Exhibiting Fatherhood

I take a sociological approach in my research, and attempt to combine it with my interest in family research and visual culture. Child Studies and family research are growing fields where researchers with backgrounds in different disciplines work together to produce new knowledge and understandings of children, parents and families. My contribution to the field is my focus on visual culture in relation to fatherhood – something which is often overlooked in this field.

Although I am still in the process of defining and refining my research topic I have decided that I will be focusing on photographs of fathers. I am particularly interested in the exhibition of photographs of fathers and how fatherhood is presented through both images and texts, and how fatherhood is represented in different contexts.

Analyzing the exhibition of "Swedish Dads"

In my research, I am interested in how images of fathers are portrayed, displayed and exhibited. In particular, I am interested in an exhibition called ‘Swedish Dads’ which was produced by Swedish photographer Johan Bävman. This exhibition was later adopted by the Swedish Institute as a means of show-casing the Swedish parental leave system and promoting the notion of gender-equal parenting as a means of achieving gender equality.

The exhibition has subsequently travelled to Swedish embassies in over 35 countries. Many of these countries also hosted their own photo competitions whereby local fathers could submit images of themselves and their children. In some cases, the winning images were exhibited together with the ‘Swedish Dad’ exhibition.

Together, these images and exhibitions (along with the surrounding documentation and media coverage) constitute the material for my study.

Inter-disciplanry background

Originally from South Africa, I moved to Sweden in 2014 in order to do my Masters in Child Studies at the Department of Thematic Studies (Tema Barn). I have a diverse, inter-disciplinary background. I primarily consider myself a qualitative researcher, with an interest in narratives, gender and identity. However, I have also studied Demography and Populations Studies and have worked as a quantitative researcher for a non-governmental organization in South Africa. I hold a Master’s degree in the Sociology of Health and Illness (Wits University, South Africa), as well as a Master’s degree in Child Studies (Linköping University, Sweden).

Sarah Mitchell talks at TEDxNorrköping SalonSarah Mitchell talks at TEDxNorrköping Salon. Photo: Emelie Fälton




TEDxNorrköpingSalon: Truth, lies and photographs

Sarah, invited lecturer at TEDxNorrköpingsalon on June 7, 2018 presented her ongoing research.

"Lately there has been much talk of ‘fake news’, and the idea that we are living in a ‘post-truth’ era. At the same time, the assumption that ‘seeing is believing’ is still deeply ingrained. We believe that if we have visual evidence of something, it must be true. This is often illustrated by the way we respond to photographs – treating them as ‘proof’ of a knowable reality. While it might be tempting to see photographs in this way, I would like to challenge this assumption by looking deeper into the complex processes involved in seeing. Through this talk, we will have the opportunity to reflect on our own notions of truth and reality and how we try to use our sense of sight to ‘know’ the world around us. We will have the chance to draw on Buddhist philosophy, theories of visual culture and our own, personal experiences as we explore ideas of truth and reality in relation to photographs." /Sarah MitchellSarah Mitchell talks at TEDxNorrköping Salon


CV in short

  • 2016-
    Doctoral Candidate Child Studies, Linköping University, Sweden
  • 2014
    MA Child Studies, Linköping University, Sweden
  • 2012
    MA Health Sociology, Linköping University Sweden
  • 2011
    BA (HONS), University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
  • 2010
    BA, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa


The masters programme in Child Studies:

  • Anthropological perspectives on children and childhood
  • Sociological perspectives on children and childhood


I supervise students in the Masters programme on Child Studies and Teacher Programme.


Erasmus, PhD Summer School – Social Psychology of Family Life, Roskilde University 

Travel Grants

The 9th European Society on Family Relations (ESFR) congress 

Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation

Social Media

Linked-in Profile: Sarah Mitchell