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Family policy paradoxes

Family policy paradoxes: Gender equality and labour market regulation in Sweden, 1930-2010

Åsa Lundqvist
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  • Book Info
    Family policy paradoxes
    Book Description:

    Family policy paradoxes examines the political regulation of the family in Sweden between 1930 and today. It draws attention to the political attempts to create a 'modern family' and the aspiration to regulate the family and establish gender equality, thereby shedding light on ongoing policy processes within Europe and how these can be understood in the light of a particular political experience. The book is valuable for researchers, lecturers, undergraduate and graduate students who study gender, gender equality and welfare state development in gender studies, sociology, social and public policy, social work, politics and social/contemporary history

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-742-7
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. ONE Introduction: understanding the political regulation of the family
    (pp. 1-22)

    Feminists across nations demand gender equality. Resistance against long-lasting patterns of inequality in society, at work and within the family is growing. New patterns of gender relations prevail across Europe and serve as examples of the ongoing resistance against gender inequalities. Female employment continues to expand. As a result, the male-breadwinner model has lost its dominance throughout Europe, albeit with considerable variations between member states (Crompton, 1999, 2006; Daly, 2000; Lewis, 2001, 2003, 2009; Hantrais, 2004; Lewis and Giullari, 2005). Men no longer necessarily have sole responsibility for the household’s income, and women are no longer the sole providers of...

  2. TWO Mapping, evaluating and formulating modern family life
    (pp. 23-40)

    The dire consequences of industrialisation triggered much debate over the ‘social question’, in Sweden as elsewhere. Poverty and unemployment were the two main issues debated in political and intellectual circles during the early decades of the 20th century, but they were not the only ones. Rescuing the family from the destructive effects of industrialisation was identified as the key to the long-term survival of society; saving the family from poverty, bad housing conditions and infant mortality, and upholding assumed morally correct sexual behaviour thus came to the forefront of debates. Perhaps the most debated issue concerned decreasing fertility rates, but...

  3. THREE The family in the Swedish model
    (pp. 41-60)

    The welfare institutions that were established in post-war Sweden had counterparts elsewhere in Europe, and the ideas behind the welfare policies were primarily imported from elsewhere. The Beveridge Report, which shaped many debates and policy practices in the immediate post-war, is a case in point (Beveridge, 1942). As time went on, international policy trends filtered down into national institutional and political trajectories. One such trajectory was the Swedish model and the template for conflict resolution that had been devised in the 1938 Saltsjöbaden Agreement, which was complemented and sustained by an active labour market policy, social insurance and, later, the...

  4. FOUR Towards gender-neutral ideals and gender equality politics
    (pp. 61-82)

    Eva Moberg, author and debater, wrote these words in the edited volumeYoung Liberals. Her article came to play a large role in a debate that resulted in the transformation of family policy in the 1960s. The issues that she raised – whether caring were a task only for women, and whether women were only ‘on probation’ – disturbed the equilibrium of the family debate, which, despite all the reforms that had been enacted in the 1940s and 1950s, still glorified motherhood and the nuclear family.

    Eva Moberg was not alone in showcasing the lack of gender equality. The new...

  5. FIVE Family policy in the age of neoliberalism
    (pp. 83-106)

    This chapter turns to the evolution of family policy in an era marked by the contraction of the state, erratic economic growth and cuts in welfare services. Developments in family policy (and social policy in general) had formerly been shaped by seemingly endless economic growth, creating a manoeuvring space for ambitious reformers. Around 1980, however, the era of big reforms and the ever-expanding state seemed to be over. The corporatist decision-making model and the bureaucratic state came under increasing fire. One of the many facets of corporatism was the system of public commissions as a means of surveying areas of...

  6. SIX Family policy and gender equality in the new millennium
    (pp. 107-128)

    The first decade of the new millennium has been a dramatic period in the history of gender equality and family policy. Starting with an analysis of how (radical) feminism came to the fore in the policy battles of election campaigns in the early 2000s, which resulted in the establishment of a new political party called Feminist Initiative, this chapter explores how the Swedish political landscape turned feminist. However, the initial success of feminist policy ambitions was to end in conflict and the resulting political death of feminism. Meanwhile, family policy developed, built on the foundations laid in earlier decades; the...

  7. SEVEN Conclusion: family policy paradoxes
    (pp. 129-138)

    This study examines the political regulation of the family in Sweden between 1930 and 2010, a period where a relationship has always existed between gender equality ideology and family policies to a greater or lesser extent, and where the two have sometimes even overlapped or have become mutually reinforcing. Despite this, the relationship has been complicated both to establish and to describe. The history of the Swedish family is therefore not one of linear progress from gender inequality to shared responsibilities under the auspices of the state, but rather one of false starts and contradictions between different and sometimes incompatible...