Changing Relations of Welfare

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Changing Relations of Welfare

For Leonore Davidoff Family, Gender and Migration in Britain and Scandinavia Edited by Janet Fink The Open Unive

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Changing Relations of Welfare

For Leonore Davidoff

Changing Relations of Welfare

Family, Gender and Migration in Britain and Scandinavia

Edited by Janet Fink The Open University, UK Åsa Lundqvist University of Lund, Sweden

© Janet Fink and Åsa Lundqvist 2010 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the publisher. Janet Fink and Åsa Lundqvist have asserted their right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the editors of this work. Published by Ashgate Publishing Limited Ashgate Publishing Company Wey Court East Suite 420 Union Road 101 Cherry Street Farnham Burlington Surrey, GU9 7PT VT 05401-4405 England USA British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data Changing relations of welfare : family, gender and migration in Britain and Scandinavia. 1. Family policy--Great Britain. 2. Family policy-Scandinavia. 3. Gender-based analysis--Great Britain. 4. Gender-based analysis--Scandinavia. 5. Equality--Great Britain. 6. Equality--Scandinavia. 7. Immigrants--Great Britain--Social conditions--20th century. 8. Immigrants-Scandinavia--Social conditions. 9. Great Britain--Social policy. 10. Scandinavia--Social policy. I. Fink, Janet. II. Lundqvist, Asa, 1968361.6’1’0941-dc22 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Changing relations of welfare : family, gender and migration in Britain and Scandinavia / [edited] by Janet Fink and Asa Lundqvist. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-7546-7893-9 (hbk) -- ISBN 978-0-7546-9764-0 (ebook) 1. Family policy--Great Britain. 2. Sex discrimination--Great Britain. 3. Great Britain--Social policy. 4. Family policy--Scandinavia. 5. Sex discrimination--Scandinavia. 6. Scandinavia-Social policy. I. Fink, Janet. II. Lundqvist, Asa, 1968HV700.G7C53 2010 361.6’10941--dc22 2009045787 ISBN 978-0-7546-7893-9 (hbk) ISBN 978-0-7546-9764-0 (ebk) III

Contents List of Abbreviations   Notes on Contributors   Acknowledgements  

vii ix xiii

1 Introduction   Janet Fink and Åsa Lundqvist


Part I: Family, Gender Relations and the Welfare State 2 Overshadowed by the Male Breadwinner: Care in 20th Century Britain    Hilary Land 3

Competing Meanings of Gender Equality: Family, Marriage and Tax Law in 20th Century Denmark   Anna-Birte Ravn and Bente Rosenbeck

4 The Institutionalization of Family and Gender Equality Policies in the Swedish Welfare State   Åsa Lundqvist and Christine Roman 5

Paradoxes of Gender and Marital Status in mid-20th Century British Welfare    Janet Fink and Katherine Holden





Part II: Gender, Migration and Social Inequalities 6

Migration, Family and British Social Policy in the Late 20th Century: British Pakistani Perspectives   111 Kaveri Harriss and Alison Shaw

7 The Multicultural Challenge to the Danish Welfare State: Tensions between Gender Equality and Diversity   Birte Siim and Anette Borchorst


Changing Relations of Welfare



Postcolonial Encounters: Migrant Women and Swedish Midwives   155 Diana Mulinari

9 Afterword   Janet Fink and Åsa Lundqvist




List of Abbreviations CA Carers Allowance CEDAW Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women DHSS Department of Health and Social Security DfES Department for Education and Schools Ds Departementsserien [Ministerial report] EC European Council EEC European Economic Community EU European Union HMT Her Majesty’s Treasury ICA Invalid Care Allowance Lpo Läroplanen för förskolan och skolan [National School Curriculum] MWA Moral Welfare Association MWC Moral Welfare Council NCUMC National Council for the Unmarried Mother and Her Child NHS National Health Service NSPA National Spinsters’ Pension Association ONS Office for National Statistics OECD Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development SFI Danish Institute for Social Research SOU Statens Offentliga Utredningar [Government commission reports] TUC Trade Union Congress WTC Working Tax Credit

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Notes on Contributors Anette Borchorst is a political scientist and Professor in Gender Studies at the Department of History, International and Social Studies, Aalborg University. Her research has focused on changes in welfare and gender equality policies and variations in policy logics in different countries. Her publications include ‘Danish childcare policies within path-timing, sequence, actors and opportunity structures’ in Childcare and Preschool Development in Europe – Institutional Perspectives (edited by H. Willeken and K. Scheiwe, Palgrave Macmillan 2008); ‘Women-friendly paradoxes? Childcare policies and gender equality visions in Scandinavia’ in Gender Equality as a Perspective on Welfare: The Limits of Political Ambition? (edited by K. Melby et al., The Policy Press 2008); and ‘Woman-friendly Policies and State Feminism: Theorising Scandinavian Gender Equality’ in Feminist Theory (2) 2009 (with B. Siim). Janet Fink is a Senior Lecturer in Social Policy in the Faculty of Social Sciences at The Open University. Her main research focuses on the historical and contemporary intersections of social policy, family life and popular culture and she has particular interests in the representations of ‘social problems’. She has recently published work related to these interests in Women’s History Review, Cinemascope, Cultural Studies and Paedagogica Historica. In 2009, together with colleagues at the University of Hertfordshire and The Open University, she was awarded a grant from the ESRC Research Seminars Competition to explore the value of visual resources as ‘evidence’ in the policy arena. Kaveri Harriss is a post-doctoral research fellow at the Sussex Centre for Migration Research. With a background in sociology, anthropology and public health, her research interests focus on the impact of transnationalism on the links between migration and health. Her doctoral research, at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, was a study of the material contexts and consequences of long-term ill health among Pakistani migrants in the UK, examining transnational household economies of production, consumption and reproduction. Katherine Holden is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Social Science and Humanities at the University of the West of England, Bristol. Her main research interests are in historical perspectives on the family, with a particular focus on singleness and the care and welfare of children. Her current research is in the history of paid childcare in the parental home. She has published widely with

Changing Relations of Welfare

most recent work in Women’s History Review and Journal of Family History. A key publication relating to her research is The Shadow of Marriage: Singleness in England 1914–1960 (Manchester University Press 2007). She is currently the convener of the steering committee of the UK Women’s History Network. Hilary Land is Emerita Professor of Family Policy in the School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol. She has written extensively on family policies informed by feminist analyses and using both historical and comparative perspectives. Recent publications include ‘Slaying Idleness Without Killing Care: A Challenge for the British Welfare State’ in Social Policy Review 2009. In 2007 she was awarded a lifetime achievement award by the Social Policy Association. Åsa Lundqvist is Associate Professor in Sociology at the Department of Social Work and Social Policy, Lund University. Her research interests include the analysis of social and family policy development and labour market regulation. Her publications include Familjen i den svenska Modellen [The Family in the Swedish Model] (Boréa 2007); ‘Family Policy between science and politics’, in Gender Equality as a Perspective on Welfare: The Limits of Political Ambition? (edited by K. Melby et al., The Policy Press 2008), and ‘Les Families dans la Model de Nordique’ in Revue d’Histoire Nordique (forthcoming). Since 2007 she has been affiliated with the Nordic Centre of Excellence: The Nordic welfare state – Historical foundations and future challenges. Diana Mulinari is a sociologist and Professor in Gender Studies at the Department of Gender Studies, Lund University. Her research interests include critical globalization and femininst and postocolonial studies. Her recent publications include ‘The new Swedish working class. Swedish Unions and migrant workers’ in Race and Class (3) 2004 (with A. Neergaard); ‘The Promise of the “Nordic” and its Reality in the South: The Experiences of Mexican Workers as Members of the “Volvo Family”’ (with N. Rätzel) in Complying with Colonialism: Gender, Race and Ethnicity in the Nordic Region (edited by S. Keskinen et al., Ashgate 2008). Anna-Birte Ravn is Associate Professor in Gender Divisions of Work and Social Change at FREIA, Feminist Research Centre in Aalborg University. Her area of research is gender history, with a focus on women’s movements and the development of the Nordic welfare state and, more specifically, protective labour legislation, tax legislation and family policies in Denmark in the 20th century. She is the editor, with Kari Melby and Christina Carlsson Wetterberg, of Gender Equality and Welfare Politics in Scandinavia: The Limits of Political Ambition? (The Policy Press 2008). Since 2007 she has been affiliated with the Nordic Centre of Excellence: The Nordic welfare state – Historical foundations and future challenges.

Notes on Contributors


Christine Roman is Professor of Sociology at the School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences, Örebro University. A main area of her research is continuity and change in gender relations in work and family. Among her publications are Familjen i det moderna. Sociologiska sanningar och feministisk kritik [Family in Modern Society. Sociological Truths and Feminist Critique] (Liber 2004); ‘Actualising the “democratic family”? Swedish policy rhetoric versus family practices’. Social Politics (4) 2008 (with J. Ahlberg and S. Duncan); ‘Academic discourse, social policy and the construction of new families’ in Gender Equality as a Perspective on Welfare: The Limits of Political Ambition? (edited by K. Melby et al., The Policy Press 2008). Bente Rosenbeck is an Associate Professor in Gender Studies at the Department of Scandinavian Studies and Linguistics, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Her most recent publications include Ikke et ord om kærlighed. Ægteskab og politik i Norden 1850 til 1930 [Marriage and politics in the Nordic Countries 1850–1930] written together with Kari Melby, Anu Pylkkänen and Christina Carlsson Wetterberg (Makadam 2006), and ‘The Nordic Model of Marriage’ in Women’s History Review (4) 2006. Alison Shaw is a Social Anthropologist and a Senior Researcher at the Department of Public Health, University of Oxford. Her research interests include kinship and marriage, race and ethnicity, migration and health, social aspects of genetics and new reproductive technologies. Her publications include Kinship and Continuity: Pakistani Families in Britain (Routledge 2000) and Negotiating Risk: British Pakistani Experiences of Genetics (Berghahn 2009). Birte Siim is Professor in Gender Research in Social Sciences at the Department of History, International and Social Studies, Aalborg University. Her research interests include gender and diversity, citizenship and democracy. Her publications include Contested Citizenship (edited with J. Squires) (Routledge 2008); ‘Tracks, intersections and dead ends. State feminism and multicultural retreats in Denmark and Norway’ in Ethnicities (3) 2008 (with H. Skjeie); and ‘Woman-friendly Policies and State Feminism: Theorising Scandinavian Gender Equality’ in Feminist Theory (2) 2009 (with A. Borchorst).

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Acknowledgements The contributors to this volume are connected through their commitment to an innovative project that brought together researchers working in the fields of history, anthropology, sociology, political science and social policy. Its aim was to compare both the relationships between family, welfare and state in Denmark, Sweden and Britain and the dynamics of power and inequality in the lived experiences of families. As editors of this collection, we would like to thank all those who participated in the different waves of the project and to record the contributions of Naomi Tadmor to the early stages of its development. We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the British Academy, the Department of Social Policy and Criminology at The Open University, the Swedish Bank of Tercentenary and the Swedish Research Council, which enabled us to meet and explore ideas together. We are also thankful to Liber förlag, which published a version of this book in Swedish (Fink and Lundqvist 2009) and which, without hesitation, gave us permission to publish this revised English version. The book is dedicated to Leonore Davidoff, who first brought us together in 2003 and whose work and friendship remains a source of inspiration and support. Janet Fink and Åsa Lundqvist

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Chapter 1

Introduction Janet Fink and Åsa Lundqvist

Experiences of family life in Europe are constantly shifting; the products not only of changes in parenting practices, caring responsibilities, employment trends and migration patterns but also attempts by states to define and regulate the rights and responsibilities of their citizens. At the same time there has been much interest by researchers in examining the different ways in which European governments support and intervene in family life and assessing the effects of policy and legislative reforms. Comparative social policy as a field of historical and contemporary study has thus led to a greater understanding of the range of international welfare regimes and their meanings, usefully illustrating how the development of welfare has been shaped by different economic and employment imperatives as well as the gendered divisions of welfare systems (Melby et al. 2008, Daly and Rake 2003, Esping-Andersen et al. 2002, Daly 2000, Hantrais 2000, Sainsbury 1996, 1999, Orloff 1993, Lewis 1992). This has, in turn, highlighted the many ways in which the state might take responsibility for social welfare and the degree to which welfare benefits and services have successfully addressed or alleviated the effects of inequalities experienced in society generally and by families more particularly (Fink and Lundqvist 2009), Bernini 2007, Ellingsæter and Leira 2006, Morgan 2006, Abrahamson et al. 2005, Williams 2005, Leira 2002, Fink et al. 2001, Hantrais and Letablier 1996). Developments in sociological theory have been similarly influential for the conceptualization of family life, with the work of mainstream theorists such as Giddens (1992), Beck (1992) and Beck and Gernsheim (1995) making important contributions to the analysis of intimate relationships in late modernity and illustrating that analysis of families cannot be undertaken in isolation from other social, cultural and political institutions and processes. Moreover, the development of the idea of ‘family practices’ (Morgan 1996) has provided a conceptual space, which is able to incorporate more than simply seeing the family as a social institution. Morgan’s use of the term ‘practices’ emphasizes fluidity, a sense of the everyday and regularity while insisting that practices are ‘historically [and culturally] constituted and the linkages and tensions or contradictions between practices are historically shaped’ (Morgan 1996: 6). Such a conceptualization of family life thus also engages with contemporary sociological theory and refuses the older, more familiar structuralist paradigm in which families are isolated from other social relationships, experiences and meanings (Silva and Smart 1999). These empirical, conceptual and theoretical developments have meant that the

