Caitlin P. Carroll


Hi! I’m a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, where I am also an affiliate of the Urban Ethnography Lab and the Rapoport Center for Human Rights and completing a doctoral portfolio in Women’s and Gender Studies. I was previously a visiting PhD researcher at the Centre for Gender Research at Uppsala University.

My dissertation, In a Feminist State: Sexual Violence and Gender Equality in Sweden, investigates the high rate of sexual violence in a country considered one of the most gender-equal in the world. To shed light on this paradox, I use qualitative methods, including 48 in-depth interviews with criminal justice professionals, state bureaucrats and politicians, anti-violence advocates and activists, medical professionals, and social workers and therapists; 15 months of fieldwork in Sweden including participant observation at anti-violence protests and trials for sexual crimes; and a discourse analysis of Swedish news media and government debates.

I interrogate the meaning, causes, and consequences of the high rate of sexual violence in Sweden through a feminist institutional lens. I identify three main institutions that work in Sweden to address sexual violence: 1) the political sphere, where laws are written and passed; 2) the criminal justice system, where these laws are implemented and victims report the crimes committed against them; and 3) the welfare state, including the healthcare system and the education system, where programs address sexual violence treatment and prevention.

My research challenges the ways in which rape is understood from a socio-legal perspective, how rape is discursively framed by the state and how state institutions carry out their role in addressing the problem and finding justice for victim-survivors.

My dissertation fieldwork was funded by a Graduate Research Fellowship from the American-Scandinavian Foundation and grants from the Swedish Excellence Endowment at UT-Austin. I am also a 2019-20 recipient of the P.E.O. International Scholar Award.