Working Conditions for Female and Immigrant Cleaners in Stockholm County – An Intersectional Approach


  • Saeid Abbasian Mid Sweden University
  • Carina Hellgren International Programme Office, Stockholm,



Employment, wages, unemployment & rehabilitation, Gender, ethnicity, age & diversity


This paper deals with the working and employment conditions of cleaners with an overview of Sweden but with main emphasis on the Stockholm region. The article is based on a review of previous research, statistics from Sweden, and interviews with cleaners and owners of cleaning firms. Results indicate that working conditions among Swedish cleaners are generally unfavorable with regard to employment contracts and the low status of the profession. Conditions seem to be worst in the Stockholm region, with its turbulent market. The cleaning industry in the Stockholm region consists of too many firms and there is an adverse business climate within this regional industry. We argue that there is a connection to the model of intersectionality, which implies that there is an interlinking of identity constructions and socially organizing principles in terms of class, gender, ethnicity/“race,” and citizenship. Cleaning or charwork constitutes one of the lowest working-class positions in society. Cleaners are at the bottom of the hierarchy, below the owners and other white-collar workers in the industry. The majority of cleaners in the region are women and/or of immigrant origin, not least men and women from non-European countries; many have low educational levels, low proficiency in the Swedish language, and deficient knowledge of laws and regulations. All these factors add up to powerlessness, something that aggravates the situation for the cleaners in the county.

Author Biographies

Saeid Abbasian, Mid Sweden University

Ph.D. email:

Carina Hellgren, International Programme Office, Stockholm,





How to Cite

Abbasian, S., & Hellgren, C. (2012). Working Conditions for Female and Immigrant Cleaners in Stockholm County – An Intersectional Approach. Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies, 2(3), pp. 161–181.