Ideology or Science?

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During the last decade, gender research has been the object of public and political debate in the Nordic countries. In the wake of the Norwegian documentary Hjernevask (2010), gender research was depicted as pseudo-scientific, and in Sweden debates on gender research escalated when the Swedish government in 2016 required that the Swedish research councils should integrate sex and gender perspectives in the evaluation process whenever this is deemed to be of relevance, which critics described as an effect of feminist political hegemony. On June 1, 2021, the Danish parliament passed a bill aimed at "excessive activism in certain research circles" and "pseudo sciences", which especially targeted gender research and other critical research fields.  

These cases illustrate how categories such as objectivity and value-free science is used to depict gender research as ideologically driven and not scientifically trustworthy. Within feminist theory of science, consensus has since long held that objectivity and/or cognitive values are inevitably enmeshed with value-judgements and moral-political ideas. This outlook conflicts with the view on science of those who are attacking gender research for being an ideology, but equally so with those who are defending gender research with the argument that it is a regular science. 

This panel invites papers that shed light on ongoing political and public debates on gender research in the Nordic region as well as in other countries. Questions of interest are, however not exclusively: 

  • What conceptions of science and ideology are produced and reproduced in debates on gender research? 
  • What tools do various traditions of feminist theory of science offer to interpret and counteract the current critique of gender research? 
  • How does the ongoing debates and public research policies in the Nordic countries relate to the emergence of anti-gender movements worldwide? 


Vanja Carlsson is senior lecturer at the School of public administration, University of Gothenburg and a post doc in Political science, Karlstad university. Her research interests are public policy and governance. She has studied the EU gender equality policy and the public governance of digital technological change. She has published articles in journals such as NORA, Tidsskrift för genusvetenskap and Statsvetenskaplig tidskrift. 

Evelina Johansson Wilén is senior lecturer and researcher in Gender Studies at the School of Humanities, Education and Social Science, University of Örebro. She researches feminist and anti-feminist movement and feminist research policies within a Swedish context. She has published in journals such as Feminist theory, NORA, and Tidskrift för genusvetenskap and has recently edited an anthology on ideology critique (Studentlitteratur).  

Johan Söderberg is associate professor in Theory of Science at the Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science, University of Gothenburg, and associate editor of Science as Culture. He researches how the boundary is drawn by different actors between scientific knowledge claims and ideology. He has published in journals such as Science as Culture, Science, Technology, and Human Values and Tidskrift för genusvetenskap. 

Published Sep. 20, 2021 1:52 PM - Last modified Sep. 21, 2021 2:57 PM