Rebecca Selberg

Senior Lecturer, PhD

Research areas and keywords

UKÄ subject classification

  • Social Sciences



My research interests are focused on working life, inequality and social change, New Public Management and the public sector. I depart from an intersectional perspective and engage in issues of gender, class, ethnicity/race and economy.

Previous research has focused on the formation of classed and racialized femininities in care work, and the links between varying forms of femininities and neoliberal management practices such as NPM. I have also explored inequality and gender within academia. 

While I teach both quantitative, qualitative and multi-methods courses, my own research in located within the tradition of feminist ethnography, especially Institutional ethnography and extended case studies. 


I currently work on two projects.

Exit, voice and loyalty - an intersectional study on professional turnover among nurses and social workers (Rebecca Selberg, Paula Mulinari, Magnus Sandberg)

It is well known that nurses and social workers, in Sweden as well as in other countries around the globe, have a tendency to resign early. The main reasons for early exit are to found in the psycho-social working environment, burnout, low control and poor support systems. However, despite a wealth of research on professional exit in these occupations, less is known about the precise factors propelling exit, especially from an intersectional perspective.

The public sector has been important to women for two reasons: women depend on its services to be able to participate in paid work, and they depend on it for employment. How come then, that the public sector now seems to be unable to keep women employed for a longer time? Why is exit such a common strategy for women in nursing and social work, and how can this be understood in relation to current forms of industrial relations?

The aim of this study is to increase knowledge of correlations between early professional exit and social relations of power based in categories of gender, ethnicity and class. The project further aims at exploring the relationship between new management models within the public sector, and nurses’ and social workers’ intentions to leave their jobs.

In order to capture individual as well as collective and organizational experiences of exit, this study employs a mixed methods approach that combines a survey questionnaire with ethnographic studies in five workplaces. The mixed methods approach is employed in order to better capture complexities of exit mechanisms.


Nailing New Femininities - an institutional ethnography on new forms of labor and consumption

Manicure and pedicure represent the fastest growing segment within the Swedish beauty industry, and nail technician is becoming an increasingly common career path for women in Sweden. The image of the nail salon, however, is conflicting; on the one hand, it is represented as a space for women’s enterprise in aesthetic labor and new forms of commodified care practices. On the other hand, it can be viewed as an example of the precarious employment conditions opening up at the crossroads between public and private in times of neoliberal globalization. Despite the growing international interest in issues of embodiment and the cultural and economic meanings of increased consumption of goods and services in what has been conceptualized as “body maintenance” and “body modification” industry, few studies in the Scandinavian context have paid specific attention to the people – a majority of which are women – performing such body-related services. There is a need for new research into the conditions and experiences of work of those employed, formally or informally, at workplaces providing consumers with body-related services. The aim of this project, an institutional ethnography of three different types of nail salons, is to explore manicure as work, as commodity and as an expression of the increasing significance of embodied attributes in relation to hierarchies of gender, sexualities, race/ethnicity, class and the interpellation of workers in different contexts. The focus of the project is on the conditions of work and career possibilities for employees and entrepreneurs in the nail salon business in Sweden. Research questions include: How is this type of body work organized, regulated and performed at the workplace level? What is the role of emotional labor and the doing of femininity in shaping interactions and workplace identities? What are the relationships between service workers and clients in different types of nail salons?


I am Director of Studies at Department of Gender Studies. 

I have some experience of teaching quantitative methods and extensive experience of teaching qualitative methods for the social sciences. For courses on feminist theory I often focus on materialist/Marxist feminism, intersectional perspectives, theories of power and political economy. 

I do thesis supervision on bachelor and master level. 

Recent research outputs

Rebecca Selberg, 2017 Dec 1, In : Sociologisk Forskning. 54, 4, p. 390-393 3 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview (Book/Film/Exhibition/etc.)

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