Diversity of Gender Arrangements and the Work-Family Relationship of Women with Small Children in Europe

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 2:30 PM
Room: 315
Oral Presentation
Birgit PFAU-EFFINGER , Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany


The central question of the paper is: Which are the main patterns of the ways in which women with children 0-2 years combine employment and childcare in European societies? And how is it possible to explain cross-national differences? The paper introduces the theoretical approach of the “gender arrangement” of the author as an explanatory framework for cross-national differences. This approach emphasizes the mutual, and in part contradictory, interrelations and dynamics between culture, institutions, social structures, economic structures and actor’s constellations and action, which form the societal context for the structures of care work in a society. The paper applies this approach for the explanation of the differences in the work-family relationship of women with children below age three in eight European welfare states. The comparative analysis finds that the countries of the study cluster into four different patterns of the combination of women’s employment and care for children under three. It is shown how the differences in the cultural, social and economic context and in welfare state policies in different European societies, and the ways in which they interact, make a particular contribution to explaining cross-national differences in the patterns of mother’s employment and childcare. This analysis demonstrates that family policies alone cannot explain cross-national patterns for organizing child care, and that considering cultural models, family policies and socio-economic differences together leads to a more satisfactory explanation of the societal relationship between women’s employment and child care.