Changing Relations of Welfare

privileging of the nuclear family norm in policy making and wider common-sense notions about family life and its histories can now be more readily acknowledged and challenged as can the role that families play in maintaining the norms and relations of femininity and masculinity (Davidoff et al. 1999, Mackinnon 2006). This collection builds upon such work and extends the analytical concerns through a very particular engagement with the interactions between families, welfare systems and the state in different contexts of time and place. Using examples developed as part of an interdisciplinary research project to explore similarities and differences in the relationship between family, state and welfare in Denmark, Sweden and Britain, the authors examine the ambiguities of family meanings in policy through the 20th and into the 21st century and consider how family life has been imagined, supported and undermined in policy making and by welfare practices. Their analyses is thus focused upon the meanings afforded to family in different policy, legal and welfare contexts in these countries, the evolution of their welfare regimes and the sometimes contradictory nature of their laws, benefits and services. By examining these different sites and processes and by drawing upon methodological, conceptual and theoretical insights from the disciplines of political science, sociology, history, anthropology and social policy, the contributors to the collection demonstrate the complex, multi-layered and over-lapping relationship between the two domains of welfare and family life. Our objective in bringing together this work is to open up different pathways for comparison of change and continuity in policy making and welfare systems. Chapters in the collection are, therefore, linked by two common concerns. First, they indicate the need to problematize models of welfare, normative discourses and ideologies of family and, in turn, to distinguish between policy rhetoric and family practices. Such an approach foregrounds the ways in which particular family formations and family relationships are constructed as the norm and supported through welfare benefits and services while, at the same time, other family groups and practices are marginalized, regulated or demonized. Access to welfare provision is shown to be contingent upon the particular ways in which welfare subjects, and their perceived rights and responsibilities, are constructed and positioned within policy discourses. Moreover we argue that the construction of welfare subjects in relation to their perceived position inside or outside the boundaries of the nation state is of particular relevance for analyses of family policy and its outcomes. For members of migrant families, where gendered and racialized restrictions have long been applied both to their entry to a nation-state and their access to welfare systems and labour markets, we examine how relations of hierarchy position them as both ‘other’ and inferior (Clarke and Fink 2008) and produce differentiated access to welfare services and benefits (Mulinari 2008, Siim and Squires 2008, Schierup et al. 2006, Morissens and Sainsbury 2005, Castles 2000, Dunkwu 1993). In the last two decades these issues have been played out in different but equally significant ways for family policy in Denmark, Sweden and Britain. In Britain, they can be traced through the idea of ‘hard working families’, identified by the New Labour government in the 1990s as ‘the corner-stone of social order,


responsibility and security’ (Clarke and Fink 2008: 232). However, while New Labour has sought to accommodate ‘useful and productive migrants’ within this idea (Clarke 2004: 67), a more critical stance towards multiculturalism, especially in areas such as education, health and social services, has emerged (Cheong et al. 2007) as has a determination that ‘those who want to settle … pass tests on English language and knowledge of the UK (Home Office 2005:10). In Sweden there has been a shift in welfare policies that were universally inclusive to increasing forms of forced assimilation, sparked by citizenship debates during the 1980s and 1990s about nationhood and the nature of belonging. And during this same period in Denmark there has been a move away from cultural pluralism to a more restrictive welfare regime that expects migrant families to conform to a ‘Danish way of life’ and ‘Danish family values’. The issue of how members of migrant families are constituted as citizens and welfare subjects is, therefore, argued to be a core dimension for analyses of the policy making process. The second concern of this collection is to illustrate how a historical approach to the analysis of family policy can reveal the diversity of national experiences as well as the ambiguity and uncertainty around the reform, development and implementation of welfare. The chapters point to the ways in which political, economic and cultural shifts in wider society have impacted upon policy making and, similarly, how demographic change, the pressures from social movements and the challenges of research evidence have shaped policy ideas and initiatives. Alongside the determination to engage with the ways in which the normative family is constitutive of social inequalities and social differences, the chapters in this collection foreground how knowledge about the family has been in constant flux over the past one hundred years, demonstrating thereby the risks attached to a focus upon the present in analysis of family policy and its effects. For this reason the authors work to avoid any simplistic distinctions between past and present which are often constituted through ideas of ‘sociological time’ wherein frequently unproblem-atized accounts of a stable and settled past tend to be compared with a view of the present as dynamic, mobile and fluid (Clarke and Fink 2008). Instead they argue for the value of historicizing the present rather than stressing the differences of the past. This leads to a greater awareness of the continuities in the conditions, relations and practices that run through the construction and reconstruction of welfare systems while not losing sight of the changes that have more traditionally received analytical and empirical interest in comparative social policy (but see Koven and Michel 1993, Pedersen 1993, Bock and Thane 1991). The determination to avoid simplistic distinctions between past and present in tracing the meanings of family in policy making and welfare practices has also shaped the selection of resources used by the authors as well as the temporal focus of their research. The availability and nature of historical resources varies across time and within the nation states included here, as does their value for the interrogation of particular issues. As a result the chapters draw upon a range of evidence, from policy documents, legislation, government commissions, ethnographic research to life-story interviews with welfare subjects. However

Changing Relations of Welfare

there are also some valuable similarities in the evidence which has been used with, for example, the reports from different commissions in Sweden and Britain being analysed to illustrate how both these bodies constructed ‘expert’ and ‘scientific’ knowledge about family life, its problems and possible policy solutions. In such ways the essays take advantage of the richness and diversity of historical and contemporary resources to develop case studies of specific policies and pieces of legislation as well as overviews of the development of family policies through the 20th century, carefully mapping the shifting, uncertain and at times contradictory meanings of family onto the social, economic and political contexts of Denmark, Sweden and Britain’s welfare regimes. Meanings, Norms and Values in Family Policy To acknowledge the significance of the temporal and spatial dynamics in which knowledge is produced about welfare subjects and practices is not a new strategy but this collection is especially concerned to trace the connections between national processes, categories and sources of knowledge about family lives and the historical moment in which family policy is embedded. The authors examine how the category of family has been defined and imagined through the past century and into the present, highlighting the normative constructions of gender, class, race and marital status contained within those definitions and their effects. By exploring how the boundaries of family life have been constructed and policed through family policy and interrogating how individuals have been constituted, or not, as family members, this approach also restores certain welfare subjects to the analytic lens. Analyses of the categories of migrant women, single women and unmarried mothers in Parts I and II thus illustrate the restriction and regulation of their access to welfare services and benefits and the discriminatory nature of some welfare practices. Moreover with their particular and sustained focus on these categories, the chapters also demonstrate how marginalized groups of welfare subjects can, in turn, expose the normative dimensions of welfare regimes and their exclusionary processes. The moral assumptions and values that shape the nature of welfare benefits and the constitution of welfare rights are, for example, brought sharply into view in Chapter 5 as is the sustained way in which the needs and rights of the heterosexual married couple have for so long been acknowledged and supported in the policy making process. Authors are also engaged with the reasons why some subjects and family formations become the focus of family policy concerns and interventions. As will be seen in Part I, anxiety about population decline as well as the ‘quality’ of the population more generally in Denmark, Sweden and Britain alike meant that poor working-class couples with large families and people with particular psychological and neurological diseases were at the centre of welfare interventions and eugenic debates around marriage, birth control and sterilization in the first half of the 20th century. While in Part II the relations and practices of migrant and


transmigrant families at the end of the 20th century are shown to be the subject of intense scrutiny and regulation across all three countries because they appear not to conform to normative views on family life. The significance attached to different breadwinner models in these value-laden constructions of family life in Danish, Swedish and British policy is traced in all four chapters in Part I and the authors carefully unpick changes, continuities and contradictions through the 20th century. A ‘long view’ of the male breadwinner model and its powerful legacy for Britain’s current welfare system is taken by Hilary Land in Chapter 2. She illustrates how William Beveridge’s recommendations in the early 1940s for the state’s social security system were organized around full male employment and an ideal of family life in which husbands were the principal breadwinners and their wives and children were dependants. Tax allowances, benefit rates and the National Insurance scheme were structured to support the nuclear family, ideologically and economically. As Land argues, this is still being played out at the beginning of the 21st century in Britain. As a result the issue of care and the role of carers remain marginalized in the private world of the home while the masculine culture of work and the public sphere continue to favour those without caring responsibilities. A similar ‘long view’ analysis is offered by Åsa Lundqvist and Christine Roman in Chapter 4 on the development of Swedish family policy. They trace the different breadwinner models that emerged from the work of government commissions through the 20th century as a response to changes in ideologies around women’s place in the home and in the workplace and in concerns, for instance, about declining birth rates and children’s psychological development. Like that of Chapter 2, their analysis illuminates our understanding of the effects of such welfare legacies and their imperatives upon the present and, by mapping the different emphases on particular breadwinner models in the past, both pieces offer a nuanced perspective on the reasons why gender inequalities remain such persistent features of contemporary family life and why the valuing of care work continues to be such an intractable problem for families and governments alike (Pfau-Effinger and Geissler 2005, Daly and Lewis 2000, Meyer 2000, Lewis 1998). The case studies developed in Chapters 3 and 5 are also concerned with the power of breadwinner models to shape the rights, responsibilities and experiences of women. Anna-Birte Ravn and Bente Rosenbeck take the contradictions between Danish marriage and tax laws during the period from 1920 to 1970 to argue that a dual-breadwinner model of family life can be understood as a model for marriage reform in the 1920s since such a model could incorporate and recognize not only the value of women’s work in the home but also women’s individuality, subjectivity and rights. Reform of the marriage acts thus demanded that both women and men must be able to support themselves and their children, albeit predominantly through the gendered roles of provider and housewife. Using examples of the ways in which single women and unmarried mothers were constrained from accessing welfare benefits and services, Janet Fink and Katherine Holden examine the power of the male breadwinner model in different aspects of British social policy during

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the mid-20th century. Like Hilary Land, they too suggest that benefits rates and the organization of the national insurance scheme were crucial in supporting the nuclear family through the male breadwinner. However they also argue that the nuclear family was so normalized in policy that the wider range of familial and quasi-familial relationships, which existed outside those of the nuclear unit with its male breadwinner and dependent wife and children, were left unacknowledged. Accordingly the family responsibilities of single women and unmarried mothers were largely unaddressed and such women had little support in managing the competing demands of paid employment and the home. The Gendered Dynamics of Family Policy These multi-dimensional pictures of the origins, legacies and effects of family policy and its different breadwinner models also bring into view the struggles to address questions of gender equality through the conceptualization of both family life and the relationship between the state and its citizens. In line with the historiography more generally of women’s welfare work (for example, Holden 2007, Kiernan et al. 1998, Kunzel 1993), chapters in Part I illustrate the extent to which women and women’s organizations worked alone and collectively to shape the development and delivery of welfare services and to highlight the gendered inequalities of policy and the law in all three countries from the late 19th century to the end of the 20th century. The interventions of the Danish Women’s Society upon the development of a new Marriage Act in 1925 and its longer-term protests against the gendered tax law system, examined by Anna-Birte Ravn and Bente Rosenbeck in Chapter 3, show the high-profile nature of women’s engagement with the Danish state and its welfare regime. Women’s political influence is also highlighted in Chapter 4, and the respective examples in Chapters 2 and 5 of the Women’s Co-operative Guild and the Spinsters’ Pension Campaign demonstrate how women came together to lobby and take direct political action against policies that were experienced as discriminatory or punitive. Yet these chapters are also sensitive to the tensions and contradictions in women’s engagement with the policy making process. Through the ideas and work of the 19th century feminist Helen Bosanquet, Chapter 2 illustrates how progressive views about the value of women’s education, employment and suffrage were not easily reconcilable with ideologies of marriage and motherhood which positioned women so firmly in the home and within the family. Chapter 3 notes that, by accepting the idea of the family as a ‘natural’ economic unit, the Danish Women’s Society sacrificed gender equality for greater equality between working and middle class families. Moreover Chapter 5 argues that the National Council for the Unmarried Mother and Her Child did not disseminate information about the government’s war-time scheme to support factory workers who were unmarried mothers because of concerns about the public’s possible moralizing


response. There is, therefore, a complex story in Part I of this book about the role of women in the making and implementation of family policy. However it is one which can only be understood through the moral, social and political dynamics of the different periods in which the story unfolds and through the different but shared struggles in these three countries to resist particular constitutions of women’s gendered roles and responsibilities. Some of these struggles are long-standing while others have only emerged in more recent years. The gendered nature of responsibilities for the care of family dependants is an issue which occurs and re-occurs through this collection together with the problem of how such responsibilities might be balanced with labour market participation. As Chapters 2, 4 and 5 suggest, the reconciliation of family life and paid employment has had particularly adverse effects on women who have had to manage and negotiate the roles of wife, mother and worker in these two different arenas. Hilary Land argues in Chapter 2 that time spent outside the labour market is now more highly valued if it is spent consuming rather than caring, with the result that care work performed by women in the family continues to remain undervalued. She also outlines how, with less generous parental leave schemes and more expensive child care systems compared to Denmark and Sweden, mothers in Britain have tended to be in part-time work, with lower pay, less security and fewer opportunities for training and promotion as a result. At the same time, by pointing to the emphasis on the parental role in recent British family policy, Chapter 5 suggests the ways in which gender neutral categories and discourses fail to address the particular issues around work–life balance which face employed women with children because the normative role of mother continues to be so deeply influential in the configuration and negotiation of gender relations within the family and wider society. Questions about the effectiveness of gender neutral policy and discourses in challenging gendered familial roles are similarly acknowledged by Åsa Lundqvist and Christine Roman in Chapter 4, where they illustrate the growing criticisms in Sweden of the focus on gender neutrality in equality policies during the 1970s. Such criticisms foregrounded the ways in which gender neutral policies and discourses had few positive outcomes for women’s lives and are useful reminders, today, of the ways in which policy can be complicit in eliding the inequalities constituted through the gendered roles by which individual family members are defined and in the gendered nature of power relations in the home and the workplace, particularly around responsibilities for child care. Where questions of gender equality intersect with those of race and ethnicity an even more complex picture emerges as the chapters in Part II demonstrate. Diana Mulinari explores how the idea of gender equality has been claimed as a particular Swedish value and, in turn, associated with other national values such as democracy and human rights. She suggests that minority ethnic populations are distanced from the so-called norms and attributes of Swedish culture while family lives of migrant women are constituted through discourses of patriarchal oppression. In Britain, Kaveri Harriss and Alison Shaw trace an assumption about

