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Åsa Lundqvist

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Activation policies and changing family relations

How Active Labour Market Policies Shaped the Dual Earner Model

Åsa Lundqvist

This book is about how the activation of women into paid work was accomplished. On what ideational grounds, and using what concrete measures, were the conditions created for increasing the employment ratio of women – and thus also bidding farewell to male breadwinning? The answers to these questions are outlined in seven chapters. Chapter 1 provides an introduction to the field of study. Previous research on the intersection between gender relations and family and labour market polices is outlined and analysed. Subsequently, ideas and practices underpinning activation policies over time and across Europe are presented and addressed as a way of contextualizing the Swedish case. The consequences for gender and family relations of the presented work–family policies are also scrutinized. This is followed by a presentation of the main conceptual tools of the study. Historical institutionalism is used as an overarching theoretical frame, including the significance of the political and bureaucratic elite in social and political change, the evolution of state feminism, and the political culture in the golden age of the welfare state. The chapter also addresses methodological issues related to the empirical findings.

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The politics of paid work

How Active Labour Market Policies Shaped the Dual Earner Model

Åsa Lundqvist

Together with the development of the social and family policy field, the full employment policy including the introduction of an active labour market policy is one of the strongest expressions of Swedish post-war development. In turn, the activation of the labour force, including housewives, was one of the most important components of the active labour market policy. This chapter seeks to outline the labour market policy context in which the activation of women emerged. To explain the underlying ambitions, the ideological framework and the institutional conditions, this chapter focuses on the development and consolidation of early active labour market policies as expressed through the Rehn–Meidner model. The chapter showcases the historical development of active labour market policy ideas and goals as well as the establishment and growing importance of the National Labour Market Board (AMS), including the Public Employment Service.

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The activation project: mission, goals and visions

How Active Labour Market Policies Shaped the Dual Earner Model

Åsa Lundqvist

Chapter 3 aims to present the activation policies and measures directed towards women between the 1960s and the 1980s, especially those activities developed by the Activation Section. The Activation Section was established by the AMS in the early 1960s and charged with the development of concrete activation measures, both in terms of training and through information and persuasion campaigns and opinion-shaping activities and methods. The chapter begins with a discussion about female employment patterns more generally, and their location in the labour market. Subsequently, the work within the Activation Section is examined, emphasizing its overarching mission, organization and goals. It is followed by an analysis of the introduction of the Delegation for Gender Equality between Women and Men, which initiated various ‘breakthrough projects’ across the country mainly aiming at introducing female labour in male-dominated sectors and breaking gender segregation in the labour market.

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Activation through training

How Active Labour Market Policies Shaped the Dual Earner Model

Åsa Lundqvist

Chapter 4 is dedicated to vocational training as an activation measure. Vocational training was used as a central feature of active labour market measures as early as the late 1950s, mainly through special courses to educate or retrain women without gainful employment. In these early days, middle-aged women were targeted, but the group expanded and soon included all women without gainful employment. Various forms of education are analysed, including how women were recruited to vocational training. The chapter offers a brief introduction to the history of the expansion of vocational training, and its central role for labour market policy. Moreover, the relationship between regular education and vocational training is discussed, as are the initiatives to recruit women to male-dominated workplaces. This latter issue developed into a great concern at the time, involving the recruitment of working-class women into industrial work.

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Activation through information and persuasion

How Active Labour Market Policies Shaped the Dual Earner Model

Åsa Lundqvist

The AMS understood early on the importance of effective information and public outreach via the fast-growing media. Informing the public and shaping public opinion were meant not only to attract women to the labour market but also to influence and persuade the population to change their attitudes towards the prevailing housewife ideal. A number of such opinion-shaping campaigns and experiments are addressed in Chapter 5. First, the radio series Hemmafru byter yrke [The housewife switches jobs] is analysed. The programmes were meant to inform women about labour market conditions, various career choices and training opportunities. The chapter continues with an analysis of the activities (including experiments) carried out by a body established in 1965, the Working Group for Increased Labour Market Information to Families. The group informed women and families across the country about the possibilities of gainful employment.

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The activation inspector

How Active Labour Market Policies Shaped the Dual Earner Model

Åsa Lundqvist

The AMS introduced a new position in 1965, the activation inspector. The activation inspector was meant to reinforce local activation efforts by conducting local studies and coordinating established training and education initiatives; that is, the inspector was meant to carve out local solutions that would facilitate women’s entry to the labour market. In this last empirical chapter, former activation inspectors’ experiences of the activation project are the point of departure. The chapter begins with a presentation of the advent of the position itself: its goal and mission. This section is followed by an analysis of the concrete activation measures implemented by the inspectors, with special emphasis on the many inventive activities introduced at the time. The chapter also addresses how the activation inspector worked with gender equality issues and whether or not we can conceptualize activation inspectors as a generation of early state feminists.

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Activating women: aim, means and consequences

How Active Labour Market Policies Shaped the Dual Earner Model

Åsa Lundqvist

This book focuses on how the activation of women into paid labour was accomplished and how it contributed to a farewell to male breadwinning and the transformation of gender relations in Sweden. The final chapter draws together the issues raised in earlier chapters and illustrates their relevance in contemporary debates on family, work and gender relations. It discusses how ideas, ideologies, measures and strategies transformed the lives of families in a short period of time. The chapter thus addresses a critical question: ‘What can be learned from the Swedish experience?’ It focuses on 1) persuasion as a means to full employment, 2) the role of gender equality in the activation project, and 3) the differences created between women who were activated. Above all it engages in a critical discussion on activation policies and the consequences for family and gender relations.

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Transforming Gender and Family Relations

How Active Labour Market Policies Shaped the Dual Earner Model

Åsa Lundqvist

This book is about how the activation of women into paid work was accomplished. It looks at the ideational grounds and the concrete measures that created the conditions for increasing the employment ratio of women, and thus also a farewell to male breadwinning.
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Åsa Lundqvist

The purpose of this chapter is to explore the development - and inherent challenges - of the normative foundations of Nordic family and gender equality policies between the 1960s and today, with particular emphasis on the Swedish case. The following main questions guide the analysis: How have Nordic family and gender equality policies been constituted and articulated? Which drivers and underlying ideas have shaped the development of family and gender equality policies over time? In the analysis, four different phases are identified. These phases are in turn interpreted as a way of emphasizing the ‘bumpy road’ of family and gender equality policies, and to trace the different discursive layers of such policies. Hence, by identifying the content of these phases, the goal is to underline continuity as well as change and ruptures in the normative foundation of family and gender equality policies.