Work–Family Balance, Gender and Policy

Work–Family Balance, Gender and Policy

Jane Lewis

This important book looks at the three main components of work–family policy packages – childcare services, flexible working patterns and entitlements to leave from work in order to care – across EU15 Member States, with comparative reference to the US. It also provides an in-depth examination of developments in the UK. Variations in national priorities, policy instruments, established policy orientations and the context for policy making in terms of employment patterns, fertility behaviour and attitudes towards work and care are highlighted.

Chapter 6: Concluding Reflections on Gender Equality and Work–Family Balance Policies

Jane Lewis

Subjects: development studies, family and gender policy, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, family and gender policy

Extract

6. Concluding reflections on gender equality and work–family balance policies Work and family balance policies have taken a larger place on the political agenda in most EU15 member states since the late 1990s. Structural, social and economic changes in families and labour markets have made work and family issues more prominent. The changing contributions that women in particular make to families, which have involved many more mothers earning, have resulted in more time pressure, especially, many would suggest, in respect of the unpaid work of care. It can be argued that governments have increasingly recognised a set of ‘new social risks’ arising from these changes, particularly in terms of making additional provision via cash benefits or services for childcare. For example, explicit recognition of the erosion of the traditional male breadwinner model family that was the basis of the early twentieth century welfare settlement and its implications for policy can be found in UK post-1997 policy documents. Nevertheless, the ‘recognition of new social risks’ argument has functionalist overtones. For it is also apparent that work–family balance policies have played a part in the changing agendas of modern welfare states and the preoccupations of policymakers at European Union (EU) and Member State levels with the challenges of globalisation, as they have made renewed effort to harness social policies to effective economic and employment policies. The attempt to raise the level of mothers’ employment and calls for the ‘modernisation’ of social provision have featured largely in...

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