Photo of Jonathan Josefsson

Jonathan Josefsson

Associate Professor

My research interests concern primarily children and child studies, migration politics, political philosophy and ethics. 

Children and young people's rights and citizenship in global politics

Today, it seems obvious that children and young people are citizens with rights - but what rights do they have in practice, what strategies do they employ to demand rights, and how does their agency influence political decisions, agendas, and institutions? In my research and teaching, I am interested in how children and young people are subjects of politics and act as political actors in issues such as voting rights, migration, climate, democracy, and international relations.

My research can be divided into three main strands: Children, youth, and migration; Children's and young people's democratic participation; and Children, youth, and international relations. What unites these strands is their aim to study societal challenges related to children and young people's rights, citizenship, and agency in national and global politics

Children, youth, and migration

In my dissertation project, "Children at the Borders" I studied two specific arenas where norms regarding the rights of asylum-seeking children and immigration control have been established and questioned in recent years in Sweden: the Swedish Migration Court of Appeal and Sweden's largest morning newspaper, Dagens Nyheter. I combined empirical analysis with theoretical investigations of asylum-seeking children's rights in dialogue with political philosophy concerning membership, rights, and borders. In my Post-doc project "Non-citizen children and anti-deportation campaigns" (funded by the Swedish Research Council, 2018-2019), I deepened the study of young migrants' political agency by focusing specifically on the political strategies, protest movements, and political activism driven by children and young people themselves in collaboration with other actors in civil society to demand the right to stay. In the project "Youth Representation in Global Politics: Climate, Migration and Health Governance Compared" (funded by the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences, 2020-2023), the focus shifts from a national to an international context as I, along with my colleagues, examine how and by whom young people are represented in contemporary global institutions and what the effects of such representations are in the areas of climate, migration, and health.

Children's and young people's democratic participation

As part of the project "Universal Suffrage? Limitations of Suffrage in Sweden after 1921" (funded by the Swedish Research Council, 2018-2021), I, together with my colleague Bengt Sandin, examined the political debate surrounding changes in age limits and suffrage restrictions during the 20th century to shed light on how the boundaries of political citizenship have been negotiated and changed in the emergence of Swedish democracy. In the projects "Growing up in a Warming World" (funded by FORMAS and MISTRA, 2021-2022) and "Youth Climate and Environmental Mobilisation in Swedish Politics" (funded by Formas, 2023-2026), I, together with Frida Buhre from Uppsala University, investigate young people's political mobilization in Sweden and internationally for a more radical climate and environmental policy in the public sphere, in courts, and in political institutions. In these projects, we specifically focus on children and young people's experiences of political activism, how mobilization is shaped in relation to the democratic arenas where it takes place, what new political and ethical horizons they seek to open, and the effects of mobilization on climate and environmental policy.



Children, youth, and global politics

A consistent interest in my research has been how children and young people mobilize and are represented in global politics. As the editor of the thematic issue on Child Rights Governance (together with Anna Holzscheiter and Bengt Sandin, 2019), we aimed to highlight the need to study how children’s rights have become part of global governance logics. As part of this agenda, I, in an international network of researchers on children’s rights (with PI Afua Twum Danso), have explored questions of how children’s rights can be linked to issues of children’s political representation in various contexts and parts of the world, resulting in the anthology “The Politics of Children’s Rights and Representation (2023)." The fact that international organizations have increasingly opened up to children and young people's participation, representation, and partnerships over the past decades is a particular focus of the project "Youth Representation in Global Politics: Climate, Migration and Health Governance Compared" (funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, 2020-2023). While our research shows how new institutional opportunities have been created for young people's participation in global politics since the 1990s, we also see in our study "Pathways to Global Politics: Children, youth and the making of global civil society 1920–1992" that young people's engagement in global politics needs to be placed in a longer historical context. The purpose of this project is to map, based on Swedish civil society, the historical processes that have shaped children and young people's global engagement and international participation during the period 1920-1992.