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gender equality within the benefits system, which expects that husbands and wives pool their resources. This, they argue, can be prejudicial for those women whose spouses or partners refuse to share such income and, in particular, for British Pakistani women whose family lives are experienced through an economic system predicated on ‘togetherness’. As a result some women have little individuated access to family resources and policy reinforces thereby ‘traditional’ imbalances of gendered power. And while Denmark might be popularly understood to have achieved a good degree of gender equality in employment terms for the majority of its population, Birte Siim and Anette Borchorst argue in Chapter 7 that there has been a political determination in recent years to force migrant women into the labour market through the reduction of benefits. In this context migrant traditions around employment, care and family life are perceived to be in conflict with Danish norms and ideals of gender equality with the result that integration of migrant women through the labour market has become a punitive process. The maintenance of gender equality as an ideal for family policy in Denmark is thus shown to be achieved through the constitution of other social, cultural and racial inequalities and through discriminatory discourses, policies and practices. Multiculturalism, Migration and Family Policy These questions of inequality, discrimination and exclusion are taken up as a particular focus in Part II of the book. Through their analysis of the power of the normative family in policy making, the chapters here point to the effects of such norms for the constitution of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship as well as for families who are diverse in structure and composition and whose relationships are understood and experienced through multiple dynamics of differentiation and belonging (Williams 1995). The chapters are concerned, therefore, with the intersections of gender, race and family lives and the different ways in which Danish, Swedish and British legislation and policy have been used to regulate not only immigration but also the lives of migrant and transmigrant families. As Calloni and Lutz (2000) observe, migration movements have a long history in Europe but they dominated political debates in very particular ways in the postwar years and migrants significantly contributed ‘to the modernization and prosperity of the Western and Northern European countries, many of which were thereby enabled to develop their welfare state system’ (Calloni and Lutz 2000: 154). To meet the peacetime demands of economic growth, large numbers of workers were recruited from the colonies and former colonies of Britain (but see Miles 1993) while Sweden encouraged ‘labour force immigration’, mainly from Finland, Italy, Yugoslavia, and Greece (Ginsburg 2001, Peterson 1999). By the 1960s, many workers had settled permanently, formed new families or were reunited with existing family members, however as each chapter demonstrates, the presence of these families is often only tolerated and usually in ways that


emphasize their difference, their subordination and their status as minority groups (Rosello 2001). Questions of difference and subordination are thus common threads that run through Part II as a whole. They highlight the widespread political assumptions that family members should organize and understand their responsibilities to each other and the state through shared (national) values and attitudes. This means that, as Chapter 8 demonstrates, migrant families’ encounters with welfare can sometimes be adversely shaped by discriminatory and contradictory views about their family lives and relationships. An understanding by midwives that migrant families provide much needed support to pregnant women but, simultaneously, are too involved and protective points one of the reasons why subordinated groups, with family practices that are considered different from the norm, can have an ambivalent relationship with health professionals and welfare practices. As Chapter 6 records through the experiences of British Pakistani families, this determination to mark difference can range from the most formal statements of nationality and entitlement in legislation to the everyday practices of welfare agencies. So, for instance, the size of British Pakistani families means that they are disadvantaged by a benefits system which does not increase income incrementally for each extra child since large families are not considered to be the norm in Britain. At the same time, and following the arguments in Chapter 7, policies to integrate migrant families through the labour market can result in marginalizing or assimilating migrant women to the dominant gender, cultural and family values of the state. Policies and practices based on a normative family model have, therefore, profound consequences for some family formations and can produce noticeable disparities between minority and majority families. Another example of these processes is taken up in Chapter 7 through an analysis of how forced and arranged marriages became a major subject of concern in Denmark during the 1990s. Identifying a discourse about the clash of cultures between the norms of Danish marital relations and a perceived tradition of forced and arranged marriages amongst some minority ethnic groups, Siim and Borchorst argue that this issue and its related discourse were used to simultaneously stigmatize the marriage practices of some migrant families and to uphold and idealize the practices of ethnic Danish families. Harriss and Shaw argue similarly in Chapter 6 that normative views about the marital relationship have been influential in Britain with the result that marriage migration is intensely regulated because it is assumed to be motivated either by economic migration or by the migration of spouses from arranged marriages. As these examples demonstrate welfare systems are often insensitive to family structures and practices that differ from normative constructions of family life and fail to recognize the extent to which many migrant families are dependent upon the welfare state as a vehicle for their social inclusion (Klausen and Tilley 1997).


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Conclusion Using different periods through the 20th and early 21st centuries and different examples from policy and legislation, the chapters in this collection examine how welfare systems in Denmark, Sweden and Britain produce, reproduce or modify social inequalities that are commensurate with social divisions of gender, class, race and marital status. All consider the nature of the relationship between family and policy and seek to reveal the extent to which relationships between families, states and welfare systems are continually in a state of flux. They illustrate how the different national welfare systems of Denmark, Sweden and Britain articulate specific conceptions of family and, as importantly, suggest that the ideals of these conceptions have impacted upon the lived experiences of families, equally, across each of the three countries. At the same time the collection indicates how citizenship and access to welfare have been tightly bound up with questions of belonging (Castles and Davidson 2000), even though the conditions and meanings of being a citizen might have been constructed differently in the three countries. This association of citizenship with welfare provision is significant because, as Daly and Rake (2003) have written, ‘at least part of what it means to be a citizen is defined in rights of access to social services and public resources … [and] social citizenship establishes a counter-logic of exchange to that prevailing in the market’ (Daly and Rake 2003: 16–17). As a consequence, the authors argue for the importance of recognizing how experiences of citizenship are also located in the relationships and practices of family life and the ways in which these are supported, regulated and challenged through welfare benefits and provision. Such arguments foreground the difficulties of addressing the gendered, classed and racialized inequalities within and between families through contemporary policy reforms in which normative views on the family and its practices are not acknowledged or where their legacies are left unconsidered. The result is a collection that not only highlights the similarities and differences of family policies in Denmark, Sweden and Britain but also critically engages with their common effects upon the lives of families in both the past and the present. References Abrahamson, P., Boje, T.P. and Greve, B. 2005. Welfare and Families in Europe. Aldershot: Ashgate. Beck, U. 1992. Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity. London: Sage. Beck, U. and Beck-Gernsheim, E. 1995. The Normal Chaos of Love. Cambridge: Polity. Bernini, S. 2007. Family Life and Individual Welfare in Post-war Europe: Britain and Italy Compared. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.



Bock, G. and Thane, P. 1991. Maternity and Gender Politics: Women and the Rise of the European Welfare States, 1880s–1950s. New York: Routledge. Calloni, M. and Lutz, H. 2000. Gender, migration and social inequalities: the dilemmas of European citizenship, in Gender, Economy and Culture in the European Union, edited by S. Duncan and B. Pfau-Effinger. London: Routledge, 143–70. Castles, S. 2000. Ethnicity and Globalization. London: Sage. Castles, S. and Davidson, A. 2000. Citizenship and Migration: Globalization and the Politics of Belonging. London: Macmillan. Cheong, P.H., Edwards, R., Goulbourne, H. and Solomos, J. 2007. Immigration, social cohesion and social capital: a critical review. Critical Social Policy, 27(1), 24–49. Clarke, J. 2004. Changing Welfare, Changing States: New Directions in Social Policy. London: Sage. Clarke, J. and Fink, J. 2008. Unsettled attachments: national identity, citizenship and migration, in Culture and Welfare State: Values and Social Policy in Comparative Perspective, edited by W. Oorschot, M. Opielka and B. PfauEffinger. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 225–44. Daly, M. and Lewis, J. 2000. The concept of social care and the analysis of contemporary welfare states. British Journal of Sociology, 51(2), 281–98. Daly, M. and Rake, K. 2003. Gender and the Welfare State. Cambridge: Polity. Daly, M. 2000. The Gender Division of Welfare. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Davidoff, L., Doolittle, M., Fink, J. and Holden, K. 1999. The Family Story: Blood, Contract and Intimacy, 1830–1960. London: Longman. Dunkwu, P. 1993. Communities of resistance in Fortress Europe, in Invisible Europeans? Black People in the ‘New Europe’, edited by L. Back and A. Nayak. Birmingham: AFFOR, 129–36. Ellingsæter, A.-L. and Leira, A. (eds). 2006. Politicizing Parenthood in Scandinavia. Bristol: The Policy Press. Esping-Andersen, G., Gallie, D., Hemerijk, A. and Mykes, J. 2002. Why We Need a New Welfare State. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Fink, J., Lewis, G. and Clarke, J. (eds). 2001. Rethinking European Welfare. London: Sage. Fink, J. and Lundqvist, Å. (eds). 2009. Välfärd, Genus och Familj. Malmö: Liber. Giddens, A. 1992. The Transformation of Intimacy. Sexuality, Love and Eroticism in Modern Societies. Cambridge: Polity. Ginsburg, N. 2001. Sweden: the social democratic case, in Comparing Welfare States, edited by A. Cochrane, J. Clarke and S. Gewirtz. London: Sage, 195–222. Hantrais, L. (ed.). 2000. Gendered Policies in Europe: Reconciling Employment and Family Life. Basingstoke: Macmillan. Hantrais, L. and Letablier, M. 1996. Families and Family Policies in Europe. New York: Longman.


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Holden, K. 2007. The Shadow of Marriage: Singleness in England, 1914–60. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Home Office. 2005. Controlling our Borders: Making Migration Work for Britain. Five Year Strategy for Asylum and Immigration. London: HMSO. Kiernan, K., Land, H. and Lewis, J. 1998. Lone Motherhood in Twentieth-Century Britain. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Klausen, J. and Tilly, L.A. (eds). 1997. European Integration in Social and Historical Perspectives. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield. Koven, S. and Michel, S. 1993. Mothers of the New World: Maternalist Policies and the Origins of Welfare States. New York: Routledge. Kunzel, R. 1993. Fallen Women, Problem Girls and the Professionalization of Social Work, 1890–1945. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Leira, A. 2002. Working Parents and Welfare States: Family Change and Policy Reform in Scandinavia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Lewis, J. 1992. Gender and the development of welfare regimes. Journal of European Social Policy, 2(3), 159–73. Lewis, J. 1998. Gender, Social Care and Welfare State Restructuring in Europe. Aldershot: Ashgate. Mackinnon, A. 2006. Fantasizing the family: women, families and the quest for an individual self. Women’s History Review, 15(4), 663–75. Melby, K., Ravn, A.-B. and Carlsson-Wetterberg, C. 2008. Gender Equality in Scandinavia: Limits of Political Ambitions. Bristol: The Policy Press. Meyer, M.H. (ed.). 2000. Care Work: Gender, Labour and the Welfare State. London: Routledge. Miles, R. 1993. Racism after ‘Race Relations’. London: Routledge. Morgan, D.H.J. 1996. Family Connections. An Introduction to Family Studies. Cambridge: Polity. Morgan, K.J. 2006. Working Mothers and the Welfare State: Religion and the Politics of Work-Family Policies in Western Europe and the United States. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. Morissens, A. and Sainsbury, D. 2005. Migrants’ social rights, ethnicity and welfare regimes. Journal of Social Policy, 34(4), 637–60. Mulinari, D. 2008. Women friendly? Understanding gendered racism in Sweden, in Gender Equality in Scandinavia: Limits of Political Ambitions, edited by K. Melby, A.-B. Ravn and C. Carlsson-Wetterberg. Bristol: The Policy Press, 167–82. Orloff, A.S. 1993. Gender and the social rights of citizenship: the comparative analysis of gender relations and welfare states. American Sociological Review, 58(3), 303–28. Pedersen, S. 1993. Family, Dependency and the Origins of the Welfare State: Britain and France, 1914–1945. New York: Cambridge University Press. Peterson, M. 1999. The traumatic dismantling of welfare: the Swedish model in global culture, in Welfare and Culture in Europe: Towards a New Paradigm



in Social Policy, edited by P. Chamberlayne, A. Cooper, R. Freeman and M. Rustin. London and Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 43–62. Pfau-Effinger, B. and Geissler, B. (eds). 2005. Care and Integration in European Societies. Bristol: The Policy Press. Rosello, M. 2001. Postcolonial Hospitality: The Immigrant as Guest. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Sainsbury, D. 1996. Gender, Equality and Welfare States. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Sainsbury, D. (ed.). 1999. Gender and Welfare State Regimes. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Schierup, C.-U., Hansen, P. and Castles, S. 2006. Migration, Citizenship and the European Welfare State. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Siim, B. and Squires, J. 2008. Contesting Citizenship. London: Routledge. Silva, E. and Smart, C. (eds). 1999. The New Family? London: Sage. Williams, F. 1995. Race/ethnicity, gender and class in welfare states: a framework for comparative analysis. Social Politics, 2(2), 127–59. Williams, F. 2005. Rethinking Families. London: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

