Sara Uhnoo

Senior Lecturer

Department of Sociology and Work
Visiting address
Skanstorget 18
41122 Göteborg
Room number
Postal address
Box 720
40530 Göteborg

About Sara Uhnoo

SARA UHNOO is Associate professor in sociology. She has worked at the Department of Sociology and Work Science since spring 2002, currently as a researcher and teacher. She is a part of the research group in criminology and the sociology of law at the Department of sociology and Work Science.

In 2023 she was granted the title 'Excellent Teacher' by the Faculty of Social science, and in 2014 she was, together with her colleagues Christel Backman and Mattias Wahlström, awared the Pedagogical prize from the Faculty of Social science for their development of the first cycle course in criminology.

Specialist Fields

Application of rape legislation, feminist criminology, crime prevention, disaster volunteering, crisis management, voluntary policing, youth crime, youth violence, school fires, co-offending, gender and crime, the police and ethnic minorities, diversity work within the police, ethnic humour, social control, social problems, fear of crime, victimology, crime prevention, qualitative methods.

Current research

Sara is currently working in two research projects.

Rape or consent? Effects of the new rape legislation on legal reasoning and practice

The project is financed by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond and is lead by Åsa Wettergren (project leader) with Moa Bladini and Sara Uhnoo as co-researchers. The Swedish rape legislation reform in 2017, adopted a requirement of voluntariness (popularly “consent”), creating an opportunity to study the dynamic between new laws and institutionalised legal norms. This project aims to study the application of the new legislation from a combined feminist and emotion-sociological perspective, focusing on the emotive-cognitive reasoning of prosecutors, judges and lawyers about the new law and its implications.

  • How do legal actors discursively (in interviews) perceive, interpret and apply the new legislation?
  • How does the new legislation affect trial procedures in practice, regarding focus on the victim/accused (e.g. victim blaming, secondary victimisation) and the construction and presentation of evidence?
  • How do judges operate the new legislation when writing judgements: what perceptions and assessments about voluntariness, gender and sexuality are reflected in the written judgements?

The project follows 18 cases of rape/attempted rape/negligent rape, all charges embraced by the new legislation, from prosecution to the trial and judgement in district court and the appeals court. Legal actors are interviewed and shadowed, trials are observed, written judgements are collected and analysed. The project is the first to study the new Swedish rape legislation by a unique theoretical lens combining feminist and emotion-sociological law research. The combination enables enhanced knowledge of legal discrimination as part of how processes of silencing emotions interact with gendered power structures. It thereby contributes to knowledge of how changed legislation interact with legal culture and norms. It further contributes to developing the emotive-cognitive reasoning of legal professionals by revealing and emphasizing tacit norms and routinized behaviour regarding equality issues. This is important in order to strengthen the legitimacy of the legal system in general and as regards equality issues in particular.

Sara leads the working group Nordic himpathy – the social construction of responsibility and sympathy in cases of sexual violation and rape (grant from Nsfk).

Between Resignation and Future Prospects. A Research Program on Educational Pathways and Learning Processes Among Young People in Stigmatized Urban Settings in Gothenburg.

Researchers: Ove Sernhede (program leader), Sara Uhnoo, Nils Hammarén, Johannes Lunneblad, Sara Brorström, Kristina Alstam, Majsa Allelin och Jonas Lindbäck. The program is financed by Sten A Olssons stiftelse för konst och kultur.

The research program consist of three projects and have the overall purpose of generating knowledge about the conditions for young people’s learning in poor and stigmatized neighborhoods. The program also carries the specific purpose of developing compensatory pedagogical strategies that will enable more young people to succeed in school and thereby gain better prospects and aims to create an understanding of the experiences and life worlds that constitute the self-understanding of young people who risk becoming unauthorized to enter upper secondary school and thus have their prospects choked off. The project Culture and informal learning as a second chance: Young People's self-directed communities of practice and learning in stigmatized neighborhoods is lead by Sara Uhnoo and focuses on the new youth movements based on culture and popular education and the ambition is to investigate the informal learning that takes place within young people’s own associations.

