Photo of David Ekholm

David Ekholm

Associate Professor, Docent

Welfare as organizational and pedagogical government

Ekholm's research concerns the government of social work and welfare, in various organizational and pedagogical respects. In particular, the research touches on themes such as inclusion and exclusion, equality and inequality, and power relations. The field of research can be described as a political sociology of social work. Ekholm is associated with the Department of Culture and Society (IKOS).

The research deals with issues of inequality and segregation and especially the power relations regarding how social problems are articulated and how solutions or reforms are organized. This concerns issues of how the provision of welfare through the pedagogical rationality of various welfare initiatives, in, for example, social work, leisure activities and education are performed. By considering individuals as active with the ability to learn, efforts are directed towards equipping individuals with skills and abilities to be themselves involved in managing their situation. The ways in which welfare initiatives are organized politically and administratively by public actors, such as municipalities in particular in the practice alerts interest towards how boundaries between different policy areas are not always clear. An example of this concerns how sports and cultural and leisure activities at the municipal level are conditioned by social and educational policy conditions. In relation to this, the research concerns the role attributed to civil society or voluntary efforts in relation to welfare. The focus in research is thus on various aspects of how welfare and social work are managed and shaped as tools for governing individuals and the population. Empirically, the themes covered here have mainly been examined with a spotlight on how sport have been assessed and utilized as a response to social problems.


ORCID 0000-0002-6252-9220

Books and scientific articles


Dahlstedt, M. & Ekholm, D. (red.) (2021) Idrottens kraft? Ungas livsvillkor och ojämlikhetens problem i en segregerad stad. Lund: Studentlitteratur.


Ekholm, D. (2016). Sport as a Means of Responding to Social Problems. Rationales of Governing, Welfare and Social Change [PhD-thesis]. Linköping studies in arts and science, no. 687. Linköpings universitet.

Scientific publications

Ekholm, D. & Dahlstedt, M. (2020). (Re)Forming the In-/Outside: On Place as a Governable Domain through Sports-based InterventionsSocial Inclusion 8(3), 177-186.

Ekholm, D. & Dahlstedt, M. (2020). A model of discipline: the rule(s) of midnight-football and the production of order in subjects and societyJournal of Sport and Social Issues 44(5), 450-475.

Ekholm, D. & Holmlid, S. (2020). Formalizing sports-based interventions in cross-sectoral cooperation: governing and infrastructuring practice, program and preconditions.Journal of Sport for Development 14, 1-20.

Ekholm, D. & Dahlstedt, M. (2019). Pedagogies of (de)liberation: salvation and social inclusion by means of Midnight FootballSport, Education and Society. Doi: 10.1080/13573322.2019.1694504

Ekholm, D. (2019). Sport as a means of governing social integration: discourses on bridging and bonding social relationsSociology of Sport Journal 36 (2), 152-161.

Ekholm, D. & Lindström Sol, S. (2019). Mobilising non-participant youth: using sport and culture in local government policy to target social exclusion. The International Journal of Cultural Policy 26(4), 510-523.

Ekholm, D., Dahlstedt, M. & Rönnbäck, J. (2019). Problematizing the absent girl: sport as a means of emancipation and social inclusionSport in Society 22 (6), 1043-1061.

Ekholm, D. & Dahlstedt, M. (2018). Rationalities of good-will: on the promotion of philanthropy through sports-based interventions in Sweden. Managing Sport and Leisure 23(4-6), 336-349.

Ekholm, D. & Dahlstedt, M. (2018). Forming the association-like organisation: On civil society, welfare provision and sport as a means of social inclusionInternational Journal of the Sociology of Leisure 2, 219-238.

Ekholm, D. (2018). Governing by means of sport for social change and social inclusion: demarcating the domains of problematization and interventionSport in Society 21(11), 1777-1794.

Ekholm, D. & Dahlstedt, M. (2017). Football for inclusion: examining the pedagogic rationalities and the technologies of solidarity of a sports-based intervention in SwedenSocial Inclusion 5(2), 232-240.

Ekholm, D. (2017). Mobilising the sport-based community: the construction of social work through rationales of advanced liberalism. Nordic Social Work Research 7(2), 155-167.

Ekholm, D. (2017). Sport-based risk management: shaping motivated, responsible and self-governing citizen subjectsEuropean Journal for Sport and Society 14(1), 60-78.

