Vulnerability, agency and the ambivalence of place in narratives of rape in three high-profile Swedish cases

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


For decades, the media have frequently been instrumental in framing rape cases by linking the deed with the place. This study demonstrates that law courts are not innocent of such social framing; on the contrary, they are significant agents. We argue that courts, by shaping the plot in rape cases, participate in an ongoing cultural production of meaning, although in a more subtle and ambivalent way than the media. In a narrative analysis of three contemporary rape cases in Sweden, we bring together feminist research on place with the concepts of vulnerability and agency. We argue that place is framed as ambivalent in relation to vulnerability and agency and dependent on the positioning of the plaintiff and the defendant. In court narratives geographical places are made relevant, including the locations where the alleged rapes took place. Court narratives of rape include highly ambivalent connotations to place in relation to vulnerability and agency, distinguished by different narratives and outcomes in the various instances. The legal and social implications of our work should include an awareness of the relevance of place in relation to rape.


External organisations
  • Malmö University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Law


  • Rape, Court narrative, Place, Vulnerability, Agency, Criminal law
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-209
JournalNORA - Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Aug 23
Publication categoryResearch

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