Previous research

In 2011 Sara defended her doctoral thesis with the title The rules of violence. Young people’s talk about violence and fighting. With discourse analysis she explored how young people (re)produce, negotiate and understand rules and norms of violence in interviews. The young people’s moral work results in a variety of rules about the legitimate and illegitimate behaviour(s) in different types of conflict situations. The analysis focuses on some moral dilemmas and colliding norms. The youngsters’ local interpretations of e.g. “play fight”, “sibling fight” and ”youth fight” is compared with more hegemonic societal discourses about youth violence. The dissertation can be ordered at the bookstores online i.e.

After finishing her dissertation Sara worked as a research assistant in the project ’Firesetting by children and juveniles – causes and prevention strategies’, financed by The Swedish Fire Research Board (Brandforsk). She examined court files and interviews professionals and juveniles about how and why juveniles set illegal fires. The study focused on school fires, co-offending, group dynamics and female firesetters.

In 2018 Sara worked in the project Police-citizen partnerships: Voluntary policing in Sweden, together with Cecilia Hansen Löfstrand. The purpose of the project was to explore voluntary citizen participation in policing in Sweden, looking in particular at the governance of voluntary policing in and through police-citizen partnerships. The research focused on the relationships and interdependences between police and citizens, including the efforts by both parties to establish and maintain legitimacy in the eyes of each other and the broader public while maintaining their own autonomy. The project contributed to existing theories of the governance of policing by developing a theoretical understanding of the governance of voluntary policing as taking place in and through police-citizen partnerships, and as characterized by negotiations of autonomy, authority, legitimacy, and accountability between the police and the citizens involved.

Sara has just finished the project Cooperation between Professionals and Volunteers in Disaster Management: The 2014 Forest Fire in the Västmanland Province of Sweden, together with Sofia Persson. The research looked at the nature, role and impact of the volunteer contribution in the fire-fighting and rescue effort, analysing how it helped or hindered disaster management and how cooperation between professional and volunteer efforts during disaster relief might be improved. The findings from the study were analysed in light of existing research on disaster management, volunteerism in general, and volunteer activities during disasters, drawing also upon research on interpersonal emotion management, public-private disaster cooperation, professional organizations and cooperation, institutional logics and professional discretion. The study will contribute by improving our understanding of the role and functions of civil society/non-state actors in disaster management, of the structures and processes influencing the actions of professional groups and organizations, and of the possibilities and limits for cooperation between key actors in large-scale disasters.

Sara Uhnoo has also worked within the research programme ”Policing Ethnicity in a Diversified Sweden”, financed by the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research. She analysed diversity work within the police and internal and external relations between the police and ethnic minorities.

In 2016, Sara evaluated two Housing first-projects in Gothenburg.

Teaching and tutoring

Application of rape legislation, fear of crime, victimology, gender and crime, feminist criminology, constructions of social problems, crime prevention, social control, ethnic minorities and diversity work within the police, voluntary policing, youth and crime, school fires, youth violence, co-offending, disaster volunteering, crisis management, qualitative methods, teaching and learning in higher education.

Selected publications

Uhnoo, S., Erixon, S. & Bladini, M. (2024) The wave of consent-based rape laws in Europe, International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice.

Bladini, M., Uhnoo, S. & Wettergren Å. (2023) 'It sounds like lived experience' –on empathy in rape trials, International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice.

Uhnoo, S. & Persson, S. (2022) Samverkan mellan professionella och frivilliga vid katastrofhantering – skogsbranden i Västmanland, Arbetsliv i omvandling, nr 2,

Uhnoo, S. & Sernhede, O. (2022) Shout out! Ortenpoddar som folkbildning, motoffentlighet och underhållning, Sociologisk forskning, 59 (1-2): 149-176.

Uhnoo, S. & Persson, S. (2021) The flip side of the coin: perils of public–private disaster cooperation, Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, 1–11.

Persson, S., & Uhnoo, S. (2021). Dilemmas and Discretion in Complex Organizations: Professionals in Collaboration with Spontaneous Volunteers During Disasters. Professions and Professionalism, 11(2).

