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Gender Divisions and Working Time in the New Economy

Changing Patterns of Work, Care and Public Policy in Europe and North America

Edited by Diane Perrons, Colette Fagan, Linda McDowell, Kath Ray and Kevin Ward

Contemporary societies are characterised by new and more flexible working patterns, new family structures and widening social divisions. This book explores how these macro-level changes affect the micro organisation of daily life, with reference to working patterns and gender divisions in Northern and Western Europe and the United States.
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Chapter 9: Care Politics for Fathers in a Flexible Time Culture

Berit Brandth and Elin Kvande


Berit Brandth and Elin Kvande The many current claims about transformations in working life have made scholars of the welfare state area pronounce that the main challenges today are tied to finding the appropriate responses to these changes (Carnoy, 2002; Esping-Andersen, 1999). The old models do not seem to fit any more because the social policy programmes we are familiar with were based on another work system. Flexible work and flexible employment may find it difficult to function together with rigid social rights. Not even the conservative models based on free-market thinking are working any longer, Carnoy claims, because they are based on a family model whose ‘best before’ date has expired, and which ironically depends on the welfare state to function today. Bearing in mind changes both in work and family structures, and the diversity that welfare state measures have to deal with, in this chapter we are concerned with the type of care schemes that work and the reasons why they work. In the 1990s Norway introduced two comprehensive reforms of care policy, the fathers’ quota in 1993 and the cash-for-care scheme in 1998. One of the intentions behind these reforms was to give parents of small children more time to care for their children. ‘Giving back time to the family’ was one of the slogans used in the debates preceding the extension of the parental leave and the introduction of the cash-for-care scheme. Another important topic for discussion in today’s debate on welfare policy is the freedom...

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