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Part I Family, Gender Relations and the Welfare State

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Chapter 2

Overshadowed by the Male Breadwinner: Care in 20th Century Britain Hilary Land

Introduction In Britain at the beginning of the 20th century, inequalities between men and women were the subject of many public debates. These debates encompassed the position of women within the home and family as well as in paid employment and civil society. Women had yet to win the right to vote in national elections although they had recently become eligible to vote and stand for election in local government. Poverty and malnutrition, particularly among women and children, had become more visible. The pioneering social surveys of Charles Booth (1897) and Seebohm Rowntree (1903) showed poverty was more widespread than previously supposed. Infant mortality rates were high and those who survived beyond their first birthday were often sickly. Compulsory elementary education from the age of five years, which had been introduced in 1870, continued to expose the extent of ill-health and disability among young children. The high rejection rates of Army recruits on the grounds of poor physique were also evidence of the poor state of the ‘Imperial race’. School meals, which from 1906 could be subsidized by local government, were introduced in some areas and proposals that mothers should be educated in order to feed and look after their children better and men should be paid a ‘family wage’ so their wives could stay at home, were under serious discussion across the political spectrum (Davin 1978). The question of what the wage was for – the maintenance of an individual worker or a family – was also brought more sharply into focus by minimum wage legislation, introduced in 1909 when Trade Boards were established to regulate pay and hours of work in selected occupations. The argument that men, unlike women, had dependants to support and therefore needed a higher wage was used by opponents to growing feminist demands for equal pay. In reply the Women’s Industrial Council estimated that many women (between a third and a half) had dependants and one in eight adult women was a widow (Hutchins 1911). Proposals for allowances for widowed mothers so they could stay at home to look after their children (for example the Minority Report of the Royal Commission on the Poor Laws and the Relief of Distress 1909)  A Royal Commission in Britain is a committee appointed by the government of the day to investigate a social problem and make policy recommendations. The membership


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attracted support but it was not until the end of the First World War that more radical schemes to endow motherhood and pay allowances for all children were discussed beyond left wing and feminist circles. These schemes also raised the question of whether or not mothers should stay at home full time while their children were young for some schemes included an allowance for the mother. In the event, contributory widows’ pensions were introduced in 1925, while a national scheme of family allowances had to wait until 1945. (Neither scheme required mothers to stay at home full time.) The Married Women’s Property Acts passed between 1876 and 1884 had given married women control over their own property and income. Income included their earnings, which was of particular importance to working class women. Meanwhile, irrespective of their husband’s views (men had the right to refuse their wives permission to take paid employment), middle-class women were being excluded from the labour market by the introduction of nation-wide marriage bars at the turn of the century. These bars gave their employers the right to require them on marriage to resign from teaching, the civil service and many other professions. They remained in place until the mid-1940s. These policy issues divided not only feminists, trades unionists, social reformers and politicians of every political persuasion in the early 1900s, but also reflected a more widespread confusion within British society about the roles of men and women, the future of which, Jose Harris explains in her social history of Britain between 1870–1914, was ‘increasingly contested and uncertain’ (Harris 1993: 31). This is not surprising because the issues involved touch on fundamental economic and social systems in society and are complex and contentious. As Mabel Atkins (1914) a member of the Fabian Women’s Group wrote: … the problem before the future is to secure for women freedom and independence, the right to control their own destinies, and yet to make it possible for the same women to be wives and mothers. The solution of this problem will not be easy. It cannot be attained … neither by feminists of the more old fashioned sort, on the one hand, who simply demand for women the same rights as men possess, ignoring all the inevitable differences of sex; nor is drawn from experts and distinguished people from across the political spectrum. It receives oral and written evidence and presents its Report to the appropriate Minister(s). Its recommendations are not binding on the government and may not even be debated in Parliament. (A previous Chancellor of the Exchequer (Dennis Healey) described such Commissions as chickens sitting on nests of china eggs.) However, they reflect and influence informed opinion about the nature of a social problem and on acceptable policy solutions. Their influence is therefore indirect rather than direct. Their papers are a valuable source for social historians and they have been used in the preparation of this chapter, together with contemporary and historical accounts.  The Fabian Society, established in 1884, is a broadly socialist pressure group, believing in changing society by means of reform rather than revolution. Its pamphlets, which addressed economic and social problems, were widely read, particularly in the early decades of the 20th century.

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on the other hand, by those who believe that sex is the only characteristic of women that matters, and disregard in her the human nature that she shares with man. Neither independence alone nor protection alone will meet the case (Atkins 1914: 20).

This chapter will examine the model of the family which had at its core the ‘independent’ male breadwinner and the ‘dependent’ wife and mother, focussing in particular, on how upon marriage women were allocated the care of children and any other dependent relatives needing care as well as the provision of services for their able-bodied husbands. Marriage was a very clear contract: in return for care, sexual and domestic services a married man had to maintain his wife (at a standard determined by him) provided she remained sexually faithful. This model was embedded in many economic and social policies of 20th-century Britain. In the post-Second World War British welfare state the male breadwinner continued to be heavily subsidized in the tax system and was privileged in the social security system. In contrast to universal health and education services, childcare and social care for elderly people remained residual services for those who were poor and without families – or at least ‘normal’ families. Only in the last decade of the 20th century did the care of children and to a lesser extent older people move more firmly into the public world and the cash nexus. In other words, throughout most of the 20th century care remained the responsibility of women within the family as mothers, daughters, sisters and above all, as wives. In order to understand why social policies developed in Britain very differently in some important respects from those in Scandinavian countries, the broader economic and political contexts within which economic and social theories of the time adopted a male breadwinner model of the family, rendering women’s work and care within the home invisible and taken-for-granted, will be briefly summarized. Second, the ways in which the male breadwinner-full-time housewife model shaped social security, personal taxation and social care and childcare policies and the gender contract within them, throughout most of the 20th century will be described. Finally the legacy this has left at the beginning of the 21st century for those still concerned to reduce inequalities between men and women in general and in particular to value care more highly, will be discussed. The Rise of the Male Breadwinner in Practice and in Theory In Britain, particularly in the latter half of the 19th century, waged work increased with the decline in agriculture, which was accompanied by a huge growth in manufacturing and rapid urbanization. This did not occur evenly in time or place over the country, and the following brief overview inevitably greatly oversimplifies   Until 1978, a single act of sexual infidelity by his wife absolved a man of this responsibility. He continued to be responsible for the maintenance of his children.


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and smoothes out local variation, complexity and contradiction. Nevertheless it is clear that Britain had become an industrial society which was distinguished by ‘the magnitude of the group dependent on wages, compared with those which are interested in the ownership of property and the direction of economic enterprise’ (Tawney 1964: 65). Moreover, ‘the agricultural system itself, with its dependence on large numbers of landless agricultural labourers, approaches more closely to the industrial pattern than is the case in most other communities’ (Tawney 1964: 67). Despite the difficulties, discussed more fully below, in comparing working populations over time and between countries (Higgs 1987), these patterns of employment, different from much of urban and rural continental Europe as well as Scandinavia, show that by the end of the 19th century, the majority of Britain’s visible working population was comprised of wage-earners. These differences between countries continued, particularly for men, into the 20th century. In Britain, the 1911 census returns showed that over three quarters of men in the labour market were wage earners. By 1931 this had increased to five out of six. In contrast, Alva Myrdal (1945) used the Swedish 1930 census to identify that independent, non-salaried income earners in Sweden accounted for one in three of men who were active earners. She therefore concluded that: … the family wage system as a solution of the problem of child maintenance is wholly inadequate … It only solves the problem, in so far as it suffices even there, of family maintenance for a limited proportion of the families, that is for the families with incomes in the form of wages … The family problems of the small businessman, the farmer, and the independent craftsmen are just as important as those of the laborer, the office employee, and the civil servant. The relative weight of the various groups may be different in different countries (Myrdal 1945: 138).

It is therefore not surprising that the concept of the ‘family wage’ had more salience in Britain. The differences in the extent to which the male breadwinner model underpinned wages and social policies in Western and Northern Europe were still visible at the end of the 20th century (Lewis 1992). Men’s responsibilities for the maintenance of their families were emphasized in many ways. Factory Acts in the earlier part of the 19th century had placed limitations on the working hours and conditions of employment of children. These were later extended to women ‘on the grounds of protecting the mothers of the future’ (Knowles 1921: 152). The Factory and Workshops Act 1901 consolidated the protective legislation of previous Factory Acts. As a result, restrictions on women working at night continued and their employment in factories was prohibited within a month of confinement and for a month afterwards. Men on the other hand protected themselves by forming trade unions in order to improve their pay and conditions. Thus ‘… the Factory Acts envisaged women and children, while the trade unions have helped to protect men. The unions were the masculine side of the Factory Acts …’ (Knowles 1921: 152).

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The scope and powers of the trade unions were increased significantly from the early 1870s. Within the trade union movement there were those who adopted the ideal of the ‘family wage’, supported protective legislation for women and used both to bargain for higher wages for men. While some used the family wage argument only strategically, others clearly supported it in principle as well as practice. When in 1909, a resolution to ban married women from employment outside the home altogether was put forward to the annual conferences of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and to the newly formed Labour Party it was withdrawn from the former but only lost in the latter after a very heated debate (Land 1980). Women as well as men were divided on the question. Given the sheer drudgery of housework in insanitary, overcrowded and ill-equipped rooms combined with the necessity of earning money to supplement their husband’s inadequate, uncertain wages usually under exploitative conditions (Ross 1993, Roberts 1984, Black 1907), some saw this as a way of ending their burdensome ‘double shift’. For these and other reasons, the male breadwinner–dependent housewife model was not one simply imposed from above (Bourke 1998). Moreover, it persisted well into the 20th century. The image of the male breadwinner supporting his wife and children, for example, can be found in the TUC’s ambivalence towards the acceptance of the principle of equal pay beyond the public service sector after the Second World War (Royal Commission on Equal Pay 1946). It also lingered in the later debates in the reform of allowances for children in the 1970s, 1980s and again in the late 1990s when the question of which parent should receive the allowance or tax credit surfaced again. The life of the wives and daughters of professional and business men (Davidoff 1995) as well as of farmers had also changed in the 19th century. Commercial and professional activities were increasingly conducted away from home so women’s opportunities to act as partners, (albeit subordinate in law) in their husband’s or father’s enterprises and professions, diminished (Davidoff 1995, Davidoff and Hall 1987). As a result, ‘women seem to have dropped the slender guiding reins they once held in matters economic’ (Hutchins 1911: 24). Moreover, for women to follow their men-folk into employment outside the home would have diminished the status and dignity of their fathers, brothers and husbands. By the middle of the 19th century, the ‘idle’ wife and daughter had become a symbol of prosperity in both town and country. The daughters of the middle class subsequently achieved entry to education and training for the professions (Dyhouse 1989), but as Veblen wrote at the end of the century, the middle-class wife had become the ‘chief menial’ of the household, organizing its consumption in ways which signaled its members’ status to the outside world (Veblen 1899, 1970: 128). She remained dependent upon her husband. Some feminists described her as ‘a parasite’ (Strachey 1978, Atkins 1914). Others deplored the narrow outlook which full-time housewifery fostered in middle-class women (Holtby 1935, West 1913). On the other hand, as both contemporary and subsequent historical accounts reveal, some were far from idle in the wider society (Hollis 1987). Although dependent upon domestic servants in the home, they were involving themselves in activities which, after the


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Second World War, would become paid jobs in the formal labour market in general and in the welfare state in particular. Helen Bosanquet, the wife of Bernard Bosanquet, an Idealist philosopher who shared her interest in poverty, social reform and social work, was a leading member of the Charities Organization Society. She was a member of the Royal Commission on the Poor Laws and Relief of Distress, writing large sections of the Majority Report (Lewis 1991). Bosanquet took a more positive view of the economic contribution that a woman’s management of the family budget made to the economy as well as to the individual family, noting ‘in determining the distribution of the family income she is also performing a national function, for by laying down the lines of consumption she is also laying down the lines of production and directing industrial and commercial enterprise’ (Bosanquet 1906, 1915: 280). A Conservative feminist, Bosanquet supported the education and training of women and supported women’s suffrage before Beatrice Webb, who wrote much of the Poor Law Commission’s Minority Report. However, she disagreed with Eleanor Rathbone about the need for family allowances, endorsed the male breadwinner model of the family and was very clear that irrespective of class, a mother’s duties lay in the home. She wrote: With respect to the proper position and function of the woman in the Family there is general agreement up to a certain point. If the husband is the head of the Family, the wife is the centre. It is she who is primarily responsible for the care of the children: to the utmost extent of which the family means will allow, it is her duty to see that they are well cared for, both physically and morally: and it is generally agreed that this duty can only be properly fulfilled by personal attention … The wealthy mother who hands over her children to the care of nurses and governesses, however highly she may pay these, without constant and adequate supervision, fails just as reprehensibly of her duty as the poorer mother whose carelessness or ignorance leaves them wholly neglected. It is a duty which cannot be delegated (Bosanquet 1906, 1915: 279).