Wallin, W., Uhnoo, S., Wettergren, Å., & Bladini, M. (2021) Capricious credibility – legal assessments of voluntariness in Swedish negligent rape judgements, Nordic Journal of Criminology,

Uhnoo, S. & Persson, S. (2020) Emotion management of disaster volunteers: the delicate balance between control and recognition, Emotions and Society, 2 (2): 197-213.;jsessionid=5o7oso32lrqqg.x-ic-live-01

Hansen Löfstrand, C. & Uhnoo, S. (2020) Blurred boundaries and legal uncertainty in police–volunteer partnerships, Policing and Society, 30:8, 950-965,

Persson, S. & Uhnoo, S. (2019): Deliberate firesetting: hotspot schools as arenas and preventive actors, Nordic Journal of Criminology,

Uhnoo, S. (2019). Ethnic Police Humor As Ethnic Boundary-Making In The Swedish Police Force, Journal of Qualitative Criminal Justice & Criminology, 7 (3): 173-188.

Persson, S. & Uhnoo, S. (2018), I spänningsfältet mellan institutionella logiker - professionella och frivilliga vid Västmanlandsbranden, Arbetsmarknad & Arbetsliv, 62-79.

Uhnoo, S. & Hansen Löfstrand, C. (2018). Voluntary policing in Sweden: media reports of contemporary forms of police–citizen partnerships, Journal of Scandinavian Studies in Criminology and Crime Prevention, 19 (1): 41-60.

Uhnoo, Sara (2015). Starting a fire together: The dynamics of co-offending in juvenile arson, European Journal of Criminology, 13 (3): 315 -331.

Ekbrand, Hans & Uhnoo, Sara (2015). Juvenile Firesetting in Schools, Journal of Youth Studies, 18 (10):1291 -1308

Uhnoo, S., Persson, S., Ekbrand, H., Lindgren, S.-Å. (2014). Juvenile school firesetting in Sweden: Causes and countermeasures. Journal of Scandinavian Studies in Criminology and Crime Prevention. 16 (1): 25-40.

Hansen Löfstrand, C. & Uhnoo, S. (2014) Diversity Policing - Policing Diversity: Performing Ethnicity in Police and Private-Security Work in Sweden, Social Inclusion, 2(3): 75-87.

Uhnoo, S. (2013). Within the ’tin bubble’. The Police and Ethnic minorities in Sweden. Policing & Society: An International Journal of Research and Policy, 25 (2): 129-149.

Peterson, A. & Uhnoo, S. (2012). Trials of loyalty: Ethnic minority police officers as 'outsiders' within a greedy institution. European Journal of Criminology. 9 (4): 354-369.

Uhnoo, S. (2017) Utvärdering av BODIL-projektet: Ett lokalt Bostad först-projekt i SDF Askim-Frölunda-Högsbo, Göteborgs stad 2014-2016. Göteborg: Institutionen för sociologi och arbetsvetenskap, Göteborgs universitet.$file/BODIL_slutrapp_170222.pdf

Persson, Sofia & Uhnoo, Sara (2015). Brandutsatta högstadieskolor- problembilder, orsaker och åtgärder. Göteborg: Göteborgs universitet &Brandforsk.

Lindgren, S.-Å., Björk, M., Ekbrand, H. Persson, S. & Uhnoo, S. (2013). Barn/ungdomar som anlägger brand – orsaker och motåtgärder. Göteborg: Institutionen för sociologi och arbetsvetenskap.

Persson, S., Uhnoo, S., Ekbrand, H., Thodelius, C., Lindgren, S.-Å. (2013). Utvärdering av kommuners arbete mot anlagda skolbränder. Göteborg: Institutionen för sociologi och arbetsvetenskap/Brandforsk.

Uhnoo, S. & Peterson, A. (2011). Utvärdering om diskriminering, trakasserier och särbehandling av anställda med utländsk bakgrund inom polismyndigheten i Västra Götaland. Göteborg: Institutionen för sociologi och arbetsvetenskap/Polismyndigheten i Västra Götaland.

Uhnoo, S. (2008). Ungdomars tal om rädsla för våld. Göteborg: Tryggare och mänskligare Göteborg.

Book Chapters

Uhnoo, S. Bladini M, & Wettergren Å (2023). Negotiating Access, In: Flower, L., Klosterkamp, S. (eds.), Courtroom Ethnography. Exploring Contemporary Approaches, Fieldwork and Challenges, Palgrave Macmillian.

Uhnoo, S. & Backman, C. (2022). Medskapande, forskning och artikelskrivande, I: Alfredsson, V. Asker, N, Backman, C. & Uhnoo, S. (red.) Använd rummet. Högskolepedagogiska metoder för aktiva lärosalar. Lund: Studentlitteratur.

