Chapter 1: Introduction: Contested Concepts in Gender and Social Politics
1. Introduction: contested concepts in gender and social politics Barbara Hobson, Jane Lewis and Birte Siim The purpose of the book is to present some of the key contested concepts in gender and social politics using cross-national perspectives and to contribute to the gendering of theory in the social sciences. Our approach is interdisciplinary, comparative and policy-oriented. It is interdisciplinary in that we integrate research in sociology, history, social policy and political theory. It is comparative in that we confront the convergences and divergences in the development of European welfare states. It is policy-oriented through our analyses of the shifts in political discourses and the changes in socio-political conﬁgurations that mirror changing gender relations. The research themes reﬂect our interest in the transitions of welfare states, democracy and citizenship, and focus on recent changes in the meaning and politics of social care, paid work, fatherhood and gender equality. We built our research around a common core of theories and conceptual vocabularies that we developed during a decade of cross-national and interdisciplinary dialogues. The authors were all participants in the European Network on Theory and Research on ‘Women, Welfare State and Citizenship’1 and comprise the team of scholars who worked within the European Community thematic network: Gender and Citizenship: Social Integration and Social Exclusion in European Welfare States (1996–1999).2 The book is the fruit of a long-term research co-operation between this group of scholars that produced several books and articles (Lewis, 1993, 1997; Hobson, 2000, 2001). The...
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