Politicising parenthood in Scandinavia

Gender relations in welfare states

Edited by Anne Lise Ellingsæter and Arnlaug Leira


Jun 7, 2006

Page count

296 pages




234 x 156 mm


Policy Press
Politicising parenthood in Scandinavia

How to respond to the needs of working parents has become a pressing social policy issue in contemporary Western Europe. This book highlights the politicising of parenthood in the Scandinavian welfare states - focusing on the relationship between parents and the state, and the ongoing renegotiations between the public and the private. 

Drawing on new empirical research, leading Scandinavian academics provide an up-to-date record and critical synthesis of Nordic work-family reforms since the 1990s. A broad range of policies targeting working parents is examined including: the expansion of childcare services as a social right; parental leave; cash benefits for childcare; and working hours regulations.

The book also explores policy discourses, scrutinises outcomes, and highlights the similarities and differences between Nordic countries through analyses of comparative statistical data and national case studies. Set in the context of economic restructuring and the growing influence of neo-liberal ideology, each chapter addresses concerns about the impact of policies on the gender relations of parenthood.

"Politicising parenthood in Scandinavia" is a timely contribution to ongoing policy debates on welfare state models, parenthood and gender equality. It will be of particular interest to students and teachers of welfare studies, family policy and gender studies.

"This book is a very valuable and timely contribution to writing in comparative social policy, family policy, gender and equality." Journal of Social Policy

"This collection of essays explores and explains the significance of the differences and similarities in recent developments in the social, economic and employment policies for supporting parenthood within the four Scandinavian countries. Sharing a clear analytical framework, these essays represent comparative social policy at its best. They should be required reading for political scientists in general as well as those interested in achieving gender equality in particular." Hilary Land, Emeritus Professor of Family Policy, University of Bristol, UK

Anne Lise Ellingsæter is Professor of Sociology at the University of Oslo, and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Social Research, Oslo, Norway. Arnlaug Leira is Professor of Sociology at the University of Oslo.

Introduction: politicising parenthood in Scandinavia ~ Anne Lise Ellingsæter and Arnlaug Leira;

Part One: Politicising parenthood: legacies and challenges: Parenthood change and policy reform in Scandinavia 1970s-2000s ~ Arnlaug Leira; Nordic fertility patterns: compatible with gender equality? ~ Marit Rønsen and Kare Skrede;

Part Two: Gender equality and parental choice in welfare state redesign: Nordic men on parental leave: can the welfare state change gender relations? ~ Johanna Lammi-Taskula; The public-private split rearticulated: abolishment of the Danish daddy leave ~ Anette Borchorst; The Norwegian childcare regime and its paradoxes ~ Anne Lise Ellingsæter; Parental choice and the passion for equality in Finland ~ Minna Salmi;

Part Three: Work, family and the welfare state: redefining family models: Woman-friendliness and economic depression: Finland and Sweden in the 1990s ~ Heikki Hiilamo; Working time and caring strategies: parenthood in different welfare states ~ Thomas P. Boje; Diverging paths? The dual-earner/dual-carer model in Finland and Sweden in the 1990s ~ Anita Haataja and Anita Nyberg; Lone motherhood in the Nordic countries: sole providers in the dual-breadwinner regimes ~ Anne Skevik; Epilogue: Scandinavian policies of parenthood - a success story? ~ Anne Lise Ellingsæter and Arnlaug Leira.