Backman, C. & Uhnoo, S. (2022) Kursintroduktion - reflektion, gemenskap och entusiasm, I: Alfredsson, V. Asker, N, Backman, C. & Uhnoo, S. (red.) Använd rummet. Högskolepedagogiska metoder för aktiva lärosalar. Lund: Studentlitteratur.

Alfredsson, V. Asker, N, Backman, C. & Uhnoo, S. (2022). Studentaktiva salar - en (r)evolution för högskolepedagoger? I: Alfredsson, V. Asker, N, Backman, C. & Uhnoo, S. (red.) Använd rummet. Högskolepedagogiska metoder för aktiva lärosalar. Lund: Studentlitteratur.

Alfredsson, V. Asker, N, Backman, C. & Uhnoo, S. (2022). Avslutning: Lärande om rummet - spatial kompetens i praktiken. I: Alfredsson, V. Asker, N, Backman, C. & Uhnoo, S. (red.) Använd rummet. Högskolepedagogiska metoder för aktiva lärosalar. Lund: Studentlitteratur.

Uhnoo, S. (2019). The Rules of Violence: Young People’s Moral Work around Violence and Fighting. I: Policing Schools: School Violence and the Juridification of Youth, Lunneblad J. (red.), s. 153-172, Cham: Springer.

Backman, C., Uhnoo, S. & Wahlström M. (2018). Lärarpoddar i kriminologi, I: Hrastinski. S. (red.) Digitalisering av högre utbildning. Lund: Studentlitteratur.

Backman, C., Uhnoo, S. & Wahlström M. (2018). Medskapande pedagogik på en introduktionskurs, I: Uhnoo, D. & Scherp, H.-Å. (red.) Medskapande högskolepedagogik. Lund: Studentlitteratur, s. 45-69.

Uhnoo, S. (2017) "Gratis är gott men stulet är godast"– moralarbete om snatteri på Flashback. I: Andersson, B., Pettersson, F. & Skårner, A. Den motspänstiga akademikern: festskrift till Ingrid Sahlin. Malmö: Égalité.

Uhnoo, S. & Ekbrand, H. (2017). Flashback för kriminologer. I: Mallén, A. (red.) Kriminologiska metoder och Internet. Stockholm. Liber.

Uhnoo, S. (2016). Ungas moralarbete om legitim våldsanvändning. I: Edling, C & Rostami, A. (red.), Våldets sociala dimensioner: Individ, relation, organisation. Lund: Studentlitteratur.åldets+sociala+dimensioner

Uhnoo, S. (2014). Genus i rätten – gestaltningar av kvinnors brottslighet tillsammans med män i mordbrandsdomar. I: Finstad, L. & Lomell, H. (red.), Motmaele. En antologi til Kjersti Ericsson, Cecilie Høigård og Guri Larsen. Oslo: Novus forlag.æle/102646

Peterson, A & Uhnoo, S. (2013). The problem of Loyalty in Greedy Institutions, I: Miller, L. B. & Moore, W.C. (red.), The Psychology of Loyalty. New York: Nova Science Publishers. Full text:

Uhnoo, S. (2013). Inom den egna plåtbubblan. Polisen och etniska minoriteter. I: Peterson, A. & Åkerström, M. (red.), Den sorterande ordningsmakten. Studier av etnicitet och polisiär kontroll. Bokbox.

Uhnoo, S. (2012). Våldtagbara och (o)slagbara. I: Heber, A.,Tiby, E, & Wikman, S. (red.), Viktimologisk forskning. Brottsoffer i teori och metod, pp. 75-93. Lund: Studentlitteratur.

Uhnoo, S. (2011). Våldets regler. Om kompiskontroll vid ungdomsbråk. I: Larsson, B. & Engdahl, O. (red.), Social kontroll – övervakning, disciplinering och självreglering. Malmö: Liber.

Uhnoo, S. (2010). Young and (un)safe. The Geography of Fear, Social Darkness and Spatial Confidence. I: Holgersson, H., Thörn, C., Thörn, H. & Wahlström, M. (red.), (Re)searching Gothenburg: essays on a changing city. Göteborg: Glänta.