About Mathias Ericson
About Mathias Ericson
Researcher with a background in the humanities (Cultural studies and Art history) and social sciences (Sociology). In 2011, I defended my thesis dissertation at the Department of Sociology, University of Gothenburg, with the dissertation Up Close. Masculinity, Intimacy and Community in Firefighters’ Work Teams. Since then I have worked with teaching and research at Gothenburg University, University of Borås, Luleå University of Technology and Karlstad University.
In my research, I have worked with various studies of organizations and professions in risk and crisis management. The research approach is based in feminist theory, critical masculinity theory and ethnographic studies. My current research concerns how gender-based power asymmetries and norms affect society's ability to cope with a crisis, such as a major accident. The research project is about the norms and power relations that come into play in the work with achieving direction and coordination of society's resources. For example, it includes questions of how some agents acquire influence over the protection values that are prioritized, the networks that are mobilized and the leadership ideals that are awarded. Here, the research project contributes with knowledge about how gender-based power relations and norms will have an impact on how these networks and contacts are established and mobilized, for example, who is seen as reliable or powerful. It is an interdisciplinary research project in collaboration with Lund University of Technology at Lund University. The project is funded by the Swedish Civil Contingency Agency (MSB) 2017-2022.
In my previous research, I have explored how the concepts of risk and vulnerability are used by authorities' in their work with protection and preparedness. It started from the observations that the concepts of risk and vulnerability are gender-coded. Risk and risk taking are central to norms about masculinity, while vulnerability is central to norms about femininity. The concepts are also linked to issues of active and passive, where risk is associated with action, while vulnerability is associated with the need for help and protection of others. In other words, gender is integrated in the core concepts and thus also to how the field of protection and contingency is formed and understood. The study was based on interviews and observations, focusing on, among other things, the total defence and the responses to the refugee situation during the autumn of 2015.
Aside from these studies my research has also concerned the rescue service and the firefighter profession. After my dissertation, I have worked in several different research projects. During 2010-2014 I worked at Luleå University of Technology and Karlstad University with a research project on how educational reform within the firefighter profession changed institutionalized masculinity in the profession. In 2011, I also worked at the University of Borås with a study on collaborative processes between social services, police, rescue services, public health and the Public Prosecutor's Office. In 2014-2015 I worked with two research projects. The first focused resistance to gender equality work in organizations. The second focused how gender norms affects the rescue service work with interpreting statistics from fatal accidents, such as drowning and house fires.
My main teaching has been in gender studies and cultural studies. I have taught on all levels, including supervising and course development. I have previously also taught in sociology, social psychology, work science and public health science. The link between knowledge / power is central to both my view of teaching and knowledge formation as well as my research and view of research processes. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic I have developed and also teach in the distance course called Critical perspectives on crisis, culture and democracy.
Collaboration, communication and network/research collaborations
In my research, I have been in constant contact with authorities and actors outside universities. It is, for example, the rescue service, the Swedish Agency for Social Protection and emergency preparedness, a network of firefighters, county administrative boards and municipalities. I have also been involved in debates around gender research, including as a member of the Swedish Gender Researchers Association. In my later research projects, I have embraced collaboration as part of the research process and worked with interactive models for material collection. This means that I gradually discuss and feedback preliminary results during the research process. To follow and participate in these forms of translations between different contexts, ie. between academic and practitioner- or activist-oriented contexts, I see as very valuable and important to work on.