If not negotiation, then what? Gender equality and the organization of everyday life in Swedish couples


  • Lars Evertsson
  • Charlott Nyman


Freed from the bonds of traditional gendered norms, responsibilities and obligations, it has been argued that negotiation is a key concept for understanding how modern couples organize their common life together. Interviews with Swedish couples cause us to question this assumption. In this article we argue that negotiations are relatively unusual in couple relationships. We found that couples seldom experience the reason, room space or need to negotiate. This can in part be understood from the perspective of seeing everyday life as a matter of practical coordination, i.e. as something we strive to master rather than something we try to change or critically reflect upon. We found that routines and rituals were a guiding force in how couples organize their everyday lives. “Doing gender”, “doing couple”, external circumstances and agreement were all central aspects in making the everyday lives of the couples we interviewed work.

Author Biographies

Lars Evertsson, Umeå University
Department of Social Work
Charlott Nyman, Umeå University
Department of Sociology