Policy Press

Diminished rights

Danish lone mother families in international context

By Valerie Polakow, Therese Halskov and Per Schultz Jørgensen


Jul 18, 2001

Page count

204 pages




234 x 156 mm


Policy Press
Diminished rights

Denmark is one of the most progressive countries in terms of family support policies. This book, however, reveals a backdrop of diminished rights, inequalities and family violence in the lives of vulnerable lone mothers. If this is the case in Denmark, what is the situation in other countries, including the USA, the UK and other EU member states?

Diminished rights is a unique qualitative study that documents the daily lives of vulnerable lone mothers and their children in Denmark. Loss of rights, gender and ethnic inequality, and family violence all emerge as key themes, with far-reaching international implications. The book:

· presents vivid case stories to illuminate the voices and experiences of the women involved in the study;

· identifies lone mothers as part of an emerging post-modern underclass in Denmark;

· highlights the disturbing prevalence of domestic violence that pervades many lone mothers' lives;

· raises questions around legal and child custody rights and the lack of redress in a patriarchal justice system.

Policy and practice recommendations are made with wide-ranging applications for an international audience of policy makers, practitioners and academics.

"Drawing comparisons with welfare reform rhetoric and realities in the UK and USA, this powerful book makes a critical contribution to cross-national social policy and child and family literature." Beth Swadener, Early Childhood Education, Kent State University, USA

"This compelling volume contributes important voices and richly contextualised narrative data to a growing cross-national literature on lone mothers, children and the state." Beth Swadener, Early Childhood

"I highly recommend this book to all policy-makers, academics and practitioners interested in an international perspective of lone-mother families." International Social Work

"This is a powerful book ... an important book that says some very useful things about Danish social policy." Contemporary Sociology

"Diminished rights is an exciting book ... It will be essential reading for policy makers, workers in welfare and childcare as well as scholars in this field." Ann Phoenix, Department of Psychology, Open University

"The findings of this research are highly informative, topical and relevant to the UK. The book should be recommended reading on social work training courses across the country." Maureen Marsh, Barnardo's, Lawrence Weston Family Centre, Bristol

"... a penetrating study ... Diminished rights is an important account for Europeans and North Americans who study, work in, and inhabit welfare states, and for everyone concerned with the well-being of single mothers and their children." Peggy Kahn, Department of Political Science, University of Michigan-Flint, USA

Valerie Polakow is Professor of Educational Psychology and Early Childhood Studies at Eastern Michigan University, USA. She was a Fulbright scholar in Denmark in 1995, and has written extensively about women and children in poverty, and welfare and child care policies. Therese Halskov is Associate Professor at the Danish National School of Social Work, Copenhagen. She has conducted research on vulnerable populations in the EU and authored several books on social work. Per Schultz Jørgensen is former Professor of Social Psychology at the Royal Danish School of Educational Studies, Copenhagen. He served as Chairman of the National Council for Children in Denmark from 1998-2001.

Contents: Introduction: lone motherhood in international context; Part One: Whither equality? The worlds of Danish lone mothers: Critical obstacles confronting lone mothers; Struggling against the odds; Fighting for an education; Part Two: The outsiders - the worlds of ethnic minority lone mothers: Life on the margins; Part Three: Violence and the culture of silence: Life under siege; Conclusion: policy and practice recommendations.

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