Institutional Power and Migrant Family Disadvantages in the Nordic Welfare State with Camilla Nordberg

Tuesday March 21, 2023
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
C.K. Choi Building, Room 231

Lunch sandwiches will be provided. Please RSVP below.


Familyhood’ as an objective of regulation in nation-states has long roots. This presentation addresses the politicized category of the “migrant family” from a perspective of day-to-day institutional encounters with local welfare services in Finland.

Set in the context of a restructuring Nordic welfare state, we draw on ethnographic data, produced in 2018-2020, to bring to the fore how tensions between personhood and familyhood are activated through agenda-setting practices and bureaucratic categorization. The data constitutes observations of encounters between welfare service professionals and forced migrant background service users, short reflections with professionals after observed encounters, interviews with service users and professionals as well as focus groups with managers.

With a focus on the interplay between broader cultural scripts and everyday practices, the presentation finally discusses the workings of institutional power, migrancy and gender-differentiated paths to citizenship and participation for structurally vulnerable newcomers.


Camilla Nordberg is an Associate Professor in Social Policy at Åbo Akademi University, and currently a visiting scholar at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. Her research has revolved around the migration welfare state nexus, focusing on issues of citizenship, power, social justice and street-level institutional encounters.

After her doctoral degree in Social Policy in 2007, she was appointed Senior Lecturer in Social Work at the University of Helsinki (2007-2017). Since 2018, she is a Senior Lecturer in Social Policy at Åbo Akademi University. Camille held an Academy Research Fellowship for the project “Citizenisation in the local welfare state: migrant mothers’ everyday life in restructuring urban settings” (2013-2018) and she is the project leader of the ongoing project “Ordering the ‘Migrant Family’: Power Asymmetry Work and Citizenization in Welfare Professional Bureaucracies” (2017–2023, Academy of Finland). Camille is affiliated with the Center of Excellence in Research on Aging and Care at the University of Helsinki. In 2015-2016 she was a visiting scholar at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.