Intersectionality

The intersectional perspective emphasises the need in both theory and practice to consider that women and men are not homogenous groups.

In Sweden, the concept has become widely used in the political debate and academic research on discrimination related to gender, sexuality, ethnicity, disability and age.

An important point of departure in intersectional analysis is that people’s experiences, identities and opportunities are created based on a range of different positions they have in society and their positions cannot be understood alone.

Women are never ‘just’ women, since gender relations alone – just like class, ethnicity and sexuality – can never fully explain how inequalities emerge and power is exercised. For example, the position in society of a highly educated Swedish-born woman is vastly different than the position of an immigrant woman with no formal education.

An intersectional perspective implies an opportunity to dissolve the boundaries between different social categories and instead focus on how they affect each other.

Intersectionality may illuminate how oppression is created through the interaction of various power relations such as ethnicity, gender, class, age and functional ability.

Yet, intersectionality is also a tool that contributes to understanding of people’s situation in a society that is constantly changing, where categories such as age, sexuality, class and nationality interact with each other in more fluent and changeable ways.

Application of intersectional analysis does not require the use of all categories and grounds of discrimination. Instead, it is sufficient to select the categories that are relevant for the analysis at hand.

However, intersectionality is not simply a matter of ‘adding’ different grounds of discrimination together. It is important to analyse how different grounds of discrimination interact with each other. Otherwise, we risk missing important aspects of how power and acting spaces are distributed.

The analysis can be used in different areas. It can; for example, make special initiatives that target certain groups, such as recent immigrants, low-skilled individuals or the disabled, visible. It does not consider the diversity within the target groups and; thus, might required combined efforts.

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