Homelessness, being a conspicuous manifestation of social marginalisation, has received much attention from both research and politics.

Evictions, a main triggering factor behind homelessness, have only recently received wider interest. Ten years ago, they were defined as a “hidden” American housing problem. But in 2007-08 they came to prominence and were seen as a nationwide plague closely connected to the foreclosures caused by the global financial crisis.

In 2009, the euro financial crisis triggered similar mass evictions in Europe, leading to a newly awakened interest.

The role played by evictions in processes of social marginalisation has varied over time and differs between countries. The risk of losing a home depends on factors such as power relations between landlords and tenants – owners and non-owners; housing laws, and the supply of dwellings.

The loss of a home can also take different manifestations. Tenants with weak connection to their dwellings are, for example, seldom formally evicted. They move after a notice to vacate. Consequently the number of formal evictions can either be understood as caused by tenants’ weak position in the housing market or vice versa.

Compared to other countries, developments on the Swedish housing market are something of a paradox. The number of evictions has fallen in recent years and they are now at their lowest level since the beginning of the 20th century, whereas in many other countries they have increased significantly.

Professor Stenberg will present data about evictions and forced move outs in Sweden since the beginning of the 20th century, complemented with comparisons to other countries.

He will illustrate the intriguing interplay between parts in the conflict (landlords, tenants, bailiffs, social workers, locksmiths), and discuss theoretical approaches to the understanding of the processes on the social margin of the housing market.


Professor Sten-Åke Stenberg started his career as a Social Worker in the Municipality of Stockholm in 1977 and during 1978-82 he worked as an assistant teacher and lecturer in Social Policy at the School of Social Work and Administration at Stockholm University.

In 1981 he was a research assistant at the Institute for Social Research (SOFI), Stockholm University, where he became a doctoral student in sociology in 1985. His research during this period was focused on evictions and homelessness in Sweden.

In 1990 he successfully defended his Ph. D. thesis. During 1990-91 he was a Post-doctoral Research Fellow at the Social and Demographic Research Institute, Department of Sociology, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, U.S.A.

After returning to SOFI he continued research on evictions and also initiated new research on unemployment and social marginalisation. This included the creation of the new data base the Longitudinal Study of Unemployed with interviews conducted in three waves: 1992, 1993 and 2001.

In 1999 Professor Stenberg became professor of sociology at the Swedish Institute for Social Research. His research interest is focused on social marginalisation and unemployment.

He is currently involved in the project Social Processes in the Swedish Housing Market – Inclusion and Exclusion, and a long-term project on social inequality in a Stockholm cohort born in 1953.



RMIT University – Swanston Academic Building, Building 80 (Level 8 Room 10) Swanston St, Melbourne


Tuesday, 18 November