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Boel Berner



Ph. D. (sociology), Lund University. 1981
Docent (sociology), Lund University, 1988
Studies in London 1967–68, Paris 1971–74
Guest researcher: London 1982, Paris 1984, 1996–97, 2002
Professor at the Department of Technology and Social Change since 1991


Editor of the Pandora-series, Arkiv förlag

Membre du Comité directeur du Mage, Paris

Member of the Research Programme on “Technology, practice, identity”


Current project

Research Interests

  • Medical technology and practices. Current research investigates blood donation as a historically evolved social practice, where institutional conditions, medical technologies, meanings of citizenship, and professional rivalries are intertwined in the evolution and change of a complex sociotechnical system. Recent publication: Blodflöden. Blodgivning och blodtransfusion i det svenska samhället(Blood Flows. Blood Donation and Blood Transfusion in Swedish Society)(Arkiv, 2012). Responsible also for projects on emotional work within care, and telemedicine. Publications include the book Technology and Medical Practice. Blood, Guts and Machines (ed. with Ericka Johnson)(2010).
  • The character and social role of technical knowledge. Research includes historical studies of the Swedish engineering profession and contemporary studies of technical education and work, as well as theoretical discussions on the relationships between technology and social change. Publications include the books Teknikens värld (The world of technology) (1981); Kunskapens vägar (The paths to knowledge)(1989); Perpetuum Mobile? (Perpetuum mobile. The challenges of technology and the course of history) (1999) and articles in Swedish and international journals and edited volumes.
  • Gender and technology. Studies have analysed the relationships between masculinity and engineering education and work and the position of women within engineering. Another focus is household modernization, with studies of the moral economy of cleaning at the turn of the century 1900, and of the ideology of the "modern housewife" in the 1950's and 60's. Major publications are the books Från symaskin till cyborg (From sewing machine to cyborg) (ed. with Elisabeth Sundin) (1996); Sakernas tillstånd (The state of things. Gender, class, technical expertise) (1996); Gendered Practices (ed.1997); Suède: l’égalité des sexes en question (ed. with Elisabeth Elgán and Jacqueline Heinen) (2000); Vem tillhör tekniken? (Who are the masters of technology? Gender and knowledge in the world of technology) (ed. 2003), Ifrågasättanden. Forskning om genus, teknik och naturvetenskap (Questionings. Research on gender, technology and science), 2004, as well as articles in Swedish and international journals and edited volumes. The most recent volume is Kön, kropp, materialitet. Perspektiv från fransk genusforskning (ed. with Isabelle Dussauge, 2014) which presents French gender studies in the areas of gender, bodies, materiality.
  • Risk and uncertainty. The focus has been on constructions of risk and the handling of uncertainty in complex socio-technical environments. Published work include Manoeuvring in an Environment of Uncertainty (ed. with Per Trulsson) (2000); Constructing Risk and Safety in Technological Practice (ed. with Jane Summerton) (2003). See also the volume on social science research about nuclear waste: Social Science Research 2004- 2010. Themes, results and reflections (with Britt-Marie Drottz Sjöbert and Einar Holm), Stockholm 2011

Recent publications in English/French

Books and edited volumes

Knowledge and Evidence. Investigating Technologies in Practice (ed. with Corinna Kruse), Linköping Studies in Technology and Social Change, Linköping 2013, 262 pp

Social Science Research 2004-2010. Themes, results and reflections (on nuclear waste issues), with Britt-Marie Drottz Sjöberg and Einar Holm), SKB, Stockholm, 2011, 178 pp.

Technology and Medical Practice. Blood, Guts, and Machines , (ed. with Ericka Johnson), Ashgate Publishers, London,  2010

Constructing Risk and Safety in Technological Practice (ed. with Jane Summerton), Routledge, London, 2003, 200pp

Suède: Inégalité des sexes en question (ed. with Elisabeth Elgán & Jacqueline Heinen) Les Cahiers du Genre, l’Harmattan, Paris, 2000, 181pp

Manoeuvering in an Environment of Uncertainty. Structural Change and Social Action in Sub-Saharan Africa (ed. with Per Trulsson), Ashgate Publishers, London, 2000, 309pp


Review of Åsa Broberg, Utbildning på gränsen mellan skola och arbete: Pedagogisk förändring i svensk yrkesutbildning 1918–1971, Nordic Journal of Educational History, 2(2), 2015: 69-73

"Women in Industrial Research – A Complicated History" (review of Renate Tobies et al (eds) Women in Industrial Research), Neue Politische Literatur, 60(1), 2015: 133–134

"En Suède, les études donnent des outils aux élèves" (avec Elisabeth Elgán), l'Humanité, 22 janvier 2015

"Technology" in The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Health, Illness, Behavior and Society, 2014

Transport versus Information Gathering: Telemedicine and New Tensions in the Ambulance Service" (with Tobias Samuelsson), Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 42 (6), 2013: 722-744

"The making of a risk object: AIDS, gay citizenship and the meaning of blood donation in Sweden in the early 1980s", Sociology of Health and Illness, 2011, 33 (3): 384–398

"Crossing boundaries and maintaining differences between school and industry: forms of boundary-work in Swedish vocational education", Journal of Education and Work, Vol. 23, No. 1, February 2010, 27–42

“Introduction” (with Ericka Johnson) in Ericka Johnsson and Boel Berner (eds.) Technology and Medical Practice. Blood, Guts and Machines, London: Ashgate Publishers, 2010.
“(Dis)connecting bodies: Blood donation and technical change, Sweden 1915–1950”, in Ericka Johnsson and Boel Berner (eds.) Technology and Medical Practice. Blood, Guts and Machines, London: Ashgate Publishers, 2010, 179-201.

