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Lena Svenaeus

Lena Svenaeus

Visiting research fellow

Lena Svenaeus

Konsten att upprätthålla löneskillnader mellan kvinnor och män : En rättssociologisk studie av regler i lag och avtal om lika lön


  • Lena Svenaeus

Summary, in English

This dissertation, entitled “The Art of Preserving the Gender Pay Gap,” is a study in the sociology of law. It examines the obstructions to the principle of equal pay that persist in the face of international conventions and EU legislation that have mandated changes to legislation and collective bargaining agreements. The dissertation seeks to investigate and explain how the pay gap between women and men is created and recreated on an ideological level. The study covers three periods when – as a result of international conventions and EU law – a new norm was introduced on the labour market, to the effect that wages should be set without regard to gender and equal wages should be paid for equal work or work of equal value. A methodological combination of legal
dogmatics and discourse analysis is used to show that regulatory interventions that were advertised as introducing an equal pay norm in fact served to reproduce the gendered values that prevailed on the labour market.
The study uncovers factors that have been critical in creating and recreating the gender pay gap under the old structure of values. These factors appear in a particular pattern. Within this pattern, gender and power act in combination. Inequality regimes – a term used by women’s studies scholar Joan Acker to describe how inequality is perpetuated inside organizations – are kept alive by persons and groups who exert power over the field of labour law. The factors that sustain the gender pay gap include the ways that particular actors exercise power, the ways that structures limit agency, and not least of all the interplay between actors and structures. The issue of who is given responsibility and power to shape legislation and collective agreements is an important part of the solution to wage discrimination; so are the types of knowledge that are brought to bear on the problem. Bourdieu’s theory of action and the analytical apparatus offered by his terminology of fields, habitus and symbolic capital underpin the power analysis presented here.

Looking at the typical pattern of pay gap perpetuation, it is noteworthy that knowledge necessary to address gender discrimination has repeatedly been ignored. One would have to ensure that knowledge is not only available but also deployed by persons, organizations and institutions in strong positions on the labour market. Knowledge needs forceful advocates. Knowledge is linked to power and those who exercise it. Since the merging of all government ombudsman offices into a single agency oversight has taken a back seat to informational activities. The discussion in this part of the dissertation takes cognizance of the fact that norm researchers usually emphasize the importance of oversight and sanctions when a new norm is introduced into a change-resistant environment. The final section of the dissertation explores how legislative tools may be improved to help close the gender pay gap.


  • Department of Sociology of Law

Publishing year




Document type



Lund University


  • Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified


  • Rättssociologi
  • Kollektivavtal
  • Löneskillnader mellan kvinnor och män
  • Lika lön för likvärdigt arbete
  • Intervenerande normer
  • Arbetsmarknadens parters värderingar
  • Marknadskrafter
  • Collective agreements
  • Equal pay for work of equal value
  • Gender pay gap
  • Intervening norms
  • Market forces
  • Social partners




  • Eva Schömer
  • Håkan Hydén


  • ISBN: 978-91-7753-151-7
  • ISBN: 978-91-7753-150-0

Defence date

3 March 2017

Defence time


Defence place

Pufendorf, Juridiska fakulteten, Lilla Gråbrödersgatan 3C, Lund


  • Eva-Maria Svensson (Professor)