Handbook on Gender and Social Policy
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Handbook on Gender and Social Policy

Edited by Sheila Shaver

Providing a state of the art overview, this comprehensive Handbook is an essential introduction to the subject of Gender and Social Policy. Bringing together original contributions and research from leading researchers it covers the theoretical perspectives of the field, the central policy terrain of gender inequalities of income, employment and care, and family policy. Examining gender and social policy at both the regional and national level, the Handbook is an excellent resource for advanced students and scholars of sociology, political science, women’s studies, policy studies as well as practitioners seeking to understand how gender shapes the contours of social policy and politics.
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Chapter 19: Gender policy in the Netherlands: from a redistributive to an identity-based approach

Trudie Knijn


Family and gender policies in the Netherlands have been and still are of an ambivalent nature. This chapter reflects on gender- and family-related policies in the context of the Dutch political system that is known for its coalition governments and a hybrid Dutch welfare state. From a gender perspective, a recent turn to neoliberalism has opened windows of opportunity for human rights-based identity politics, but it has also closed doors to further development of redistributive and equal rights-based welfare policies. The chapter focuses on the country’s liberal gender diversity policy approach representing the population’s social cultural orientation. That orientation is crucial in understanding the country’s leading position regarding diverse family forms and reproductive and LGBTI rights. The chapter further argues that social policies regarding gender equality have up to now been only partly successful in the country with high rates of women working part-time – though mainly by preference – and underdeveloped care policies. Finally it argues that this worsening is caused by austerity politics with regard to public services that are discursively framed as ‘participation society’. The ‘participation society’ discursive framework combines a gender-blind neoliberal ‘help yourself’ and a communitarian ‘help each other’ turn away from the already fragile efforts to reconcile work and care in the Netherlands.

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