FREIA – Center for Gender Research – was founded in 1990 as an interdisciplinary research center at Aalborg University, based on 15 years of work in the field of gender study at Aalborg University (for more, see for example FREIA’s Text series no. 2 / 1992 Feminist Research). FREIA is today the oldest and largest Danish research center within the social sciences- Since 1990 the center has contributed to developing new methodological and theoretical approaches within social science gender research as well as to the integration of gender into the main research areas of the social sciences.
The research group has thus had a dual objective; to apply gender as a separate approach to understand societal development; and to integrate gender into broader social science research programs, for example on welfare, work, migration, democracy and citizenship. A central point has been to analyse how gender influences the interactions between state, market and family as well as the creation of identities, institutions and communities in the private and public sphere.
FREIA has followed the general move from women’s – to gender studies, and today the center conducts research that focus broadly on the meanings of gender in relation to key areas of society. One important research field encompasses masculinity research. Another important area is intersectionality understood as analytical approach, which is able to sharpen the understanding of the interaction between gender and other differentiating and inequality creating categories (such as class, race/ethnicity, sexuality, age/generation etc.)
Through a series of historical and comparative research projects and analyses of gender divisions in the labor market, in the welfare state and democracy, FREIA has contributed to making the specific characteristics of the Danish and Nordic welfare and gender regime visible in a European and international perspective (see FREIA’s working paper series).
In later years FREIA has added the transnational/global perspective as a methodological starting point and research field to the original focus on historical and comparative studies.
During the last 20 years FREIA has contributed to the founding and evolution of a series of national, Nordic, European and international networks, has coordinated and participated in a large number of externally funded research projects, networks and – collaborations and been involved in a number of interdisciplinary PhD-networks focusing broadly on gender, welfare, wage work and democracy.
Arguably FREIA’s respect for the interdisciplinary character of gender theories and emphasis on the pluralism of the methodological approaches to gender research has been a major strength. FREIA has from the start been composed of scholars/researchers working together across different disciplines such as sociology, political science, statistics, anthropology and history. Presently participants include scholars from philosophy, international and European studies. In addition FREIA’s researchers combine expertise and competences from both qualitative and quantitative methods and approaches, for example individual interviews, focus group interviews, observation, field work, case studies, statistical analysis (for example longitudinal studies), document- and policy analysis and discourse- and frame analysis.