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Women‘s employment in the context of culture and work-family arrangements in a comparative perspective

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Birgit Pfau-Effinger, University of Hamburg Women‘s employment in the context of culture and work-family arrangements in a comparative perspective Employment patterns in Germany, the Netherlands and Finland, 2003 (Source:OECD 2006; Luxembourg: Eurostat 2005)

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slide1
Birgit Pfau-Effinger, University of Hamburg

Women‘s employment in the context of culture and work-family arrangements in a comparative perspective

slide2
Employment patterns in Germany, the Netherlands and Finland, 2003 (Source:OECD 2006; Luxembourg: Eurostat 2005)
slide3
Structures of households with children 0-15 years old in Germany and Finland (Source:OECD 2006; European Social Survey 2005)
central question
central question
  • How can cross-national differences in the behaviour of women between family and employment be explained?
common argument in comparative social policy research
common argument in comparative social policy research
  • Welfare state policies determine the behaviour of women between labour market and family (labour force participation, part-time work, informal family care).
  • Cross-national differences in the behaviour of women between work and family can therefore be explained by differences in the type of welfare state (for ex. Siim 2000; Lewis 1998)
challenging this argument
challenging this argument
  • Many European welfare states have established generous rights for children to public childcare provision (like also Finland and Netherlands).
  • Take up rates however are very different. The real structures of supply of public childcare reflect a mixture of family policies and behaviour of families (take up rates).
  • The degree to which the welfare state provides public childcare among other things also reflects cultural attitudes in the population towards childcare.
attitudes towards childcare and mother s employment issp 2002
A pre-school child is likely to suffer if his or her mother works (strongly agree/agree)

Women should stay at home when they have children under school age

Poland

55,0

56,5

West Germany

55.8

52,0

Spain

52.2

37,0

France

42.4

43,7

Netherlands

39.8

28,6

Great Britain

37.1

56,2

Finland

36,1

39,8

East Germany

32.7

14,8

Denmark

32.4

23,3

Attitudes towards childcare and mother‘s employment (ISSP 2002)
basic assumption concerning the explanation of women s behavior between family and employment
basic assumption concerning the explanation of women‘s behavior between family and employment
  • Cultural differences, besides institutional differences, contribute substantially to the explanation of cross-national differences in the behaviour of women between family and employment.
  • Cultural differences also interact with welfare state policies, even if there can be tensions and contradictions.
  • Women act in the context of cultural values and models towards the family, welfare state policies and other institutions, like labor markets.
slide9
Explanation of women‘s behavior in the

context of the work-family arrangement

slide10
Defining ‚culture‘ and ‚family culture‘

culture defined asconstructions of sense to which people orient in their behaviour, it includes values and models, briefly: ideas(Neidhard 1992; Lepsius 1990; Archer 1995)

  • family culture
  • the family culture comprises the basic ideas in a society which are related to the family, the gender division of labout and the work-family relationship
  • the family culture connects family and waged work in different ways in different societies (and in part also in different classes/regions/ethnic groups).
the central dimensions of the family culture include values and models in relation to
The central dimensions of the family culture include values and models in relation to...
  • the division of labor within the family
  • the adequate sphere for the upbringing of children (family, or external childcare provision)
  • the main sphere/s of work of women and men the societal esteem for each of these sphere
  • the degree of dependence/autonomy in the relationship of spouses
the main family models of the 20th and 21rst century in west europe
the main family models of the 20th and 21rst Century in West Europe
  • the family economy model
  • the housewife model of the male breadwinner family
  • the male breadwinner/female part-time carer model
  • the dual breadwinner/outside care model
  • the dual breadwinner/dual carer model
main relevant elements of the work family arrangement for the explanation of the differences
main relevant elements of the work-family arrangement for the explanation of the differences
  • the dominant family model(s)
  • the welfare regime: policies relating to the relationship of the citizen towards the welfare state (Esping-Andersen 1990, 1999)
slide15
Histocial explanation why a specific family model is dominant
  • The current differences in the dominant family model can to a substantial degree be explained by the degree to which the housewife model of the male breadwinner family was relevant in the earlier stage of development (1950s and 1960s).
  • The cultural differences which existed at that stage (1950s and 1960s) can particularly also be explained by the role of the urban bourgeoisie in the history of the respective society.
historical explanation model for the cultural differences in the 1950s 1960s
Germany (West)

Netherlands

Finland

Housewife model of the male breadwinner family as dominant practice

1950s until beginning of 1970s

17th Century until the beginning of 1970s

Never

Housewife model of the male breadwinner family as dominant cultural model

Start of 20th Century until beginning of 1970s

17. Century until the beginning of 1970s

Never

Important explanatory factor

The importance of the urban bourgeoisie in transition to modern society

Social, political and culturally important role since later 19th Century

Cultural, social and political dominance since 17th Century

Cultural, social and political dominance of the class of farmers until (late) transition to industrial and service society (1960s, 1970s)

Historical explanation model for the cultural differences in the 1950s/1960s
cross national differences in women s behavior between family and employment
Cross-national differences in women‘s behavior between family and employment
  • The relationship of culture, welfare state policies and individual behaviour can be conceptualised as a complex, multi level relationship which is embedded in the specific context of a society and can change in contradictory ways.
  • The introduction of culture can contribute to an increase in the explanatory power of concepts to explain cross-national differences in the behaviour of individuals between family and employment.
  • Cultural differences contribute substantially to the explanation of cross-national differences in the behaviour of women and men between family and work.
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