I graduated from Ohio State University with my master’s degree in Human Development and Family Science.

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I was offered a 3 month summer job doing fatherhood research for Dr Anna Sarkadi (see her blog here), Uppsala University.

I was quickly assigned to travel around Sweden in order to see why fathers weren’t visiting the Child Health Centers (Barnavårdscentral [BVC] in Swedish) as often as mothers. I went to 6 different counties; heading into cities like Stockholm, Gothenburg and Uppsala to rural areas like Tanumshede and in between places like Mora and Leksand.

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I set off to find out what some of the barriers and obstacles might be by interviewing nurse from the Child Health Centers on how they involve fathers, as well as assessed the waiting room environment.

Assessing the waiting room was quite novel and unique. We used a process called semiotics, which helps people to understand a picture at both its manifest and latent level. The manifest level tells exactly what’s seen in a picture, while the latent analysis tells what is meant by that picture.

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So for example, when looking at gender differences:  At the manifest level, these pictures on the bulletin board shows a woman running (physical activity), while a man is smoking (tobacco habits). The other two pictures are not of people, and therefore are excluded from this analysis. Latent: These pictures convey a positive health message about women and a negative health message about men.

Before this analysis, semiotics was just used to describe one picture. What we’ve since done was to say that an entire environment can be assessed using this technique. So we (Jonas Engman, Anna Sarkadi, and myself) analyzed each picture of men, women, and children (differentiating men from fathers and women from mothers if there were or were not children in that picture) and then tallied them up to see how many messages on the manifest level were there related to men/fathers, women/mothers, and children and then how many of those were positive or negative.

If the room was mostly equal between these three groups, then it was termed Family Oriented, meaning that all members of the family were welcome. However, if one of the family members was missing, then different terms were used such as, mother-child oriented, woman oriented, and child oriented. A fifth group was termed neutral, as there were no pictures of people on the wall within the waiting room.

My first book chapter was published with co-author Jonas Engman in the Swedish-written book Föräldrastöd i Sverige idag – Vad, När, och Hur? (Parental Support in Sweden today – What, When and How?

The book chapter is linked in here: BVC Book Chapter

My chapter

The English article is published in the journal Semiotica.

If you analyzed this picture, what would be the manifest and latent analysis (viewing only the picture, not the words):

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Handbook of Family Policies Around the Globe: Lessons from Networking

A couple of years ago I met Dr Mihaela Robila at a conference called the Society for Cross-Cultural Research Conference. By luck, or the fact that we had similar research topics, I gave a presentation with her.

We both were discussing family policy issues–hers on Eastern Europe and mine on Sweden. Two other presenters also discussed their various countries and how family policy affects them.

After the presentation Dr Robila asked if we would be interested in turning our presentations into book chapters. We all agreed that it would be a great idea, and Dr Robila went off to Springer to see if they would like to publish a book on families policies from different countries around the world.

After receiving the go-ahead (that the publisher was interested), she posted on several sites announcing the book and what the criteria would be for each chapter. For example, on the National Council on Family Relations page, she posted a flier asking for interest (and from Springer).

Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 1.48.49 PMSeveral researchers responded to her call, and now a 500 page book has been created entitled Handbook of Family Policies Around the Globe. According to the publisher, Springer, the book will be available in mid-June of 2013, and is intended for scholars, researchers, and graduate students who study family policy.

 

The book contains information on family policies from different countries’ perspectives from 6 continents (aka, all but Antarctica). Of course it doesn’t have every single country, but it does go through dozens of them, including the chapter that I, along with Disa Bergnehr, wrote on Family Policies in Sweden.