There is great diversity in social service arrangements across countries. Some offer broadly accessible social services for their citizens, while in others social transfers and social services are fragmented and not available to everyone. Some care services are targeted or conditional, and therefore selective, while others are universally available. Institutional features such as these shape the extent and the ways in which citizens access care services and affect people’s well-being and way of life. They have a part in defining what role public policies play in societies and how states relate to their subjects. The design of social services is in that sense normatively consequential, and this chapter seeks to identify their overall character and conceptual underpinnings. It explores the core ambitions and policy goals underlying social service designs and identifies differences in normative commitments across policy fields and countries and over time. Ideal-typical policy conceptions are identified, which capture the goals and priorities informing the design of social service institutions. Two evaluative dimensions are then introduced, which map the diversity of public policy conceptions: priorities and core commitments and main orientation and targets. The framework is then put to use by analysing social service developments in three different policy fields and countries: care for older people in Finland, childcare in the UK, and housing services for asylum seekers in Sweden. These illustrations show that political rhetoric often strays far from institutional realities and underscore the need to investigate deeds, rather than words.
Margitta Mätzke, Anneli Anttonen, Peter Brokking and Jana Javornik
Blanca Deusdad, Jana Javornik, Rosa Mas Giralt and Raquel Marbán-Flores
This chapter explores changes in care policies and how these affect gendered opportunities in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. It focuses on Spain and the United Kingdom, two national case studies that have very different cultural and policy trajectories. Although legislation and measures supporting parental leave, child care services and care for older people were introduced in both countries in the 1990s and 2000s, austerity measures following the financial crisis of 2008 have disrupted those policy directions. Both countries lack a strategic and sustainable approach to gender equality in care. In Spain, family solidarity mechanisms have resumed, with forced re-familisation and co-habitation. In the United Kingdom, the national deficit reduction plan has cut local government budgets for care services to older people and children. These changes have interrupted the ‘policy transformative potential’ brought about by programmes and legislation supporting care services during the previous two decades. As a consequence, in both countries, women’s access to well-paid jobs and professional development remains a challenge, in the context of insufficient and superficial gender equality legislation.