NSfK Research Grants 2020 – Abstracts of funded projects

NSfK Research Grants 2020 – Abstracts of funded projects

Co-Nordic project, project leader Isabel Schoultz:
‘Law in action’ – Policy and legal responses to the exploitation of migrant workers in the Nordic countries

While the Nordic countries are well-known for the welfare systems, equality and good working conditions, migrant workers are at the same time exploited in these countries in sectors such as construction, service, logistic and transport, horticulture and agriculture. Beyond the similarities between these Nordic countries, previous research indicates that the Nordic countries have approached and responded to the issue of labour exploitation of migrant workers in rather different ways when it comes to both policy intentions and ’law in action’.

In order to understand how the ‘problem’ of labour exploitation is addressed in the Nordic region, the purpose of this proposed joint project is to explore how ‘policy intentions’ are interpreted and transformed into ‘law in action’ aimed at countering the exploitation of migrant workers in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.

By distinguishing between ‘policy intentions’ (in form of action plans, legislations, policy reports etc.) and ‘law in action’ (in form of court cases) the project will analyse how parallel and competing Nordic problem representations, such as ‘social dumping’, ‘human trafficking’, ‘work related crime’ and ‘extortionate work discrimination’ have emerged and manifested themselves within and across the Nordic countries.

Research team:
Sweden         Isabel Schoultz, Department of Sociology of Law, Lund University
E-mail: isabel.schoultz[at]soclaw.lu.se
Denmark      Marlene Spanger, Department of Politics and Society, Aalborg University
E-mail: spanger[at]dps.aau.dk
Norway        Synnøve Jahnsen, NORCE Norwegian Research Centre AS
E-mail: syja[at]norceresearch.no
Finland         Natalia Ollus, the European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control, affiliated with the United Nations (HEUNI)
E-mail: natalia.ollus[at]om.fi
Anniina Jokinen (HEUNI)
E-mail: anniina.jokinen[at]om.fi


Robin Gålnander:
Debt and Desistance in the Welfare State – Women’s Experiences of Coping with Debt when Desisting from Crime

The research project seeks to further develop an under-researched and under-theorized phenomena within the expanding field of desistance research. The financial struggles inherent in any desistance process can be gleaned from a plethora of studies (see e.g. Bottoms & Shapland 2011; Grundetjern & Miller 2018; 20200064 29.11.2019 Sivu: 1 Todd-Kvam 2019) – but this factor has yet to be brought to the core of the discourse on desistance from crime.

People with convictions often struggle with limited economic capital (Todd-Kvam 2019), and research has also shown that people involved in criminal careers take a significant “pay cut” when striving to change their lives, desist from crime and engage with mainstream society (Bottoms & Shapland 2011; Grundetjern & Miller 2018). Furthermore, convicted people often struggle with significant and persistent debts, which might present barriers to desistance and (re)integration into society. Although an understudied phenomena, some research on the topic of debts among people with convictions has been undertaken in the Nordic context (see Todd-Kvam 2019; Aaltonen, Oksanen & Kivivuori 2016).

Applying a qualitative and longitudinal approach, this interview-based study will bring desister’s economic struggle to the fore, with a specific focus on their coping with debts within processes of desistance. Drawing on the existing Nordic literature on debts among convicted people, this research project will set out to place the Nordic understanding of debts in desistance in the forefront of the international study of processes of desistance.

Contact information:
Robin Gålnander, Department of Criminology Stockholm University, Sweden
E-mail: robin.galnander[at]criminology.su.se
Phone: +46(0)8-163173
Website: https://www.su.se/english/profiles/rokr1736-1.220021


Anita Heber and Victor Lund Shammas:
The Crimes of Others: Migration and Crime in Norwegian and Swedish Political Debate

Political parties in Norway and Sweden are deeply concerned with migration and crime. Despite declining crime levels, migration flows have increasingly been perceived as a threat to security. Political discourses determine policing and sentencing practices. If one is to make sense of these institutional practices, understanding current Norwegian and Swedish political debates on migration and crime is crucial. This study explores how migrants have come to be associated with crime and analyzes proposed policies to deal with this perceived interlinkage.