She was just as clear about a husband’s responsibilities: Nothing but the combined rights and responsibilities of family life will ever rouse the average man to his full degree of efficiency, and induce him to continue working after he has earned sufficient to meet his own personal needs … The Family in short is from this point of view the only known way of ensuring with any approach to success, that one generation will exert itself in the interests and for the sake of another (Bosanquet 1906, 1915: 222).

In other words, this model of marriage and the family had a clear public purpose in all social classes, sustaining male work incentives, providing for the next generation as well as buttressing married women’s duties to put the needs of children and their husbands first (Lewis 2001a).

Overshadowed by the Male Breadwinner


The Invisibility of Care and Women’s Work in Economics William Beveridge, an economist with an active interest in social and economic reform long before he produced the government report (Beveridge 1942), which created the framework for the British social security system after the Second World War, wrote: Society is built upon labour: it lays upon its members responsibilities which in the vast majority of cases can be met only from the reward of labour. ... its ideal unit is the household of man, wife and children maintained by the earnings of the first alone … The wife so long as she is bearing and bringing up children, should have no other task – but how, if the husband’s earnings fail and she has to go to work? Everywhere the same difficulty recurs. Reasonable security of employment for the breadwinner is the basis of all private duties and all sound social action (Beveridge 1909, 1930: 1).

Later, in the mid-1920s, Eleanor Rathbone convinced him of the need for universal family allowances and henceforth he believed ‘the theory of a living wage based on an average family is the greatest statistical fallacy of this or any age’ (Family Endowment Society 1927: 4). However, he did not change his mind about the centrality of the male breadwinner model described above. In his plan for social security, Beveridge made clear that housewives would be treated as ‘a distinct insurance class’ who upon marriage undertook ‘to perform vital unpaid service’ (Beveridge 1942: 53). A married woman was expected to rely on her husbands’ earnings and contributions for a (lower) pension when he retired. The minority of married women in paid employment (he assumed one in eight) who chose to contribute in their own right would receive lower benefits than their brothers or single sisters when sick or unemployed. Maternity benefit however was to be paid at a higher rate. As Beveridge, fearful of a falling birth rate, explained ‘In the next thirty years housewives as mothers have vital work to do in ensuring the adequate continuance of the British race and of British ideals in the world’ (Beveridge 1942: 53). Widowed mothers remained within the social insurance system and for the first time divorced, separated and never married mothers could claim means-tested assistance without being required to register for employment. In the early 1960s this requirement was also dropped for single women caring for an adult dependant (Beveridge’s ‘domestic spinsters’) and for lone fathers ten years later. Cohabitation with a man however, continued to extinguish a woman’s claim to means tested assistance until changes were made in the 1980s to bring the social assistance scheme into line with the European Council’s (EC) 1978 Equal Treatment directive. Couples can now decide who is the main breadwinner and the benefit will be paid to that person, provided the couple’s income is below a certain threshold. In practice most couples chose the man to be the claimant.


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The male breadwinner model was thoroughly embedded in the work of Alfred Marshall, a leading neo-classical economist, who was a major influence in the development of his academic discipline. Acknowledging that poverty compelled many mothers to seek paid work outside the home, he focussed less on their poverty and more on their behaviour and the deleterious effect it had on their children’s health and welfare: ‘If we compare one country of the civilized world with another, or one part of England with another, we find that the degradation of the working classes varies almost uniformly with the amount of rough work done by women’ (Marshall 1901: 113). High mortality rates among the infants of the poor were not so much due to their fathers’ inadequate wages but due to their mothers’ ‘want of care and judgement in preparing their food’ (Marshall 1901: 113). The solution was to appeal to mothers’ instincts and duties: The most valuable of all capital is that invested in human beings; and of that capital the most precious part is the result of the care and influence of the mother, so long as she retains her tender and unselfish instincts, and has not been hardened by the stress and strain of unfeminine work (Marshall 1901: 271).

He argued against an increase in wages for women in general and against equal pay in particular, explaining that it would be ‘a great gain in so far as it tends to develop their faculties; but an injury in so far as it tempts them to neglect their duty of building a true home and of investing their efforts in the Personal capital of their children’s character and abilities (Marshall 1901: 342). Marshall’s assumptions about the division of responsibilities within the family were perpetuated well into the 20th century by his students, many of whom became both leading economists (Pujol 2003) and policy advisers. For example, Arthur Pigou had a direct impact on policy through his membership of the first Royal Commission on the Income Tax in 1920, which endorsed the extension of the married man’s tax allowance, discussed below. He believed that ‘other things equal, the factory work of mothers is injurious’ (Pigou 1920, 1962: 187, original emphasis). Moreover he was very clear that children needed the care of their own mothers: The suggestion that the injurious consequences of the factory work of mothers can be done away with, if the factory worker gets some unmarried woman to look after her home in factory hours is mistaken, because it ignores the fact that

  Marshall did not have children, but his wife Mary Paley, was one of the first women to read economics at Newnham College Cambridge. He wrote The Economics of Industry with her and it was published in both their names in 1879. She never had paid employment but she continued to help him with his academic work, although declined joint authorship of his subsequent books (Marshall 1901, preface viii).

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a woman’s work has a special personal value in respect of her own children (Pigou 1920, 1967: 188, f/n 1).

Pigou’s views were shared with many other social reformers such as Bosanquet discussed above. Moreover, even those who, like Eleanor Rathbone (1924), were not opposed to mothers working outside the home were suspicious of collective care for children. This may partly explain why the theories of maternal deprivation of the psychologist and childcare expert, John Bowlby, outlined in his book Child Care and the Growth of Love (1953) were so influential in Britain. Between the 1950s and 1980s, these theories were used to legitimate official policies based on the belief that young children needed to be cared for at home full-time by their mother who was ‘not free, or should not be free to take employment’ (Bowlby 1953: 85). When the children were in school aged five, they could work part-time. Lone mothers, on the other hand could be expected to work full-time, placing their children in a day nursery once they were three years old (Bowlby 1953: 91). By and large, if alternative care was needed the closer it resembled family care the better. It was also a lot cheaper (DHSS 1976). Free part-time nursery education for three and four year olds increased from the 1970s and now over 90 per cent of these age groups use it. However, care for pre-school children was and still is treated differently. Full-time day nursery provision stalled until the late 1990s, when the New Labour government introduced a child care strategy which provided support for working parents needing childcare by means of the tax credit system. Over 90 per cent of day nursery provision is found in the private-for profit sector and parents offset the tax credit against the fees. Debates over the interpretation of statistics concerning infant mortality and children’s malnutrition continued throughout the 1920s and 1930s. While there is no doubt that a mother’s ability to manage money could make a difference to her family’s standard of living and sometimes to its very survival (Ross 1993) blaming mothers’ behaviour was (and remains) easier than confronting the causes and consequences of structural unemployment, poverty and inequality. However a much more serious consequence of focussing solely on mothers’ behaviour is that these debates redefined married women’s employment as a moral rather than an economic question (Davidoff 1995). This was reinforced and justified by the development of economic theories and concepts which rendered women’s work and care invisible in the home for they did not belong in the market place. As Pigou explained in a series of introductory lectures in economics given towards the end of his career, ‘money income represents real income’ which is described ‘broadly’ as ‘the net inflow of goods and services becoming available per income period’. However: By convention we do not reckon as real income the whole of this net flow, but only a part of it – only that part of it which is paid for with money or is easily represented in money terms. We exclude the flow of services rendered


Changing Relations of Welfare gratuitously to one another by members of the same family or by friends (Pigou 1946: 7).

This separation of the ‘real’ economy from the ‘family’ economy had also been facilitated by changes in census definitions at the end of the 19th century. Early in his career, Marshall advised the Treasury and those responsible for developing and collecting government statistics. The centrality of marriage in defining a family and household was already embedded in census definitions. As the 1871 census commentary stated: ‘The natural family is founded by marriage, and consists, in its complete state, of husband, wife and children’ (cited by Harris 1993). This definition of a family, co-resident in a single household, persisted into the 20th century and tidied away messier family forms and relationships which spilled across households. For example, the census ‘hid’ unmarried mothers if they were living with their parent(s) because they and their children counted as children of their parent(s) and therefore comprised a single family. The Finer Committee set up to investigate the circumstances of one parent families in Britain in the early 1970s found that as a result, the official figures under-estimated their actual numbers by half (Committee on One Parent Families 1974). The changes Marshall was instrumental in making, together with Charles Booth (who was opposed to equal pay and women’s suffrage), revised census definitions of ‘occupation’ and ‘productive activities’. These revisions were also long-lasting, reducing the visibility of women’s work in general and of married women in particular (Waring 1989, Higgs 1987). From 1881 the census no longer included the full-time housewife among the economically productive. Instead they were placed in a residual ‘unoccupied’ category. Previous censuses had recognized that they could be involved in outwork and numerous productive activities as well as providing or exchanging services such as taking in washing, lodgers, boarders and so on, for which they might be paid in cash or in kind. There was, and is, much evidence that these activities had not declined and were still crucial to a family’s survival. (See for example, Ross 1993, Hutchins 1911, Black 1907.) From 1891, women active in a family business such as, for instance, farming and shop-keeping were also removed and placed in a ‘domestic’ category. Male relatives in these households however, continued to be counted among the economically productive. The exclusion of these categories of women from the economically productive in the national census did not happen if at all, in most other Northern and Western European countries until well after the Second World War. Social Security and Tax Systems Fears of the consequences of the changes in, or even breakdown of some of the old hierarchical relationships found in rural and urban communities for centuries are reflected in the 1834 Poor Law reforms, which were to underpin the English system of poor relief for the rest of the century and beyond. The reforms were

Overshadowed by the Male Breadwinner


concerned in particular to sustain the working incentives of able-bodied men. The poor were only offered assistance in the workhouse at a level below that of the poorest independent labourer (the principle of lesser eligibility). All recipients of public assistance were stigmatized and lost rights associated with citizenship, including the right to vote, which after the 1860s had been extended to many working-class men. At the same time the reforms made it more difficult for mothers to claim support from the father of their children unless they were married to him (Thane 1978, Finer and MacGregor 1974). Under the Poor Law the able-bodied were responsible for the maintenance of their parents and grandparents as well as their children and grandchildren. This remained the position until 1948 when the National Assistance Act removed obligations between adults and their grandchildren or grandparents (see also Chapter 5). Married or cohabiting women had no independent right to claim assistance then or now. A stigmatizing means-tested social assistance system survived into the 20th century, although recipients ceased to lose civil rights. The hated household means test of the 1930s which forced unemployed fathers to be dependent on their co-resident wage earning sons, or worse, daughters was abolished in 1940. Beveridge kept a means tested national assistance system as a ‘safety net’ to his contributory social insurance scheme. A man who refused employment in order to support his wife and children could still be sent to prison and every year a few hundred were imprisoned for this reason. Only exceptionally could benefits be paid either in whole or in part directly to a claimant’s wife. This contrasts with benefits claimed by men over pension age. When means-tested non contributory state pensions for those over 70 years were introduced in 1908, men and women were entitled to the same pension (five shillings each) irrespective of their marital status. The payment of the wife’s pension directly to her was not an issue. This was partly because the majority of those entitled were women, many of them single or widowed (Macnicol 1998: 162). There was no need to take into account male work incentives, for these older men were no longer in paid work. The debate focused more on how the pension would affect the incentives of adult children to support and care for their elderly parents. When contributory state pensions were introduced in 1925, wives could be paid directly their (lower) share of the pension even when it arose from their husband’s contributions and this practice, which was carried over in the Beveridge reforms with little debate, continues today. The treatment of a married woman of working age was different: she was a dependant of her husband and he should receive any dependant’s allowances on her behalf. The British national insurance system, until the reforms of the late 1970s, was based firmly on the assumption that only a man’s or single woman’s earnings needed to be replaced in sickness or unemployment. In the early years of the scheme before the First World War, only male occupations were included in the unemployment benefit scheme. However, the sickness benefit scheme had a broader coverage. Despite the views of the senior civil servant responsible for devising the scheme, namely that married women were not ‘… an insurable risk.


