'Green Care' on Farms in Sweden: A gender perspective on entrepreneurship in a changed welfare state

Last changed: 04 April 2023

A study of 'green care' entrepreneurship among Swedish farmers from a doing gender perspective.

The Swedish welfare state has over the past twenty-five years undergone a restructuring, depending on the influence of neoliberal policies and ideas of "New Public Management". It has made it possible for private companies to provide public welfare services. Other changes that characterize Sweden are a declining agriculture and an ongoing transformation of the rural landscape: from production to consumption as part of an emerging service society. The gendering of the work organization is an integral part of this restructuring, and studies have shown that women's work outside the farms is increasing, but they can also be the "new entrepreneurs" on farms.

An interesting and growing phenomenon at the intersection of an altered welfare state and women's entrepreneurship on farms is “green care” – which we studied in this project. We took as our point of departure the established definition of green care as: the use of animals, plants, gardens, forests and farm landscapes in order to promote mental and physical health and quality of life for various clients. By studying green care in this project it was possible for us to both understand how gender organizes work and to critically examine the welfare sector reorganization and its consequences for people on farms and in rural areas.

The aim of the project was to increase the knowledge on green care entrepreneurship on farms in Sweden in a gender perspective. The research questions included:

  • Why and how do people on farms perform green care?
  • In what ways is are gendered divisions, symbols, identities, interactions and ownership, reproduced or challenged?

We studied 15 farms which provide various forms of green care, through a case study design with interactive aspects and where we used document studies, interviews and “shadowing”. The project contributes to basic research on green care in the context of a changing Swedish welfare state and an increasing service production in the farming industry.

Related pages: