Parenting and Democracy in Contemporary Europe
Edited by David G. Mayes and Mark Thomson
The organisation of the family round the period of childbirth and the raising of preschool children not only lies at the heart of the modern welfare system. It is also the source of the most fundamental distinctions between the treatment of men and women in society. How these arrangements are determined and modified are key issues for the democratic process. Since they affect all families in one way or another it is perhaps rather surprising how much discontent there is with the nature of the arrangements that prevail. In many people’s eyes, though, these care arrangements are a source of unfairness and injustice in the way that different welfare systems work, particularly with regard to the treatment of women, especially those on lower incomes. The effects of raising children remain profoundly gendered in terms of lost earnings, gender pay gaps, reduced pension rights and delayed career prospects for mothers who spend significant periods outside the labour market providing a vital welfare service – that is, the care of young children.