Ekholm, D. (2013). Sport and crime prevention: Individuality and transferability in researchJournal of Sport for Development 1(2), 67-78.

Ekholm, D. (2013). Research on Sport as a Means of Crime Prevention in a Swedish Welfare Context. A Literature Review. Scandinavian Sport Studies Forum 4, 91-120. 

Ekholm, D. (2012). Handledning av examensarbeten som lärande i the zone of proximal development. Högre utbildning 2(2), 67-78.


Chapters in published books 

Holmlid, S., Ekholm, D. & Dahlstedt, M. (2021) Practice occludes diffusion: Scaling sports-based social innovations. I: Tjønndal, A (ed). Social Innovation in Sport (57-77). Palgrave Macmillan.

Dahlstedt, M. & Ekholm, D. (2019). Social exclusion and multi-ethnic suburbs in Sweden. I: Hanlon, B. & Vicino, T.J. (eds.) The Routledge Companion to the Suburbs (163-172). New York: Routledge.

Ekholm, D. (2019). Mellan självständighet och kontroll: civilsamhället som samhällsbyggare genom idrott som socialpolitiskt verktyg. I: Syssner, J. (red.) Ett nytt kontrakt för samhällsbyggande? (125-150). Boxholm: Linnefors.

Dahlstedt, M. & Ekholm, D. (2019). Midnattsfotboll – ett svar eller symptom på ojämlikhet? I: Norberg, J.R (red.) Idrotten och (o)jämlikheten – I medlemmarnas eller samhällets intresse? Centrum för idrottsforskning 2019:2, Stockholm.

Ekholm, D. & Dahlstedt, M. (2018). Fotboll och sammanhållningens pedagogik. I: Dahlstedt, M. (red) Gränsöverskridande socialt arbete: Teorier, tillämpningar, tolkningar (109–128). Malmö: Gleerup.

Ekholm, D. & Öhlund, T. (2018). Idéburet socialt arbete som kraft för social rättvisa?. I: Dahlstedt, M. & Lalander, P. (red) Manifest: För ett socialt arbete i tiden (237-250)Lund: Studentlitteratur.

Dahlstedt, M. & Ekholm, D. (2018). Idrotten och frihetens krafter – viljan att aktivera (107-126). I: Dahlstedt, M. (red) Förortsdrömmar: Ungdomar, utanförskap och viljan till inkludering. Linköping Studies in Social Work and Welfare 2018:3.

Dahlstedt, M. & Ekholm, D. (2018). Den sociala exkluderingens mekanismer (47-68). I: Dahlstedt, M. (red) Förortsdrömmar: Ungdomar, utanförskap och viljan till inkludering.Linköping Studies in Social Work and Welfare 2018:3.

Reports and other publications 


Ekholm, D. & Svensson, E. (2020). En strategi för samverkan och rörelse. Om Region Östergötlands folkhälsopolitiska strategi Sätt Östergötland i rörelse. CKS-rapport, 2020:2. Linköpings universitet.

Ekholm, D. (2019) Idrott som lokal socialpolitik: kommun och civilsamhälle i samverkan. CKS-rapport, 2019: 2. Linköpings universitet. 

Other publications

Ekholm, D. (2019). Värdet av fotboll som social insats Kommunal ekonomi, nr 3, s. 38-40

Ekholm, D. (2018). Idrott som en lösning på sociala problem: Framträdandet av en kunskap och praktik i skärningspunkten mellan idrotts- och

Ekholm, D. & Holmlid, S. (2018). Idrott för integration – så blir satsningen hå 

Ekholm, D. (2017). Midnight Basketball – om relationen mellan ras, sport och neoliberalism i det urbana USA. Recension av Hartmann, D. Midnight Basketball: Race, Sports, and Neoliberal Social Policy.

Dahlstedt, M. & Ekholm, D. (2016). Inclusion as assimilation: Sports and civil society as a venue for welfare provision. Working Paper Series, Volume X: The Third Sector in Transition: Accountability, Transparency and Social Inclusion.

Ekholm, D. (2016). När idrotten är lösningen blir individen

Ekholm, D. (2016). Människan som medborgare och varaTidskriften Vy 1: 54-59

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Research and teaching