The Introduction of Capitalism into the Family. New Forms of Paid Family Care and the Consequences for Gender Inequality

Tuesday, 12 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 33 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Christopher GRAGES, University of Hamburg, Germany
Thurid EGGERS, University of Hamburg, Germany
In most European societies in the mid-20th century senior care was mainly organized as unpaid work in the private family household, and was the wife’s duty. Feminists showed that women’s care responsibility was among the main reasons for women’s labour market marginalization and gender inequality.  

Since the 1990s most welfare states have strengthened social rights and infrastructure to the advantage of senior citizen care provision. As a consequence of this change, informal, unpaid work in the private sphere of the family has partly been transformed into formal, paid care work in the formal employment system in the public sphere outside the family. It is often overlooked that many welfare states have also extended caring family members’ social rights and support. They have also introduced a variety of new hybrid forms of paid care work in family care work that share main features of work in the formal employment system outside the family.

The question that this paper aims to answer is: What are the consequences of these new policies towards paid family care regarding gender inequality? And how far do the consequences differ between different types of policies towards paid family care?  The paper introduces a new, multi-dimensional theoretical approach to a classification of the new welfare state policies towards paid family care. This approach distinguishes different ideal-types of family care policies on the basis of the main forms and degree of generosity towards paid care by family members, and how far family members of care dependent elderly people are free to choose not to care because generous formal, paid care work in the public sphere is guaranteed.

The empirical study is based on a comparative analysis of different types of policies towards paid family care in 10 European welfare states, and of the potential consequences regarding gender inequality.