Changing Relations of Welfare

They want insurance for others, not themselves’ (Braithwaite 1957: 245), married women were included among the contributors. The consequences of including them were alarming and within months of the introduction of the scheme the government had set up a committee of enquiry to examine the ‘excessive’ claims from married women. At best it was thought their claims were false due to ignorance, at worst they were fraudulent. In fact they reflected the poor health of working-class women (Women’s Co-operative Guild 1917). The resulting controversies reveal the strength of the male breadwinner–dependent caring housewife model. First, the married woman’s sickness benefit initially was paid to the husband, even though she had paid the necessary contributions. It took two years of campaigning by the Women’s Co-operative Guild and other women’s groups to get the benefit paid directly to her. The argument against doing so was that it was insulting to question her husband’s willingness to support her and payments made directly to her by the state might undermine his incentive to do so. Similar arguments were later used against paying family allowances to mothers (Land 1975). Second, the test of genuine sickness was not whether or not she was too ill to do her usual paid job but whether or not she could still do the housework or childcare. For example, she was allowed to do ‘light’ housework so she could feed but not bathe a baby because that was ‘heavy’ housework (see Land 1986). Third, if an insured woman married a ‘foreigner’, she lost all entitlement to benefits: it was assumed she would – and should – adopt her husband’s domicile. The capacity or willingness to do the housework remained the ultimate test of whether or not a woman was genuinely ill, incapacitated or unemployed. In the 1930s, single unemployed women were disqualified from unemployment benefit if they refused the offer of residential domestic service. Married women were disqualified if they refused the offer of daily domestic service. In the 1970s, when a non-contributory disability benefit was introduced, the test for the married or cohabiting woman was whether or not she could perform her ‘normal domestic duties’. The current system of support in the social security system for those with a disability or long-term illness no longer explicitly discriminates against women but in practice it is biased against women and carers, in part because of gender differences in the incidence of diseases and employment histories. Men’s experiences are still taken as the norm (Deacon et al. 2007). The Invalid Care Allowance (ICA) was introduced in 1976 for men and women who gave up paid employment in order to care for a chronically ill or disabled relative needing constant attention (later extended to include non-relatives). Married, cohabiting or women receiving maintenance from a divorced or separated husband were ineligible to apply on the grounds that they would be at home anyway and they could rely on their husband for maintenance. It was not until the case was challenged ten years later in the European Court under the 1978 Equal Treatment Directive that entitlement was extended to married women. The numbers claiming  This was replaced by a Severe Disability Allowance which in turn has been replaced for some by Incapacity Benefit.

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ICA, now Carers Allowance (CA), increased ten-fold. Neither the amount of the allowance nor the threshold has been regularly up-rated. Despite recent increases in both, at £48.65 weekly in 2007–08 it remains the lowest earnings replacement benefit in the social security system. Income Tax By the beginning of the 20th century in Britain it was clear that birth rates were falling, particularly in the higher and skilled professions. The age of marriage had risen, more marriages were childless and a growing proportion of young adults were not marrying at all. Feminists pointed out that there was a surplus of women, especially in urban areas, partly because of differential mortality and migration rates, mainly to the Empire. Between 1870 and 1914, for example, over six million Britons emigrated, three quarters of them men (Harris 1993: 43). Marshall explained that the earnings of men in middle-class occupations peaked much later than those of manual workers. Therefore it was entirely rational for working-class men to marry and have children while young and their earnings still rising and for middle-class men to start their families later and have fewer children (Marshall 1901: 117). These differential birth rates between the social classes were seen as ‘a source of great danger’ (Marshall 1901: 117) especially by those who believed that the middle and upper classes were genetically superior to the working class. Some even argued that if trends continued the average intelligence of the British population would decline. Nobody either then or now fully understood or agreed about what determined these demographic changes (Szreter 1996, Harris 1993), but they did draw attention to the need for government to consider policies which could have an impact on marriage and family life in all income groups. When Lloyd George, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, reformed the income tax system in 1909, replacing a tax proportional to income with one consisting of bands of increasing tax rates, he argued that the responsibility for the maintenance of children reduced a man’s ‘taxable capacity’. At this time the tax threshold was well above the average working man’s earnings so income tax only affected the middle and higher income groups. He therefore introduced a tax allowance for each child of those men ‘whose earnings just bring them within the clutches of the income tax collector … when they have a family dependent upon them, the obligation to keep up the appearances of respectability of all their dependants is very trying’ (House of Commons Debates 1909: Vol. 4, col. 508). Ten years later, married men became entitled to an allowance in respect of their wives. It was held that a wife also reduced a man’s taxable capacity. Husbands as well as fathers needed an additional allowance. It was set at the same level as the child’s allowance. Following the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Income Tax in 1920, both the married man’s and the child tax allowances could be offset against the taxable income of all taxpayers however wealthy. The economic historian and feminist, Lilian Knowles, together with Walter J. Clarke, an expert


Changing Relations of Welfare

on living standards, were the only members of the Commission to oppose these ‘hidden bounties’ recommending instead cash benefits for all children. In their Reservation to the Commission’s Report they explained: ‘The bounty should be given in the case of children, but should be given where it can be seen, where it can be estimated directly and in a form in which people realize what they are getting (Report of Royal Commission on Income Tax, Reservations to Part IV 1920: 151). It took nearly 60 years for these ‘hidden bounties’ to be abolished, when in 1978 child tax allowances (which increased fathers’ take home pay) and family allowances (paid to mothers in cash) were abolished and replaced by a tax-free child benefit in cash for every child, paid to the mother irrespective of her marital, employment or household status. This transfer from ‘the wallet to the purse’ was hotly debated within the TUC as well as in parliament. Having failed to prevent this transfer, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Dennis Healey, increased the married man’s tax allowance the following year from 140 per cent of the single person’s allowance to 157 per cent to compensate them (Land 1977). The needs of the widower with or without children were not ignored. From 1919 he could claim a housekeeper allowance if he was maintaining a female relative who was resident with him and providing him with domestic services. Initially it was set at the same level as the married man’s allowance but it fell in value because it was not up-rated regularly. During the Second World War the requirement that the housekeeper was a relative was dropped but she still had to be female. In the early 1960s a non-residential housekeeper’s allowance was introduced which an employed lone father or mother could claim. So too could a man with a disabled wife. It was not available with respect to the earnings of a wife with a disabled husband, because his disability did not prevent her from carrying out her primary duty which was to care for him. In the mid-1970s, following the recommendations of the Finer Committee, this allowance was increased to the level of the married man’s allowance in order to support single women and men who were struggling to combine employment and care for children ‘single handed’. By 1980 half of all lone parents were benefiting from this allowance which was costing £150 million in foregone revenue (Kiernan et al. 1998: 179). It was not until 1990 when independent taxation was introduced that a married woman ceased to be a dependent person as far as the tax authorities were concerned. (Despite the Married Women’s Property Acts, a married woman’s income was always aggregated with that of her husband and deemed to belong to him. He was responsible for paying tax on it.) By then the majority of women were in paid employment most of their married lives. Their husbands were tax payers for tax thresholds had fallen during the Second World War so that the average workingclass man had become a tax payer. They fell even further in the post-war years and by the late 1960s the tax and benefit systems had collided, hence the growth in interest in tax credit systems at this time. (See for example, Cmnd 511: Green Paper Proposals for a Tax Credit System 1973.)

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By the mid-1980s the cost to the Exchequer in forgone revenue of the married man’s tax allowance was comparable to the total cost of cash benefits for the maintenance of children: £4.4 billion. This can be seen as a very crude and indirect subsidy of the care and domestic services provided by married women and far outweighed the cost of direct support to mothers and carers, despite the increases in the numbers of lone mothers and the proportion dependent on means-tested benefits. The cost of supporting lone mothers on means tested assistance had risen to nearly £2 billion by 1985. In addition, in the year 1985–86 £13 million was spent on the ICA, £25 million on maternity pay and £164 million on maternity allowances in the social insurance system (Kiernan et al. 1998). In addition, there was an Attendance Allowance paid directly to those needing constant care. This could be used to pay carers including co-resident relatives. Expenditure on this in 1985–86 was £686 million. The resistance to the introduction of independent taxation was considerable (Kiernan et al. 1998) and even after its introduction it was another ten years before the subsidy to husbands (renamed the married couple’s allowance) was finally abolished in 2000 for those of working age. Meanwhile the working tax credit system was introduced in 2003 to target support on poorer working families. At the same time child tax credit was introduced. Benefits for adults are paid to the claimant but child tax credits are paid to the main carer, so poorer mother’s incomes have improved even when she is out of the labour market and living with a partner. However, the system still favours the one earner couple family because it creates disincentives for the second parent (usually the mother) from taking up employment. In other words it favours the male breadwinner model where mothers have partners. As the former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, told the Daycare Trust at their annual conference in 2004 ‘the Working Tax Credit (WTC) enables half a million mothers to choose to stay at home’ (emphasis added). At the same time the Chancellor of the Exchequer boasted that the WTC helps lone mothers into employment and pressure on lone mothers to return to paid employment has increased since then and in 2010 they will have to return when their youngest child reaches seven years of age. Childcare subsidies in the tax credit system are only available to mothers in employment. Half the beneficiaries are lone mothers and their economic activity rates have increased to 57 per cent, which is still below that (70 per cent) of partnered mothers (ONS 2007). Childcare is a means to an end rather than a public good for all children unlike free part-time pre-school education which is available to all who want it. The Legacy of the Male Breadwinner–Full-time Housewife Model Economics plays an important part in the life of man [sic] but it is not the whole of the life of man. Informal caring is a term which hides a rich variety of human relationships: between children and parents; between spouses; between kith and kin and friends and neighbours. Most care without giving a thought to the


Changing Relations of Welfare financial cost of caring. It somehow demeans them to reduce their dedication to cash amounts (David Lipsey, Note of Dissent, Royal Commission on Long Term Care 1999: 133).

This economist’s view is based on an assumption about care which is consistent with those described earlier in the chapter. It is also one still shared by many policy makers in the British government. For example, there has been a growing interest across the European Union (EU) in giving disabled and elderly adults needing care more choice. Schemes of Direct Payments so that they can purchase the care they want, rather than relying on services provided directly by social services departments are becoming increasingly common. In continental European countries direct payments are used to give those needing care more choice in general and, in particular, to sustain and even increase the care which wives, daughters, sisters and other relatives – and in some countries husbands – provide (Lundsgaard 2005). In England these payments are also being promoted to increase choice but their main purpose is to stimulate and sustain the private-for-profit markets in domiciliary and residential care which are already providing most formal social care services. However, England is different in only exceptionally allowing these payments to be used to pay relatives for the care they provide and then only at the discretion of local authority. Similar considerations inform childcare policies. Explaining why childcare provided by a friend or family member, unless they register as childminders and meet certain requirements, is excluded from the provisions of the Childcare Tax Credit scheme, which pays a proportion of the childcare costs of employed parents, the Minister of Children said: ‘The Government does not think it appropriate to intervene in private family arrangements’ (DfES, Childcare Made More Affordable. Press Release 17 May 2004). Moreover childcare by grandmothers is ‘freely given’ (DfES and HMT 2005). That does not mean it is costless to those who give care. Moreover, the much more costly married man’s allowance was never presented as an intrusion in the family because it was subsidizing the ‘independent’ male breadwinner. (As long as tax payers were middle-class Englishmen no-one checked that fathers were actually maintaining the children they were claiming tax relief on.) Decreasing the direct dependence of female carers on that breadwinner was altogether different. There is not a consensus about paying relatives to care for each other but at least the opportunity costs of caring by grandmothers and other relatives could be recognized as is now the case of parents with young or disabled children and since 2007, carers of disabled or frail adults. They have the right to ask to work shorter hours. Parents can claim WTC when working 16 hours, unlike other claimants who must be working 30 hours unless they are themselves disabled.

 Despite the increase in formal childcare provision (mainly in the private sector) since 1997, employed mothers’ dependence on informal care, especially provided by grandmothers, has not declined (Kazimirski et al. 2008).

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The belief that cash and care do not mix is shared by one of the leading and most effective of the organizations representing carers. In 2006, Carers UK, began campaigning not only to confine the term ‘carer’ to those who are caring for family or friends unpaid but also to stop the widespread practice of referring to members of the social care workforce as ‘paid carers’ or ‘formal carers’. This, it is claimed is a misuse of the term ‘carer’. However this is to perpetuate the damaging dichotomies which as discussed above, were consciously constructed in the 19th century and perpetuated in Britain and elsewhere in the world throughout the 20th century. Attempts to challenge these highly gendered dichotomies between rational choice in the economy on the one hand and moral sentiment and duty in the family on the other, are resisted on the grounds both that women would care less in the family as a result and that the economy would become less competitive and productive. Given the gendered division of domestic responsibilities in the family and that the workplace has been designed in the interests of male full-time workers, it is still easier for men than women to ignore the interdependence of family and economy and give priority to the demands of the workplace and claim the ‘independence’ which is still associated with masculinity. There are also dangers for both givers and receivers of care in treating care as a commodity in a competitive market. This does not mean that care should not be provided in exchange for money. Carers do not live on air, they incur opportunity costs (recognized inadequately by CA) and additional expenses. It is in recognition of this that one in ten of employed mothers pay family and friends for the childcare they provide (Kazimirski et al. 2008). A cash payment at least makes care visible and can be a valued token of recognition. Above all, care wherever it takes place, is based on a relationship of trust, which takes time to establish and sustain. A cash payment may facilitate this and as discussed above, unlike in Britain, direct payment schemes in continental Europe recognize this. However, left to the market, with pressures to hold down the cost of care, especially the wages of care workers, care may be reduced to a list of tasks and the quality of care falls (Himmelweit and Land 2008). Conclusion As marriage and cohabitation are becoming almost indistinguishable in law, the male breadwinner model is being displaced in theory by the individual citizen worker model (Lewis 2001a, 2001b, 2004). Women, irrespective of their marital status and whether or not they have young children or grandchildren, are now expected to be in the labour market. They are being pushed as well as pulled into employment as the proportion of men earning a wage sufficient to support a family, always a minority (Bowley 1921, cited in Ross 1993: 45), has declined. Most households with children depend on two or at least one-and-a-half earners. Those who have no or only one earner are likely to be poor. In contrast to the decades prior to the Second World War when the male breadwinner model was applied consistently across government departments, the post-war government in


