Abstract

This paper contributes a Swedish perspective on how selected feminist movement ideas, such as women’s right to economic independence, are being appropriated by neoliberal policies. Swedish governments have argued that opening up the publicly funded eldercare sector to private providers would advance entrepreneurship undertaken by women and immigrants. In this article, we critically explore the ambiguity of the gender equality and ethnic diversity arguments used to justify private sector involvement in publicly funded eldercare in Sweden. We draw upon Carol Bacchi’s theory of policies as gendering practices to argue that the discourses of equal opportunity underpinning the politics of entrepreneurship in the home care sector obscure and recreate inequalities. Our analysis, based on interviews with politicians, public officials and interest organizations involved in the market for Swedish eldercare, shows that the politics of entrepreneurship in the home care sector privilege entrepreneurs who reflect the white masculine gendering of entrepreneurship and disadvantage those with subject positions deviating from the normative entrepreneur. Our findings suggest that policy-engineered entrepreneurship is a poor tool in the struggle for gender equality, as this kind of policymaking is likely to operate in tandem with gendering and racializing practices that impede socioeconomic progress.

Keywords: Care work, feminism, gender equality, marketization, neoliberalism

Brodin, H. & Peterson, H. (2019). Equal Opportunities? Gendering and Racialising the Politics of Entrepreneurship in Swedish Eldercare. NORA - Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research, December 2019. https://doi.org/10.1080/08038740.2019.1698653