“Learning Control: Sense-Making, CNC Machines, and Changes in Vocational Training for Industrial Work”, Vocations and Learning, 2009, 2(3): 177-194

“Working Knowledge as Performance. On the Practical Understanding of Machines”, Work, Employment, and Society, 2008, 22 (2): 319–336

“Rationalizing Technical Work: Visions and Realities of the ‘Systematic Drawing Office’ in Sweden, 1890–1940”, Technology and Culture, 2007, 48 (1): 20–42

“Understanding ‘the Contaminated Blood Affair’. Lessons from Cross-National Comparisons”, Health, Risk & Society, 2007, 9 (1):105–112

”Constructing risk and safety in technological practice: an introduction” (with Jane Summerton) in Summerton, Jane & Berner, Boel (eds.) Constructing Risk and Safety in Technological Practice, Routledge, London, 2003, 1-23

”’Housewives’ Films’ and the Modern Housewife. Experts, Users and Household Modernization. Sweden in the 1950s and 60s” History and Technology, 2002, 18 (3): 155-179

”L’Ingénieur ou le génie du mâle: masculinité et enseignement technique au tournant du XXe siècle” in Garday, D & Chabaud-Rychter, D (eds.) L’engendrement des choses. Des hommes, des femmes et des techniques, Ed. des Archives Contemporaines, Paris 2002, 157-172

”Handling Ethical Dilemmas in Everyday Engineering Work”, in Goujon, P & Hériard Dubreuil, B (eds.) Technology and Ethics. A European quest for responsible engineering, Peeters, 2001, 185-205

”Structural Change and Social Action in Sub-Saharan Africa: an Introduction” (with Per Trulsson), in Berner, Boel & Trulsson, Per (eds.) Manoeuvering in an Environment of Uncertainty. Structural Change and Social Action in Sub-Saharan Africa, Ashgate Publishers, London, 2000, 3-28

”Manoeuvring in Uncertainty: On Agency, Strategies and Negotiations” in Berner, Boel & Trulsson, Per (eds.) Manoeuvering in an Environment of Uncertainty. Structural Change and Social Action in Sub-Saharan Africa, Ashgate Publishers, London, 2000, 277-309

”Le Livre Blanc: une enquête féministe” (with Elisabeth Elgán), in Berner, Boel, Elgán, Elisabeth & Heinen, Jacqueline (eds.) Suède: L’égalité des sexes en question, Les Cahiers du Genre no 27, L’Harrmattan, Paris, 2000, 5-31

“The Meaning of Cleaning: Producing Harmony and Hygiene in the Home”, in Levin, Miriam (ed.) Consciousness and Control, Harwood Publishers, 2000, 81-111

”Educating Men: Women and the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology, 1880-1930”, in Canel, Annie, Oldenziel, Ruth & Zachmann, Karin (eds.) Crossing Boundaries, Building Bridges: Comparing the History of Women Engineers, 1870s-1990s, Harwood Academic Publishers, 2000, 75-102

”Women Engineers and the Transformation of the Engineering Profession in Sweden Today”, Knowledge and Society, 2000, volume 12: 293-318

“La rêve ouvrier de devenir ingénieur”, in Claude Dubar & Charles Gadea (eds) La promotion sociale en France, Presses Universitaires de Septentrion, Lille, 1999, 71-96

”The Worker's Dream of Becoming an Engineer”, History and Technology, 1999, vol 15: 345-372

”The Meaning of Cleaning: The Creation of Harmony and Hygiene in the Home”, History and Technology, 1998, vol 14: 267-306

”Explaining Exclusion. Women and Swedish Engineering Education from the 1890s to the 1920s”, History and Technology, 1997, vol 14: 7-29







bbPROFESSOR emerita

E-mail: boel.berner@liu.se

Department of Thematic Studies -
Technology and Social Change
Linköping university
SE-581 83 Linköping






Technology and Social Change is an interdisciplinary research unit focusing on how social actors create and use technology, and how technical change is woven together with cultural patterns, daily life, politics, energy systems, learning, and the economy in history and society.

About Tema

The objective for Tema - The Department of Thematic Studies is to pursue excellent research and education at undergraduate and advanced levels relevant to society.

Child Studies
Gender Studies
Technology and social change
Environmental Change

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