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Britain did not speak with one voice. The social security system assumed marriage would remove women from the labour market. However the welfare state itself created hundreds of thousands of jobs in health, education and social services and in response to the Ministry of Labour’s exhortations, women joined the expanding labour market in growing numbers. However, for the reasons discussed above, the British Government chose to avoid developing formal child care services to enable mothers to work full time. Instead, where full-time workers were needed, especially in the expanding health and welfare services they were recruited from the Commonwealth countries. British mothers were then accommodated by the creation of part-time jobs. In 1950 only one in 20 employees worked part-time (less than 30 hours). By 2000 this had increased to over one in four. Women have paid dearly for this method of reconciling their family ‘duties’ and the demands of paid work. Part-time employment in Britain has always carried lower pay, less security and fewer opportunities for training and promotion. The gender pay gap for women working part-time has remained the highest in the EU (Manning and Petrongolo 2005) despite the various EU Directives seeking to reconcile employment and family needs. The ‘long hours culture’ which has developed in Britain over the last 25 years disadvantages those who work shorter or flexible hours or take leave, even though more of the latter are now paid. It is significant that in Britain ‘flexible’ working is presented as a means of achieving ‘work–life balance’ for the carers of children, people with disabilities and frail elderly people. This does little to value care more highly or to recognize care is essential to economic productivity as well as to society at large. Balance implies a zero-sum game which is different from ‘work–life reconciliation’, the more common phrase used in the rest of the EU. The more fundamental issue is that the gendered division of labour embodied in the male breadwinner model has deeply affected the way not just work but time is structured and valued (Lewis 2004). It is interesting to note that Sidney Webb (1919) advocated not only a minimum wage but also a legally enforced national minimum of leisure and recreation. Time spent outside the labour market is more highly valued if it is spent in consuming than in caring and full-time mothers and carers are still defined as ‘unoccupied’. By the end of the 20th century, feminists were arguing that ‘an ethic of care’ is needed to inform a wide range of public and social policies in order to recognize and value care and those who need and provide it (Sevenhuisjen 1998, Tronto 1993). In Britain, some of the toughest problems lie not only in sharing care differently within the home and compensating carers adequately but also as Eleanor Rathbone had predicted over 70 years ago (in Reiss 1934: preface viii), in reforming the economic sphere, with its culture and practices which favour those – mainly men – without caring responsibilities. The male breadwinner model so firmly embedded in British policies for well over a century, still keeps care and carers in the shadows.

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References Atkins, M. 1914. The Economic Foundations of the Women’s Movement. Fabian Tract 175. London: Fabian Society. Beveridge, W.H. 1930, first published 1909. Unemployment: A Problem for Industry. London: Longman Green. Beveridge, W.H. 1942. Social Insurance and Allied Services (The Beveridge Report). (Cmd 6404), London: HMSO. Black, C. 1907. Sweated Industry and the Minimum Wage. London: Duckworth. Booth, C. (ed.). 1892–97. Life and Labour of the People in London (9 vols). London: Macmillan. Bosanquet, H. 1915, first published 1906. The Family. London: Macmillan. Bourke, J. 1998. Housewifery in working class England, 1860–1914, in Women’s Work. The English Experience 1650–1914, edited by P. Sharpe. London: Arnold, 332–358. Bowlby, J. 1953. Child Care and the Growth of Love. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Braithwaite, E. 1957. Lloyd George’s Ambulance Wagon. London: Methuen. Cmnd. 5116. 1973. Green Paper, Proposals for a Tax-Credit System. London: HMSO. Committee on One Parent Families. 1974. Report (the Finer Report). (Cmnd. 5629 Vol. 1), London: HMSO. Davidoff, L. 1995. Regarding some old husbands’ tales: public and private in feminist history, in Worlds Between: Historical Perspectives on Gender and Class. Oxford: Polity and Blackwell, 227–276 Davidoff, L. and Hall, C. 1987. Family Fortunes: Men and Women of the English Middle Class 1780–1850. Hutchinson: London. Davin, A. 1978. Imperialism and motherhood. History Workshop Journal, 5, Spring, 9–65. Deacon, S., Fitzpatrick, P., Howard, M. and Land, H. 2007. Women and Incapacity Benefits. London: Child Poverty Action Group and Women’s Budget Group. DHSS. 1976. Low Cost Day Care. Sunningdale: Conference Report. DfES and HMT. 2004. Ten Year Strategy for Childcare: Choice for Parents, The Best Start for Children. London: The Stationery Office. Dyhouse, C. 1989. Feminism and the Family in England 1880–1939. Oxford: Blackwell. Family Endowment Society. 1927. Report of Conference: Six Aspects of Family Allowances, London: London School of Economics. Finer, M. and Macgregor, O. 1974. The History of the Obligation to Maintain. (Cmnd. 5629 Vol. 2 Appendix v), London: HMSO. Harris, J. 1993. Private Lives and Public Spirits: A Social History of Britain 1870– 1914. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Higgs, E. 1987. Women’s occupations and work in the 19th century census. History Workshop Journal, 23, Spring, 59–80.


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Himmelweit, S. and Land, H. 2008. Reducing gender inequalities to create a sustainable care system in Viewpoint 2293. York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 1–12. Hollis, P. 1987. Ladies Elect: Women in English Local Government 1865–1914. Oxford: Clarendon. Holtby, W. 1935. Women. London: Bodley Head. Hutchins, B. 1911. The Working Life of Women. Fabian Tract 157. London: Fabian Society. Johns, A. (ed.). 1986. Unequal Opportunities: Women’s Employment in England 1800–1918. Oxford: Blackwell. Kazimirski, A., Smith, R., Butt, S., Ireland, E. and Lloyd, E. 2008. Childcare and Early Years Survey 2007: Parents’ Use, Views and Experiences. Research Report DCSF 025. London: Department of Children, Schools and Families. Kiernan, K., Land, H. and Lewis, J. 1998. Lone Motherhood in Twentieth Century Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Knowles, L. 1921. The Industrial and Commercial Revolutions in Great Britain during the Nineteenth Century. London: Routledge. Land, H. 1975. The introduction of family allowances, in Change, Choice and Conflict in Social Policy, edited by P. Hall, H. Land, R. Parker and A. Webb. London: Heinemann, 157–230. Land, H. 1977. The child benefit fiasco, in The Year Book of Social Policy 1976, edited by K. Jones and S. Baldwin. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 116– 132. Land, H. 1980. The family wage. Feminist Review, 6, 55–77. Land, H. 1986. An analysis of the meaning of women’s work as manifested in British income maintenance systems. International Sociology, 1(3), 243–58. Lewis, J. 1991. Women and Social Action in Victorian and Edwardian England. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. Lewis, J. 1992. Gender and the development of welfare regimes. Journal of European Social Policy, 2(3), 159–73. Lewis, J. 2001a. The End of Marriage? Individualism and Intimate Relationships. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. Lewis, J. 2001b. The decline of the male breadwinner model: the implications for work and care. Social Politics, 8(2), 152–70. Lewis, J. 2004. Individualization and the need for new forms of family solidarity, in Solidarity between the Sexes and the Generations, edited by T. Knijn and A. Komter. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 51–67. Lundsgaard, J. 2005. Consumer Direction and Choice in Long Term Care for Older Persons, Including Payments for Informal Care. Health Working Paper No, 20, Paris: OECD. Macnicol, J. 1998. The Politics of Retirement in Britain 1878–1948. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Manning, A. and Petrongolo, B. 2005. The Part-time Pay Penalty, London School of Economics and Women and Equality Unit, CEP Discussion Paper No. 679.

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Marshall, A. 1901. Economics of Industry Vol 1. London: Macmillan. Myrdal, A. 1945. Nation and Family. London: Kegan Paul. ONS (Office for National Statistics). 2007. Social Trends 39. London: HMSO. Pigou, A. 1946. An Introduction to Economics. London: Routledge. Pigou, A. 1962, first published 1920. The Economics of Welfare. London: Macmillan. Pujol, M. 2001. Into the margin!, in Toward a Feminist Philosophy of Economics, edited by D.K. Barker and E. Kuiper. London: Routledge, 21–36. Rathbone, E. 1924. The Disinherited Family. London: Allen & Unwin. Reiss, E. 1934. The Rights and Duties of Englishwomen. Manchester: Sherratt and Hughes. Roberts, E. 1984. Labour and Love. Oxford: Blackwell. Ross, E. 1993. Love and Toil: Motherhood in Outcast London. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Rowntree, S.B. 1903. Poverty: A Study of Town Life. London: Macmillan. Royal Commission on the Poor Laws and Relief of Distress. 1909. Report. (Cmnd. 4499), London: HMSO. Royal Commission on Income Tax. 1920. Report. (Cmnd. 615), London: HMSO. Royal Commission on Equal Pay. 1946. Report. (Cmnd. 6937), London: HMSO. Royal Commission on Long Term Care. 1999. With Respect to Old Age. (Cmnd. 4192–I), London: The Stationery Office. Sevenhuisjen, S. 1998. Citizenship and the Ethics of Care. London: Routledge. Strachey, R. 1978. The Cause. London: Virago. Szreter, S. 1996. Fertility, Class and Gender in Britain, 1860–1940. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Tawney, R.H. 1964. first published 1931. Equality. London: Allen & Unwin. Thane, P. 1978. Women and the Poor Law in Victorian and Edwardian England. History Workshop Journal, 6, 29–51. Tronto, J. 1993. Moral Boundaries: A Political Argument for an Ethic of Care. London: Routledge. Veblen, T. 1970, first published 1899. The Theory of the Leisure Class. London: Allen & Unwin. Waring, M. 1989. If Women Counted: A New Feminist Economics. London: Macmillan. Webb, S. 1919. The Necessary Basis of Society. Fabian Tract 159. London: Fabian Society. West, R. 1913. The sin of self-sacrifice, in The Young Rebecca. Writings of Rebecca West 1911–1917, edited by J. Marcus. 1983. London: Virago, 30–33. Women’s Co-operative Guild. 1917. Memorandum on the National Care of Maternity. London: Women’s Co-operative Guild.

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Chapter 3

Competing Meanings of Gender Equality: Family, Marriage and Tax Law in 20th Century Denmark Anna-Birte Ravn and Bente Rosenbeck

Introduction Until the early 1970s, negotiations and compromises between four political parties, representing the major social groups of the country, shaped Danish politics. In the period between 1920 and 1970, the Social Democrats, often in alliance with the Social Liberal Party, held government power for more than 30 years, alternating with Liberal governments, which were supported by the Conservative Party. The Social Democrats and the Social Liberals were more radical in regard to gender equality, but all parties supported equality and marriage reforms. However, although equality between spouses was introduced in the Danish marriage laws of the 1920s, husbands continued to be defined in Danish tax legislation as heads of household until 1970, with the result that in this 50-year period the tax law system recognized neither married women’s individuality nor their right to pay their own taxes. Using this apparent contradiction as our analytical focus, this chapter examines the meanings of gender equality as they were constructed and contested in Danish parliamentary and public debates over marriage and tax law reforms, and considers more generally what they reveal about the relationship between family, gender and the state. Our main argument is that although the idea of gender equality was formulated and broadly accepted from the 1850s in Denmark, the meaning of equality differed between political actors and shifted over time. What was thought of as equality in the 1920s was perceived to be inequality in the 1960s. Moreover, the idea of gender equality was often used as a means to further other ends. In the early part of the 20th century, it was deployed mainly to bolster the institution of marriage as a  The Danish Social Democratic Party never gained a majority in the way its Norwegian and Swedish counterparts did.  In 1901, after 25 years of political battle, the old Right (representing landed aristocracy and urban capitalists) finally gave in to the principle of Cabinet responsibility – wherein the governing party/parties should have a majority in the Lower House – and handed over power to the Left (the Liberal Party).


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foundation stone of the emerging welfare state: an institution to which population policy ascribed a primary responsibility for family maintenance as well as for reproduction. From about 1960, the notion of gender equality became a means in labour market policy to secure both a supply of labour and economic growth, which was the sine qua non of the mature Danish welfare state. This meant that, while in the early period the goal of gender equality was pursued within the family, during the later period gender equality involved married women’s ‘de-familialization’. Our aim is to contribute theoretically to a more differentiated picture of family policies through the 20th century and we therefore use as our point of departure a contextualized concept of equality and historically specific debates about citizenship. On the one hand, our argument will confirm or even strengthen the idea of the ‘women-friendliness’ (Hernes 1987) of the Scandinavian welfare states. We suggest that the marriage reforms of the 1920s did not result in a ‘weak male-breadwinner model’ (Lewis 1993, 1997), but a ‘modified dual-breadwinner model’. Contrary to other European countries, the Nordic welfare states have recognized married women’s individuality since the early 20th century. Married women were not treated by the state as mere accessories of their husbands; they were recognized as equal individuals whose contribution to family provision and care was understood to be essential for a healthy and productive population. On the other hand, the tax law system and the debates over reform of that system show that, until the 1960s, married women’s situation was precarious when it came to fundamental citizenship rights. In this way, Carole Pateman’s notion of a ‘sexual contract’ being the basis of the social contract and women’s secondary citizenship (Pateman 1988, 1989) also applies in the Nordic context. However, married women’s attainment of full citizenship around 1970 occurred earlier than in other European countries, and becomes more understandable in the light of their continual contribution to family maintenance, be that as producers in the family or in the labour market. The fully developed dual- or universal-breadwinner model in turn laid the foundation for the steps taken by the Nordic welfare states towards a ‘universal-caregiver model’ (Fraser 1997b) or, in Alice Kessler-Harris’s words, a ‘gender encompassing economic citizenship’ (Kessler-Harris 2001, 2003).   The term ‘de-familialization’ is defined by Lister (1997:173) as ‘the degree to which individual adults can uphold a socially acceptable standard of living, independently of family relationships, either through paid work or through social security provisions’.   We understand ‘family policy’ in a broad sense to include, for example, tax policies. The term ‘family policy’ was not used in Denmark until the early 1960s.  Scandinavia includes Denmark, Norway and Sweden.   ‘Daddy quotas’ – the earmarking of father’s leave which was not transferable to the mother – were introduced in the Nordic countries in the late 20th century, first in Sweden.  The notion of ‘a gender encompassing economic citizenship’ captures ‘rights and obligations attendant to the daily struggle to reconcile economic well-being and household maintenance with the capacity to participate more fully in democratic societies’ (Kessler-Harris 2003: 168).

