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Linda Soneryd

Linda Soneryd in Entréhuset's lobby.

Linda Soneryd is professor of sociology. Her research focuses on the conditions for transparency and citizen engagement in the environmental area. Twenty years after the public defence of her doctoral thesis at Örebro University, she is now back in Örebro.
“It’s a great feeling to return to the university that has given me so much during my years as a student and in doctoral studies. At the same time, it feels new and exciting,” she says.

1971 Born in Arboga

2002 Obtained her PhD in sociology at Örebro University with her thesis Environmental conflicts and deliberative solutions?: A case study of public participation in EIA in Sweden

2008 Docent in sociology, Stockholm University.

2017 Professor in sociology, University of Gothenburg

2023 Professor in sociology, Örebro University

Linda Soneryd’s profile page

Linda Soneryd completed both her undergraduate and doctoral studies at Örebro University.

“It’s perfect for me to be at a university I perceive as very good at exchanges between the academic world and societal actors and activities outside academia. And which has established a profile for external collaboration and exchange,” she says.

What Linda Soneryd appreciates most about sociology is the possibilities to move between global issues, societal institutions, organisations, and people’s concrete, everyday realities, experiences, and meaning-making.

“The insight that one must connect the larger perspectives and trends with people’s living conditions is important for sociology as an academic discipline, but also crucial if we’re to make a transition to a sustainable society,” she says.

Began at a research school in Örebro

Linda Soneryd began her doctoral studies in sociology in 1997, within the framework for the Man-Technology-Environment research centre (MTM) at Örebro University, which stands for human-technology-environment. Since then, her research has been about the conditions for transparency and public participation in the environmental area related to various cases and processes.

She has studied consultation processes around infrastructure projects and dialogue processes concerning controversial technologies like GMOs and 3G, participation and water management, urban planning, activism in relation to the UN’s climate negotiations, and the process for the final storage of nuclear waste.

“Science and technology are often highlighted as crucial in transforming a sustainable society. But if environmental issues are too strongly scientifically and technically framed, democratic values such as transparency and citizen engagement are challenged, and the knowledge base gets narrower – and potentially insufficient,” says Linda Soneryd.

Linking natural sciences to sociology

As a researcher in sociology, Linda Soneryd states that it takes a long time to get acquainted with technical and natural science subjects, and you become extra dependent on collaboration and developing close contacts with practitioners in the field.

“That’s why I was proud and quite pleased about receiving an award for the best utilisation of research within public administration, presented by the School of Public Administration at the University of Gothenburg. It was especially gratifying that my research on democratic values was in focus in the motivation for the award.”

Linda Soneryd leads the project “Fossil-Free Future: divestment across in the Nordic countries”, partly dealing with new issues for her, such as the significance of financial flows for climate transformation. Research teams in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden are studying initiatives for pension capital managers to pull investments from fossil fuels. The reference group includes one of Norway’s former finance ministers.

“Pension capital can play a significant role in climate transformation but is often too complex for individual citizens to understand. And today, there is a lack of democratic transparency and influence.”

How new rules are to be applied

This project is also a starting point for new research collaborations, for example, the new EU regulations for sustainable investments and the even newer regulations on corporate sustainability reporting.

“How new regulations are applied, which perspectives and interests are considered, who can participate, and how and what issues are made transparent – has long been a focus of my research. An essential aspect concerns balancing different considerations, such as climate considerations, biodiversity, and chemical use. Moreover, it’s an open question whether stricter requirements for sustainability reporting promote sustainability,” summarises Linda Soneryd.