7. Gendered Welfare State: Socialism, Post-Socialism, and Post-Postsocialism

Dr Jana Javornik , Department of Sociology,  Umeå University, Sweden, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dr Triin Roosalu, Institute of International and Social Studies, Tallinn University, Estonia, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Relative to Western capitalist countries, post-socialist EU member states have been distinguished by comparatively high employment rates of women in full-time jobs since the 1950s. Scholarship on female employment largely relates female employment trends in post-socialist countries to their ‘exceptional’ history and socialist legacy, and argues that the socialist state eroded the bonds of family life, freeing, and forcing, women to join the labour force.

State socialism has undeniably shaped their institutional legacies. Therefore, comparative welfare state research generally distinguishes these countries from Western capitalist countries as “exceptional”, and as such routinely employs a regional cluster of ‘Eastern/post-communist’ welfare regime type. Thereby, similar contextual history notwithstanding, country comparative welfare state research often overlooks that these countries had not enter the ‘new’ era with common institutional legacy or collective experiences. Rather, they have endorsed, legitimized and shaped contrasting social norms and values about acceptable and desirable gender roles, and through their national policy incentives they reinforced, or challenged different “ethos” of gendered norms and practices. It is therefore indispensable in enhancing the interpretative capacities of welfare state theory to tease out relevant country distinctions in public efforts towards women in employment - an attempt which has gained little methodologically substantiated attention.

The proposed stream aims at exploring work-family policies and their influence on childcare, female employment and gender equity in Central and Eastern Europe, and invites papers addressing the following sets of issues:

How female employment and policy interventions have been shaped and legitimized, and how policy discursive mechanisms are framed?

Are female employment patterns and social organisation of care legacies of the socialist era? Institutional change, historical-institutional developments - how could we use critical insights and past experiences to inform thinking about the way policies are formed, entitlements expected and practices shaped?

How gender equity is understood in policy interventions, and how work-family policies shape women's employment, with particular focus on employment of mothers / carers?

How have the established interests and party-political compromises in the contemporary era of austerity shaped and informed work-family policies?How central have they been in negotiations for limited state support from 2008 onwards? Specifically, are any such systemic/policy changes sustainable in the face of population ageing, diminishing work force and strained public finances?

This stream calls for papers that focus on all these issues drawing on both quantitative and qualitative data. It encourages country comparative papers and papers that offer an opportunity for a more nuanced assessment of a larger number of CEE countries, thereby challenging geographical boundaries of contemporary welfare state studies. We are particularly interested in the issues of transformation of work-family policies and general issues of institutional change since the 1950s. Although the focus is on CEE, the stream also considers submissions that include FSU countries.

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