In recent years, I have taught and been course director for several courses at basic and advanced level at Linköping University such as Children’s rights and Children, migration and Transnational Childhoods at the International Master Program in Child Studies. I have regularly been contributing with lectures and seminars at the Teacher Training Program in courses on education policy, education history, migration and school development and have previously been director in courses of political theory and ethics. In 2022 and 2024 I am, together with Professor Karin Zetterqvist Nelson, directing the international PHD summer course, "Listening to Children: rights, participation and voices of children in research and politics"

Research Projects

Young people protesting 1975-1980

Pathways to Global Politics

The project explores the historical participation of children and youth in global issues and their pathway into world politics. The aim is to illuminate the significance of historical development for youth engagement in today's global politics.

Sign about the climate in a protest

Youth Climate and Environmental Mobilisation in Swedish Politics

Despite limitations in democratic processes due to their minority status, children and young people participate in various arenas to influence decisions regarding climate and sustainability issues. This project examines this mobilisation.

Children demonstrating

Growing up in a Warming World

In August 2018, 15-year-old Greta Thunberg initiated a school strike in defiance of an adult world that has failed to take climate change seriously. Since then, Fridays for Future has grown into one of the largest protest movements ever.

Schoolstrike regarding the climate.

Youth Representation in Global Politics

Young people´s concerns in critical transboundary issues such as climate, health and migration have gained significant attention in recent years. In practice, however, the ways in which youth are given voice in global governance remains contested.

People demonstrating.

Universal suffrage? Voting restrictions and disenfranchisement in Sweden after 1921

n 2021 Sweden celebrates the 100th anniversary of universal and equal suffrage. At least, this is what is stated in prevailing historiography. But how universal did the voting rights actually become and how did age play a role in limiting suffrage?

Young people at a demonstration in Stockholm.

Non-citizen children and anti-deportation campaigns

At a time when migration is being restricted, anti-deportation campaigns have become a political strategy for the right to stay. This project study how young migrants mobilize, what political repertoires are used and what effects they have.


Recent Publications


Jonathan Josefsson (2024) Theorizing Child Migration: Experiences, Governance, Normativity The Bloomsbury Handbook of Theories in Childhood Studies, p. 338-348


Bengt Sandin, Jonathan Josefsson, Karl Hanson, Sarada Balagopalan (Editorship) (2023) The Politics of Children´s Rights and Representation
Jonathan Josefsson, Bengt Sandin, Karl Hanson, Sarada Balagopalan (2023) Representing Children The Politics of Children’s Rights and Representation, p. 1-28 Continue to DOI
Jonathan Josefsson (2023) Political strategies of self-representation: The case of young Afghan migrants in Sweden The Politics of Children's Rights and Representation, p. 275-299 Continue to DOI
Anna Sparrman, Yelyzaveta Hrechaniuk, Olga Anatoli Smith (Ivanova), Klara Andersson, Deniz Arzuk, Johanna Annerbäck, Linnea Bodén, Mindy Blaise, Claudia Castañeda, Rebecca Coleman, Florian Eßer, Matt Finn, Daniel Gustafsson, Peter Holmqvist, Jonathan Josefsson, Peter Kraftl, Nick Lee, Karín Lesnik-Oberstein, Sarah Mitchell, Karin Murris, Alex Orrmalm, David Oswell, Alan Prout, Rachel Rosen, Katherine Runswick-Cole, Johanna Sjöberg, Karen Smith, Spyros Spyrou, Kathryn Bond Stockton, Affrica Taylor, Ohad Zehavi, Emilia Zotevska (2023) Child Studies Multiple: Collaborative play for thinking through theories and methods Culture Unbound. Journal of Current Cultural Research, Vol. 15 Continue to DOI
Jonathan Josefsson (2023) The representative breakthrough?: children and youth representation in the global governance of migration Children, childhoods, and global politics, p. 87-100


Bengt Sandin, Jonathan Josefsson (2022) The Reform that Never Happened: A History of Children's Suffrage Restrictions Exploring Children's Suffrage: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Ageless Voting, p. 131-152 Continue to DOI
Bengt Sandin, Jonathan Josefsson (2022) Age as a yardstick for political citizenship Voting age and eligibility age in Sweden during the twentieth century Continuity and Change, Vol. 37, p. 257-280, Article PII S0268416022000212 Continue to DOI