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Porträtt Sara Eldén. Foto: Emma Lord.

Sara Eldén

Docent | Universitetslektor | Studierektor för forskarutbildningen

Porträtt Sara Eldén. Foto: Emma Lord.

When someone else’s home is your workplace : Inequalities in the re-emerging domestic care work sector in Sweden


  • Sara Eldén

Summary, in English

The domestic care work sector in Sweden is growing. The expansion of the welfare state in the post-war period made privately employed domestic workers an uncommon practice (Öberg, 1999). Today, we see a re-emergence of the market. The turning point for this is the RUT tax deduction, introduced in 2007 and leading to a tremendous growth in the sector. Approximately 30 000 people are employed in RUT companies (Riksrevisionen, 2020: 34), and during 2021 over 1,2 million people in Sweden made use of the deduction (Serviceföretagen, 2022). This means that a growing number of workers now have their workplace in other people’s homes. They constitute a workforce characterized at the outset by vulnerability as they are often women with migrant background, while the customers buying the services are mainly Swedish and upper middle-class (Riksrevisionen 2020).

This paper analyses the development of the private domestic care work market in Sweden by looking specifically at two sectors: the nanny market and the RUT elderly care sector. The political context of the market is described, its’ growth and characteristics, especially focusing the underlying assumptions of what care work is and how it can be turned into ‘consumer services’. Similarities and differences between the two sectors are identified, as both in different ways complement/replace the welfare services of publicly funded child care and elderly care. In addition, I provide empirical examples of ‘doings of inequality’ in everyday work practices in the nanny sector. I argue that the new private market for domestic care work reproduce and accentuate inequalities between and within families in Sweden, and between employers and employees, by making the realisation of ‘good care’ for children and the elderly a question of economic resources, and by re-affirming care work as a suitable profession for ‘other women’, marked by ethnicity and class.


  • Sociologi
  • Sociologiska institutionen






Konferensbidrag: abstract


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


  • care work
  • domestic work
  • intersectionality
  • RUT tax deduction
  • home

Conference name

Critical Perspectives on Precarious and Informal Work symposium

Conference date

2023-08-24 - 2023-08-25

Conference place

Helsinki, Finland




  • Tackling Precarious and Informal Work in the Nordic Countries
  • RUT tax deductions for the elderly: New conditions for care practices
  • Care for children in an era of private market services: A study of nannies, children and parents