Our project aims to construct a typological portrait of specifically Norwegian and Swedish discourses and responses to the intertwining of immigration and crime. Our three key concepts, which we also aim to explore empirically, are crimmigration, ethnonationalism, and security. Methodologically, we will study political documents, political debates, as well as newspaper editorials and opinion pieces. We will analyze the current state of the political discourse by examining so-called nodal points, i.e. the hubs around which the discourse revolves (e.g. the Norwegian term “svenske tilstander”).

We will also study which components these nodal points are linked to. This methodology allows us to clearly compare the specific national discourses. The study’s originality lies in how it explores and problematizes the debate on migration and crime from a cross-national perspective. The study fills in gaps in previous research and deepens our criminological understanding of how migration and crime come to be politicized.

Our aim is to outline a new critical narrative of the contemporary phenomenon of crimmigration in two Nordic welfarist societies.

Contact information:
Dr. Anita Heber, Associate Professor, Department of Criminology, Stockholm University
E-mail: anita.heber[at]criminology.su.se
Dr. Victor Shammas, Senior Researcher, Work Research Institute, Oslo Metropolitan University


Maija Helminen:
Support and control? Research on the cooperation between the voluntary sector organizations and the penal system in Finland

This project contributes to an overlooked research area in the Nordic countries; the cooperation between the voluntary sector organizations (VSOs) and the penal system.

VSOs have a long history as sources of support and even control for (ex-)offenders in the Nordic countries (Svensson 2004; Huhtala 1984). Yet, VSOs have not attracted much research.

Considering the emergence of the Nordic VSOs working with (ex-)offenders at the turn of the millennium, research in this area is needed, for instance, in order to understand better the possible benefits and challenges associated with the VSOs’ work in the penal system.

This project examines the cooperation between the VSOs, prisons and probation offices in Finland and it lays the foundation for further research in this area in the other Nordic countries. The findings can be used by prisons, probation offices and VSOs.

Research questions of the project: 1) What is the volume and nature of the VSOs’ cooperation with the prisons and probation offices in Finland? 2) What kinds of benefits, challenges and outcomes (if any) are associated with the VSOs’ cooperation with the prisons and probation offices in Finland? 3) Whether the possible benefits, challenges and outcomes associated with the VSOs’ cooperation with the prisons and probation offices in Finland are similar or dissimilar to those found in the international penal voluntary sector research? 4) Whether the concept ‘inclusionary control’ (Tomczak and Thompson 2019) can be used to understand the work of the Finnish VSOs in the penal system? Both qualitative and quantitative methods are applied in the project.

The research data consists of interviews with prison, probation office and VSO staff and surveys sent to the staff from prisons and probation offices.

Contact information:
Maija Helminen
E-mail: anmahel[at]utu.fi
Mia Kilpeläinen
E-mail: mia.kilpelainen[at]uef.fi


Mathilde Salskov Sams:
Back on Track: A qualitative study of opportunities and challenges associated with resocializing sex offenders in Greenland

The purpose of this PhD project is to investigate whether the use of restorative justice practices can help resocialize offenders with a sexual behaviour towards children and adolescents. The project involves both convicted offenders and offenders where a police charge did not result in conviction.

Resocialization means actions that help an offender restore a normal life in society and not repeat their crime. The main assumption is that studying the opportunities and challenges associated with resocialization of offenders can build a knowledge base that practitioners can implement.

I will conduct a systematic literature review in order to clarify which evidence-based resocializing and restorative practices exist in countries similar to Greenland. As the project will assess the opportunities and challenges of resocializing efforts for people with sexually abusive behaviour towards children, and whether the practices can be carried out in a Greenlandic context, knowledge gathering should take place via semi-structured interviews with key informants.

Finally, with this project, I want to give attention to an underexposed area in which the results of the project can contribute to create a research-based change for sexual offenders in Green-land. When offenders are resocialised and do not repeat their crime, this will have a positive effect on the small societies.

This project takes place in a collaboration between the University of Greenland and Aalborg University. Not only will this cooperation expand my network, but it will also give me the opportunity to be a part of two Nordic research environments.

Contact information:
Mathilde Salskov Sams
E-mail: Mathildesalskovsams[at]gmail.com
Phone: +45 60 61 01 82