The ‘Dependent Variable Problem’ in Comparative Analysis
Edited by Jochen Clasen and Nico A. Siegel
Chapter 11: (In)Dependence as Dependent Variable: Conceptualizing and Measuring ‘De-familization’
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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