A Person Close – in Law and Politics

The project's aim is to make a multi-disciplinary study of both legal and political meanings and implications of the concepts of family and a person close in today's society.

Of particular interest is to examine whether religion is relevant to how these concepts are interpreted and understood in different contexts. The intention is to use the results of the project as a basis for a joint project application regarding similar issues to an external funder.

There is no legal definition of family. Family is however a central concept, e.g. in family law regulation concerning the establishment of parentage, dependents and heritage but also in public law regulation, particularly for rules regarding immigration.

To describe what in everyday language is described as family, the law is based on kinship founded in parenting, or marriage and in some cases cohabitation. In some contexts, however, this is not enough because a broader range of relationships is intended to be included. In these cases the law refers also to loved ones or persons standing close to the main character. But neither of these concepts are defined, which means that there may be conflicts between individuals who consider themselves to be or not to be the one intended.

The question of who should be considered to be a person close has gained increased relevance in a society where a growing number of persons look at their family, based on a different view of family than the (genetically based) one that lies been behind the Swedish regulation. Factors such as cultural, social and religious background may be of importance both for how individuals perceive their family but also how different authorities apply rules.

Situations where the concept of a person close has gained importance in recent decades is, e.g., when deciding who as a member of the family or relative should have the right to obtain a residence permit in Sweden; when deciding on the placement of children in care; when making decisions about personal matters in health care or concerning funerals as well as when assessing various types of conflicts of interest.

In the project three case studies in the above areas where the concept of a person close has been subject to examination or debate are planned.
Participating researchers: Anna Singer, Margareta Brattström, Karin Borevi

Last modified: 2021-03-17