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Photo of Shai Mulinari. Private photo.

Shai Mulinari

Associate Professor | Senior Lecturer

Photo of Shai Mulinari. Private photo.

Race in clinical trials in Sweden: how regulatory and medical standards in clinical research trump the post-racial discourse


  • Shai Mulinari
  • Anna Bredström

Summary, in English

The post-racial discourse that permeates many Western European countries depicts society as having moved beyond race concepts and classifications. This article focuses on Sweden, a country that, in line with the post-racial thinking, declares race to be an offensive and unscientific concept. The article investigates what happens when this post-racial discourse meets clinical research standards that encourage, if not demand, the collection of data on patient race. Through an analysis of the reporting of patient race in 76 multinational trials with at least one study site in Sweden, and a review of the regulatory and medical standards and trial documents that direct the collection of patient race in trials, we show how race classification is kept intact in trials despite conflicting with post-racial norms and conventions. Notably, our findings diverge from the way racialisation is typically assumed to work in Sweden and related countries. We argue this is possible because the two incompatible understandings of race are “distributed” (Mol, 2002) between different social worlds. The distribution, we propose, is upheld through the paucity of major debate on why and how race classification should be carried out in clinical trials in Europe, as this allows contradictions to remain unspoken.


  • Sociology

Publishing year





Sociology of Health & Illness

Document type

Journal article




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




  • A New Biologism? How Medical Research, Policy and Clinical Practice Approach Ethnic Differences in Health


  • ISSN: 1467-9566