Table of Contents

Investigating Welfare State Change

Investigating Welfare State Change

The ‘Dependent Variable Problem’ in Comparative Analysis

Edited by Jochen Clasen and Nico A. Siegel

With contributions from leading international scholars, this important book presents a comprehensive examination of conventional indicators (such as social spending), available alternatives (including social rights and conditionality), as well as principal concepts of how to capture change (for example convergence and de-familization). By providing an in-depth discussion of the most salient aspects of the ‘dependent variable problem’, the editors aim to enable a more cumulative build-up of empirical evidence and contribute to constructive theoretical debates about the causes of welfare state change. The volume also offers valuable suggestions as to how the problem might be tackled within empirical cross-national analyses of modern welfare states.

Chapter 11: (In)Dependence as Dependent Variable: Conceptualizing and Measuring ‘De-familization’

Sigrid Leitner and Stephan Lessenich

Subjects: social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, welfare states

Extract

Sigrid Leitner and Stephan Lessenich INTRODUCTION Looking at the current wave of social policy reform in Western Europe, it might seem as if these were pretty good times for the ‘women-friendly welfare state’ feminist politics and research have been striving for over the last two decades or so. In the context of a broad reform process framed almost everywhere throughout the EU (15) in terms of ‘employability’ and ‘activation’, the advancement of female labour market participation ranks high – if not first – on the political agenda of social policy makers. Women’s well-being (or ‘well-fare’), understood as their belated labour market individualization, stands at the centre of a new, postindustrial welfare equilibrium. As Gøsta Esping-Andersen (2002a: 3), the spiritus rector of European welfare state restructuring, puts it, ‘[i]deological predilections aside, it should be evident to all that we cannot afford not to be egalitarians in the advanced economies of the twenty-first century,’ and gender equality, at least as far as access to the labour market is concerned, is absolutely central to the agenda of the new egalitarianism. In order to free women from family care responsibilities and to enable their labour market participation, the ‘de-familization’ of welfare production has been established as the golden rule of welfare reform. The locus classicus of the mainstream understanding of ‘de-familization’ (or, as he puts it, ‘de-familialization’) is Esping-Andersen’s The Social Foundations of Post-Industrial Economies (1999: 45–6, 50–1). The simple formula to be found there, equating ‘an active policy...

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