Care Policy and Gender Equality: A New Contribution to the Theoretical Debate about Familialisation and De-Familialisation

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 15:45
Oral Presentation
Thurid EGGERS, University of Hamburg, Germany
Christopher GRAGES, University of Hamburg, Germany
Birgit PFAU-EFFINGER, University of Hamburg, Germany
The paper aims to contribute to the theoretical debate about the role of care policies for gender equality. It is often argued that welfare state policies support either extra-familial care work (= de-familialising policy) or family care work (= familialising policy), and that mainly only de-familialising policies support gender equality. The paper links its argument to more complex approaches which were recently introduced. It proposes to re-conceptualise the relationship between “de-familialisation and familialisation” and their role for gender equality. It argues that policies towards familial care and policies towards extra-familial care represent different types of policy that vary relatively autonomously. Welfare states combine them in different ways, depending on policy aims and main cultural ideals. Moreover, in a specific setting of care policy, also policies that support family care can contribute to gender equality.

On the basis of a comparative study for five European welfare states, which represent different types of welfare regimes, the paper investigates how welfare states combine their policies towards familial care with their policies related to extra-familial care with regard to their generosity, and it analyses the consequences for gender equality and the reasons for the differences, using document analysis of care policy legislation, MISSOC data and expert interviews.

The findings support the argument that de-familialising and familialising care policies vary relatively independently of each other. They indicate that welfare states can offer a similar generosity in both types of care policy, and that both are often part of a general care policy package that treats both types of care in a similar - more or a less generous - manner. More generous welfare states often pursue a strategy that offers generous support for both types of LTC policies, supporting the financial autonomy of family carers and thereby promoting gender equality.