Christel Backman

Senior Lecturer

Department of Sociology and Work Science
Visiting address
Skanstorget 18
41123 Göteborg
Room number
Postal address
Box 720
405 30 Göteborg

About Christel Backman

CHRISTEL BACKMAN (LL.M, PhD in Sociology) has been with the department since 2006. Her research examines issues on deviation, social control, surveillance and human resource management. Backman completed her doctoral thesis ’Criminal Records in Sweden. The Regulation of Access to Criminal Records and the Use of Criminal Background Checks by Employers’ in March 2012. The thesis was awarded as the ”Best HR-research 2012”. In 2020 she was appointed as Senior lecturer (docent) in sociology.

Specialist fields

  • Sociology of Law
  • Surveillance Studies
  • Human Resource
  • Social Control

Current research

Video surveillance recordings and artificial intelligence in crime investigation

This research project provides knowledge on how the increased use of video surveillance recordings - together with artificial intelligence (AI) to process recordings - affects the police's capacity to investigate and solve crimes including how the material produced is actually used and turned into evidence by criminal investigators. To increase the capacity to investigate and solve crimes, the Police Authority has hired civilian investigators and installed many more surveillance cameras in public places.

From Police Investigation to Court Verdict: Mass Video Surveillance for Criminal Justice Purposes

This project provides knowledge about when and how recordings from surveillance cameras is used by Swedish police and courts to solve crimes. Based on observations of investigative work and interviews with police, prosecutors, lawyers, and judges, as well as observations of trials and analysis of verdicts, we produce knowledge about when and how recordings from surveillance cameras are used and made useful in the legal process.

Previous research projects

Body-worn cameras: implications for the work environment of private security officers

In this project, we investigate the use of body-worn cameras in the private security industry from a work environment perspective. The purpose is 1) to understand how the employees perceive and use the cameras and how it affects their work environment and 2) how companies and the industry regulate and handle the use.The study is conducted through interviews with private security officers who use body-worn cameras, and with key people in companies, employers’ and employees’ organizations respectively.The project contributes to the knowledge of whether there is a gap between the expectations that body-worn cameras will have positive effects on the working environment, and the everyday practice of private security officers. The project will furthermore generate knowledge about consequences of body cameras for the work environment of private security officers, and the work management’s attitudes to, e.g., the employees’ right to privacy in working life. Finally, our study contributes with guidelines for how the work with body-worn cameras should be organized and how management teams in the industry should work to ensure a good working environment for the users of body-worn cameras.

Online medical records with patient access: How do they affect doctors' practice, profession and patient relations?

This project investigates how one of the classic professions – medical doctors – respond to recent developments in Sweden whereby patients now have the possibility to read their medical records online. This development is from a political point of view framed as simply making use of new technology to improve citizens’ rightful access of information about their personal health. However, to doctors patients’ easy access to the medical record has caused ambivalence. Doctors have for instance claimed that the medical record is a tool reserved for the medical professions and have expressed concern that their record keeping will become restrained and more cautious because of patients having easy access to the notes and that this might in turn lead to threatened patient safety.

The following research questions are guiding the study:1. How do the doctors perceive that the patients’ online access has affected their medical record-keeping and patient relationships?2. What strategies do doctors use in relation to the online medical record in order to construct and maintain the boundaries of the profession – its autonomy, knowledge system and discretion?3. What consequences can the doctors’ approach to the online medical record have for the patients, the doctors’ control over their professional practice and for professional development?

The project provides knowledge about how the digitalization of work life can affect professional identities. It further contributes to insights on why the digitalization of health care have turned out to be a challenge and what it is that leads to tensions between politicians’ ambitions, patients’ desires and doctors’ professional identities.

Employers' use of information seeking on the Internet in the recruitment process, and its consequences for organizations and jobseekers on the Swedish labour market.

Over the past years it has become increasingly more common for employers to check up job-seekers online, using a search engine, specific databases or social media. In this way employers may add information about specific parts of the job-seeker’s past, such as criminal records, or try to capture the job-seeker’s “data double”. Previous research on online behaviour in general and social media in particular, has focused on the data subjects online action, how privacy settings are used and if online behaviour is modified due to potential data gathering by outsiders. In this project we turn our attention to the ones who gather this type of data and use it as access control for employment. Our aim is to examine how employers interpret the data they find and to what extent it influences the recruitment process and the decision to hire or not hire a candidate.

Descriptions of occupations for career guidance – a matter of the free choice of the individual or the differentiation of the labour force? In this project we analyse a large number of occupational descriptions, published on the Swedish Public Employment Service’s website, to see how these descriptions are formulated and structured. Our aim is to illuminate what aspects of knowledge and personal qualities that is described as necessary or positive in various occupations, and if the descriptions differ depending on factors such as occupational prestige and gender. Furthermore, the study will show how these descriptions – and the occupations portrayed – are perceived by young adults and to what extent the material is used by career counsellors in Sweden.

Teaching and tutoring

Christel Backman lectures on criminology, victimology, socio-legal studies, surveillance studies, theory of science and qualitative methods, and supervises undergraduate students. In 2020 she was granted the title 'Excellent Teacher' by the Faculty of Social science, and in 2014 she was, together with her colleagues Sara Uhnoo and Mattias Whalström, awared the Pedagogical prize from the Faculty of Social science for their development of the first cycle cours in criminology.

Backman's main padegogical interest regards the spatial dimensions of learning and teaching. She has been part of the faculty's work with developming active learning classrooms (ALC) and hybrid environemnts, and regularly holds workshops for colleagues. She is a member of the stearing committee for the university´s network for active learning and ALC, and one of the co-editors of the first book in Swedish on ALC and higher education. In 2023-2026 she is evaluating the Learning Lab environment on behalf of the unit for Pedagogical Development and Interactive Learning.