9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN14 Gender Relations in the Labour Market and the Welfare State

2009-09-05 15:30:00 2009-09-05 17:00:00 Saturday, 5 September 15:30 - 17:00 Work and Families II Building II, Auditório B1.03

Gender, Care and the Labour Market; The Changing Partnership between the State and The Family

Anne Coakley
Gender Care and the Labour Market; the Changing Partnership between the State and the Family

Framing the analysis in the context of the changing economic landscape, this paper explores the transitions now occurring in gender care and the labour market .
The social investment trajectory has been rolled out in individual EU countries. To this end, EU funded investment in childcare from the 1990s aimed to promote gender equality in the labour market in particular to facilitate womens participation in paid work. Unlike the high investment public provision model found in Nordic countries, Ireland belongs to a group of countries including Australia and Canada where the private market model is the focus of state funding on childcare together with direct cash subsidisation for parents.

This paper provides a framework for understanding the current transitions in employment losses, care, migration and consequences for gender relations in the family. Over a decade of extensive economic growth, the lack of public investment in childcare as an investment in children represents a lost opportunity. It also means that in these uncertain economic times the Government can further distance itself from a childcare service that is largely located in the private market. The most recent Irish figures show unemployment rising steeply for immigrant groups and for men and women.
In many European countries a state partnership with the family has evolved sharing the responsibility of childcare. Indeed in Scandinavian countries there was a defamilising of childcare into the public sector from the 1970s (Leira ,2006). Care must be respected as a practice of democratic citizenship (Sevenhuijsen,2002). It is important to examine the changing partnership between the state and the family in the context of rising unemployment and further changes in migration patterns across Europe. At a comparative level it is timely to compare different models of childcare investment and the outcomes for gender and care relationships.