Culture of Silence

Culture of Silence


AFA Insurance

Project type



When the #MeToo movement highlighted sexual harassment in the entertainment industries a culture of silence was described as a breeding ground for misconduct. Ann Werner, Södertörn University, has together with Anna Lundberg and Isak Benyamine been given funding by AFA Försäkring Research to pursue a research project about the culture of silence in the Swedish performing arts and to develop a material that can be used by actors in the performing arts to prevent and deal with harassment.

The project will investigate the culture of silence that, according to previous reports, is one of the main reasons that sexual harassment and other forms of harassment can continue in the performing arts. The inner workings of a culture of silence, how it can be prevented and how it contributes to issues in the work environments, such as sexual harassment, will be studied. As will the reasons that the culture of silence persists in the performing arts.

Harassment and cultures of silence also involves bystander, colleagues that see what happen, and either does nothing or might say something. Research has proven a connection between workplace cultures, workplace policy and the tendencies to either speak up or be silent among the staff. In this research project we will interview staff in the performing arts, performers but also back-stage staff, about their experiences of harassment and workplace cultures. To complement these interviews observations of rehearsals and meetings will be performed, policies from the institutions participating will be collected and interviews with leaders and HR managers will be completed. This type of qualitative research with both staff, management, workplace processes and policies in the material is rare. For the project to succeed the researchers will closely collaborate with performing arts institutions that actively contribute to the study.

The project as a whole aim to contribute with knowledge on the norms, structures and social relations that constitute cultures of silence in the Swedish performing arts and enables sexual harassment and other harassment. Further, it aims to provide the institutions of Swedish performing arts with material and methods to prevent a culture of silence, and its negative consequences for workplaces and individuals.

Project information

Anna Lundberg, Associate Professor of Gender Studies, Riksteatern

Isak Benyamine, Associate Professor of Education, Stockholms universitet

Research area / geographic area

Culture and Education Gender Studies Critical and Cultural Theory Philosphy & religion Sweden

Contract ID

dnr 200282

Project time

2022 — 2025


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