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Portrait Sara Eldén. Photo: Emma Lord.

Sara Eldén

Associate Professor | Director of Research Studies | Senior Lecturer

Portrait Sara Eldén. Photo: Emma Lord.

Nanny care in Sweden


  • Sara Eldén
  • Terese Anving

Summary, in English

A new actor has been (re)introduced into family practices in Sweden: the nanny. Previous ways of organizing care for children (mainly through publicly funded daycare) are today being complemented by a growing private market for childcare, often performed by migrant women. In our research project Care for children in an era of private market service we study the practice of doing care and family in Swedish families who hire nannies and au pairs. To grasp the complexity of this practice, we have interviewed all participating actors: nannies/au pairs (n=26), parents (n=29) and children (n=19). This enables us to compare and contrast the ways in which the participants look upon and experience the caring situation in the family. In this paper we analyze the small-scale everyday doings and negotiations of care by the involved parties. There is, we argue, a tension between the parents ‘orchestrating’ of the caring practice and their expectations on the character of the caring relationship between the nanny/au pair and the child, and the actual practice of care that the nanny and the child are engaged in, and the specific relationship that develops through this. Parents ‘orchestration’ further resonates with ‘intensive parenting’ ideals and present neoliberal discourses of families’ ‘right to choose’, something that the last decade’s political reforms in Sweden has made possible, for those who can afford it. This in turn means that new forms of class, gender and ethnified inequalities are built into the very core of the care practice.


  • Sociology

Publishing year




Document type

Conference paper: abstract


  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)

Conference name

Congress of the European Society on Family Relations

Conference date

2018-09-05 - 2018-09-08

Conference place

Porto, Portugal




  • Care for children in an era of private market services: A study of nannies, children and parents