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Lars Crusefalk ends PhD student journey and transitions to Doctor of Sociology

A sitting man in a blue shirt and a long haired blond person in the foreground

On 11 May, Lars Crusefalk finished his PhD studies with a successful defence of his thesis "Financial journeys: Reasoning about debt and money among young adults in Sweden". He is the 132nd doctoral candidate to complete PhD studies at the Department of Sociology.

Swedish households are among the most indebted in the EU. Home loans make up most of the debt, but other credit usage is becoming increasingly common. "If you look at Sweden today, there is more pressure to be independent, make the right economic choices, and invest," Crusefalk says. "At the same time, consumer credits is making it possible to consume without having the money for it."

His thesis focuses on young adults, one of the most financially vulnerable groups, and their reasoning regarding money, loans, investments and credits. Part of his study focused on how they navigate the different, sometimes conflicting, expectations young adults face regarding their economies.

"This thesis has a lot of empirical findings and makes a lot of theoretical contributions," commented the external reviewer, Associate Professor Léna Pellandini-Simányi of Università della Svizzera italiana in Lugano, Switzerland.

A blonde, white woman
Associate Professor Léna Pellandini-Simányi

Crusefalk describes one of the central findings as the etiquette of talking about money. We expect money talk to follow implicit rules closely related to becoming an adult and what it means to be financially responsible. In Sweden, adults are expected to speak of their finances in vague terms rather than numbers.

"It probably has to do with what we in Sweden call jantelagen, and the individuality of Swedish society," Crusefalk says. "You should manage to on your own and should not reveal to others how much you have. It almost goes against neoliberal terms, where you should show what you have and have accomplished."

Another finding shows that young adults are often profoundly affected by the economic norms in their families and friend groups. Sometimes this makes them feel compelled to forego personal spending and saving preferences to instead partake in social activities.

Pellandini-Simányi asked how Crusefalk reasoned when he made the methodological decision to conduct focus group interviews with young adults about money when it is such a private matter. The group setting, Crusefalk noted, and the opportunity to discuss financial practices with peers made the informants more talkative than in one-on-one interviews.

"It is important to know that young adults are subjected to many different expectations, which they have to navigate to reason about their finances. That can be very messy. Perhaps we should openly talk about that it is not always easy to be economically responsible and that it is okay to fail," Crusefalk said.

The examination committee unanimously approved Crusefalk's thesis and his defence of it.

A man in a blue shirt holding a glas containing liquid
Dr. Lars Crusefalk

Examination committee:

  • Professor Bengt Larsson, Gothenburg University, Department of Sociology and Work Science
  • Associate Professor Torbjörn Hjort, School of Social Work, Lund University
  • Associate Professor Veronika Burcar Alm, Department of Sociology, Lund University

Main Supervisor and Chair Person of the thesis defence:

  • Associate Professor Chris Swader, Department of Sociology, Lund University.


  • Professor David Wästerfors, Department of Sociology, Lund University

More information about the thesis is available in the Lund University Research Portal on Lars Crusefalk's profile page.