Different Paths of Family Policy Modernization in Continental Welfare States

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 10:45 AM
Room: F204
Oral Presentation
Silja HÄUSERMANN , university of Zurich, Switzerland
Christine ZOLLINGER , Political Science, University of Zurich, Zürich, Switzerland
Family policy in continental welfare states strongly reflected the male breadwinner model at the beginning of the 1970s. This model has become increasingly ill-suited with regard to new social structures and values. This paper studies the impact of new social needs and demands on family and care policy and politics in Germany and Switzerland. The power resources approach falls short of explaining the recent continental care policy “modernization”, since the labor movement has no strong interest in care policy and the mobilization of women’s organizations has remained weak. The paper argues that the politics of reform must be analyzed with a coalitional approach in a multi-dimensional policy space. Indeed, the adaptation of the male breadwinner model to new needs and values can be achieved along different paths, namely via a) the recognition of care work (recognition model), b) increased female labor market participation (working mother model) or c) an overall rebalancing of work and care for both men and women (social transformation model). Both the working mother model and the social transformation model contain elements of the social investment agenda. Each of these reform directions gives rise to different conflict lines that foster specific actor alliances. 

Based on an empirical analysis of actor positions in all family policy reform processes since the 1970s, the results show that in both countries, social-liberal value alliances and cross-class alliances between employers and the left have become important drivers of the working mother model, whereas social-conservative alliances tend to advocate the recognition model. This multi-dimensionality of care policy modernization has led to sequential waves of care policy reforms in Germany and to reform stalemate in Switzerland until the end of the 1990s. Recently, social-liberal and cross-class alliances have become successful drivers of family policy, mostly in the direction of a working mother model.