Theory and the Meaning of State Feminism and Global Patriarchy

Thursday, 14 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 41 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Michael RUSH, School of Applied Social Science, University College Dublin, Dublin 4, Ireland
Theories of patriarchy are central to a range of social sciences including sociology, gender studies, psychology and social policy. Previous research involved theoretical schisms between familial-based theorisations of patriarchy concerned with fathers as heads of households and meanings derived from concepts of hegemonic masculinity or patriarchy as a global system of male dominance. These latter theories tended to eschew any inter-generational aspects of patriarchy in favour of a focus on power imbalances between adult men and women and the social reproduction of gender inequalities. This paper revisits sociological meanings of theory, not in order to resolve these schisms, but rather to highlight their significance to gender studies and comparative social policy research on welfare state variations in the social citizenship rights and welfare outcomes of men, women and children. The analysis is based on a historical review of cross-national epistemology and policy. The review is focused specifically on countries with convergent work-life balance policies involving paid and individualised parental leave provisions combined and with varying degrees of children’s social citizenship rights to centre-based childcare arrangements. The countries include Sweden, Germany, Japan and Portugal as exemplars of Nordic, Central European, East-Asian and Southern European welfare regimes. The study reveals that the concept of ‘state feminism’ has gained significance to feminist epistemology on gender equality and welfare state variations. The study proposes that national level concepts of ‘state feminism’ and regional-level concepts of Nordic feminism, East-European feminsim and East-Asian feminism are central to explanations of an epochal decline in global patriarchy or de-patriarchalisation and also to understanding the concept of neo-patriarchy and facets of re-patriarchalisation in advanced welfare states, particularly the USA.