This spring the department have recruited quite a few new staff members. One of them is Helene Castenbrandt who holds an PhD in history from Gothenburg University.
Helene’s current research project focuses on the history of long-term sickness absence in Sweden.
What is the project about?
Today, large efforts are invested in understanding why modern societies spend more and more money on prolonged sickness cases. But one perspective is usually missing: Systems for long-term sickness absence have developed throughout the 20th century, a period marked by large health transformations and societal change.
Rather than being a new phenomenon, long-term sickness absence should be understood as something old, developed and framed alongside the Swedish welfare system.
The boundaries for sick leave have throughout the history of health insurance been highly debated and changed over and over. This development has been influenced by political views and societal change, including workforce fluctuations, the possibilities for retirement, disability pension, and social benefits, as well as the organisation of health care and the epidemiological transition. It is thus a socially constructed system with firm roots in biological and economic realities.
My project will analyse this phenomenon as a historical process, with studies on individual sickness histories, as well as on the changing debates over Swedish insurance schemes for the long term sick, during the first half of the 20th century. The aim is to better our understanding of the development of, and changing boundaries for, long-term sickness absence in Sweden.
Welcome to the department!