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The empirical sources on which we draw are, first, parliamentary and government documents, including central commission reports, and second, journals published by the Danish Women’s Society and the Social Democratic Women’s Clubs, as well as reports from meetings of Nordic lawyers’ and women’s organizations. The central role played by ad hoc commissions is a specific feature of Nordic policy processes. These commissions typically included representatives of all political parties, as well as interest groups, civil servants from relevant ministries and academic experts, and they functioned as knowledgeproducing institutions, as instruments for policy planning (commissions would, for instance, often propose new legislation) and as an arena for consensus building (Lundqvist 2008). It was through the work of the commissions that the capacity of the Nordic political culture for negotiation and compromise between opposing social and political groups – labour versus capital,10 landed versus urban interests – crystallized. Danish modernization in the 19th century was primarily agrarian, and until about 1960 agriculture was the leading export trade, while urban industries and trades produced mainly for the home market. Agriculture was dominated by middle-sized family farms, but also included a large group of independent smallholders, whose numbers grew until 1945. As in agriculture, urban industries and trades were primarily medium-sized and many depended on family labour. From the late 1950s, however, a second wave of industrialization and economic growth made family business ever more unprofitable, and rising numbers of women decided to stay in the regular labour market after marriage. Our argument is organized into two sections. The first examines the reforms to marriage legislation that occurred in the 1920s, the main principles of which have remained unchanged in Denmark until the present day. The second section, on tax law reforms, begins by commenting briefly on the efforts of Danish women’s rights organizations at the beginning of the 20th century to change the gendered tax law system – efforts that were strengthened as a consequence of the marriage reforms of the 1920s, but which remained in vain until 1945. Our discussion then moves to the period following the Second World War, 1945–1970, when women’s organizations’ critique of the tax law system was heard and accepted.

 The Danish Women’s Society (Dansk Kvindesamfund) was established in 1871, and from 1884 published the journal Kvinden & Samfundet [Women and Society]. From the 1930s, many Social Democratic women joined the Society.  The Social-Democratic Women’s Clubs published the journal Frie Kvinder [Liberated Women] between 1947 and 1973. 10 After a major labour market battle in 1899, a settlement between labour and capital stipulated the conditions for future collective bargaining and agreement on wages and working conditions. One important background for this settlement was a very high degree of organization (about 75 per cent of male and about 20 per cent of female workers around 1900).


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Both sections compare the Danish case with corresponding developments in other Nordic countries11 and in Europe as a whole. Marriage and Marriage Acts12 Following the first Danish democratic constitution of 184913 and a general economic liberalization in the mid-19th century, unmarried women attained civil rights in 1857. Married women’s citizenship rights were soon to follow (Dahlsgaard 1980, Lading 1939, Lemche 1939) and in 1880, married women in Denmark gained the right to dispose of their own earnings. The 1899 Danish Property Act bestowed on them majority rights, but did not imply full equality between the spouses.14 The wife could decide over her separate estate, but overall disposal of joint property, together with legal custody of the children, lay with her husband. At the beginning of the 20th century, marriage reforms were introduced in all Scandinavian countries and included three major changes: the marriage contract was reformed, divorce law was liberalized and women’s individual rights were extended. Alongside these reforms new child laws were introduced, giving illegitimate children the same rights as children born in wedlock. The new marriage Acts were equality laws, which stated that the spouses were equal15 and they were underpinned by other kinds of legislation, especially women’s achievement of political citizenship. Danish women were enfranchised in 1908 for local elections, and a revised constitution of 1915 gave women and servants equal and universal enfranchisement for parliamentary elections. Long before that, however, women’s organizations were taking active part in political decision making by petitioning government – or government commissions – and Parliament, and in most cases women’s voices were heard. One example is the early factory 11 The Nordic countries include Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland. 12 This section builds on the results of a Nordic research project ‘Marriage in the Northern Countries from a European Perspective – Modernization and the Construction of Gender’, which includes national and comparative analyses of the early 20th century legal developments in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, as well as an investigation of the Nordic collaboration in relation to matrimonial law (see Melby et al. 2000, 2001, 2006a, 2006b, Rosenbeck 2000). 13 The constitution of 1849 gave equal and universal enfranchisement for parliamentary elections to men in charge of a household. 14  Corresponding legislation was enacted in Sweden in 1875 and in Norway in 1888. 15 The result was, in Sweden, marriage and divorce reform in 1915 and a new Marriage Code in 1920; in Norway, the Law on Formation and Dissolution of Marriage of 1918 and the Law on the Property Relations of Spouses of 1927; and in Denmark, the Law on Formation and Dissolution of Marriage of 1922 and the Law on the Legal Effects of Marriage of 1925. Iceland and Finland chose to follow the Scandinavian marriage model in 1923 and 1929.

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laws of 1901 and 1913, which – contrary to protective labour legislation in most Western industrialized countries – did not include prohibition of women’s night work and thus contributed to women’s full economic citizenship.16 This outcome was probably influenced by a strong alliance of the Danish Women’s Society and female Social Democratic trade unionists, protesting against the ban on women working night shifts. Such cross-class cooperation between women’s organizations is a characteristic of Nordic political culture, giving women a relatively strong voice in policy processes. From the 1880s, the Danish Women’s Society had been concerned with the equality of married women, and in the first decades of the 20th century its policy demands were met. It was the women’s rights movements and the lawyers’ organizations which prepared the way for the marriage reforms. Nordic cooperation also played an important role and had a very long tradition, especially in regard to cultural collaboration in civil society.17 Members of the legal profession, natural scientists, women teachers, painters and writers maintained close ties through Nordic conferences and in inter-Nordic specialist journals. Collaboration also took place among politicians, among lawyers and within the labour movement and the women’s rights movement. Nordic lawyers tried to establish a forum for regular meetings in order to coordinate the creation of laws between the Nordic countries (Tamm 1972). The first Nordic meeting took place in 1872 in Copenhagen and included 400 participants. These meetings became an important source of inspiration for a common Nordic legislation. At the first two meetings, in 1872 and 1875, matrimonial legislation was discussed, together with matters of property and inheritance. Legislation became the means for seeking Nordic unity and harmonization. In the 19th century, women’s rights organizations held a few Nordic meetings, but no foundation was laid for continuous cooperation. However, the goals of the various women’s organizations in the Nordic countries, concerning married women, were very similar. The Danish Women’s Society was not satisfied with the Property Act of 1899, which was relevant only if the wife earned her own living. In 1908, the Society attempted to intervene in the legislative work and sent a proposal for a new marriage law to the Danish Government (Gift Kvindes Retsstilling [Married Women’s Legal Position] 1908). The proposal advocated equal rights in disposal of property and in custody of children. In 1909, a further decisive step was taken 16 The right (and obligation) to maternity leave in Danish factory laws from 1901 strengthened women’s social citizenship. The Norwegian and Finnish parliaments also decided not to include a night work prohibition for women in early factory legislation, whereas in Sweden – in spite of considerable protest from Social Democratic women – such prohibition was enacted in 1909 (see Wikander et al. 1995). 17 The 19th century saw a proliferation of transnational ideology extolling a Scandinavian or Nordic spirit of communality parallel to nationalism. It started as wide-scale political vision, but was replaced by pragmatic cooperation and cultural coalitions working in civilian society.


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towards marriage reform. The initiative came from Sweden, and delegates from that country, Norway and Denmark met to undertake a revision of the existing regulations. Inter-Scandinavian migration was mentioned at the Intergovernmental Conference of 1909 as a factor necessitating harmonization of marriage laws. Another explicit goal was equality. It was feared that young women would be hesitant about marrying and the aim was therefore to change the legal status of women within marriage, thereby modernizing marriage in accordance with the demands of society. It was argued that, as individuals, women should be accorded the same rights as men. The Scandinavian Family Commission, of which only lawyers and government officers were members at its inception, met numerous times between 1910 and 1918. During the process the commissions in the three countries consulted representatives of the women’s movement on their opinion of the first draft bill concerning contraction and dissolution of marriage. The church, which for centuries had been the most important institution after the state concerning the regulations of marriage, was not involved in the preliminary negotiations or in the political process. Instead, members of the medical council, together with women’s organizations, were among the experts whom the commission asked for advice on the draft bill. It is significant that the doctors, not the priests, were asked for their opinion on the reform of marriage, a sign that the importance of the church in Denmark had diminished. The church appears to have accepted both this new role and the marriage reforms, which included liberal regulations governing divorce. However, priests obtained the right not to marry divorced people, which had been the church’s most important claim. What kind of equality did women campaign for? At the 1914 Nordic meeting of women’s rights organizations in Copenhagen, one of the principal issues concerned the Scandinavian marriage Acts, which were in preparation at the time (Beretning 1914). The meeting discussed the meaning of equality: how could women be treated as both equal to and different from men? The intention was not that women should work outside the home, but that they should be valued for their work within the home. Motivated by the wish to see an increase in appreciation of women’s family work, a Swedish representative suggested that a woman should have a right to a part (at least 5 per cent) of her husband’s income for her personal spending. Astrid Stampe Feddersen, president of the Danish Women’s Society, had called for the Nordic meeting in 1914. She was one of the Danish women who over the years had most explicitly formulated a policy and a vision of equality between husband and wife (Feddersen 1888, 1885). To be a wife and a mother was seen as the calling of a woman and motherhood was highly valued. Stampe Feddersen therefore wanted women to have a worthier standing in society, next to that of men and for women – married as well as unmarried – to be drawn into society. Her goal was both to extend women’s rights and to ‘enrich the world with a more direct female influence’ (Stampe Feddersen 1888: 47, our translation). She was not campaigning for complete economic independence for women, but for a division

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of work that would allow them a degree of independence (Stampe Feddersen 1888: 38). It appears that the Danish Women’s Society rejected a strict formulation of equality (Richman 1916); the most important issue for the Society being the right of the wife to an appropriate part of the husband’s income. In this context, the wife was seen as an educated companion, the mainstay of her husband and carer of his children. The women’s movement wanted citizenship rights for women first and foremost as mothers and housewives in the private sphere and used arguments that confirm Pateman’s (1988, 1989) reasoning regarding women’s secondary citizenship. The Scandinavian Family Commission had issued a report (Udkast til Lov 1913) dealing with the formation and dissolution of marriage, which was discussed in Copenhagen in 1914. The meeting also adopted a resolution suggesting that women should take part in the commission. Three women became members in 1915 and the commission delivered its final report in 1918, addressing the legal effects of marriage (Udkast til Lov 1918). The legislative bodies of each country passed the bills concerning the contraction and dissolution of marriage with only minor amendments. All political parties in Denmark supported a new marriage Act, with only a few members of the Conservative and Liberal Parties speaking against it. There was, however, some resistance in society at large. The controversial issues were divorce and the question of married women’s economic independence and work outside the home. Many Conservatives interpreted the reform as an attack on patterns of family life and sexual hierarchies and opposed the new marriage laws for the very reason they had been introduced: because they recognized a concept of the family based on equality and independence. They feared that the new Act would have the effect of abolishing patriarchy and viewed the legislation as a threat against the ‘natural’ relationship between the sexes. F. Vinding Kruse, a law professor at the University of Copenhagen, described the law proposal as ‘a terrifying example of abstract principles … with no consideration for human nature and the undeniable differences between man and woman’ (Vinding Kruse 1920: 241, our translation). These were minor issues, however, and the laws were passed in 1922 and 1925. The political consensus – or the will to compromise – was evident. All Danish political parties supported the marriage reforms. What were the most important changes in the Danish marriage Acts? The Marriage Act of 1925 aimed at the legal equality of husband and wife (Lov om Ægteskabets Retsvirkninger 1925). The law imposed an obligation on both spouses to maintain the household (Åmark 2006). Husband and wife both had an obligation to contribute to household maintenance, but it was further decided that women’s contribution – of work in the home – could be recognized on equal terms with payment of money. The result was an economic partnership that combined independence and equality. Spouses could contract for separate property (Lov om Ægteskabs Indgaaelse og Opløsning 1922), and the wife gained a right to financial support during marriage, which was of great importance when a marriage came to an end. The Custody Act of 1922 aimed at the legal equality of parents concerning


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the children in a marriage and strengthened the position of the mother in the event of divorce. For these reasons we prefer to speak of families with two breadwinners, instead of a ‘weak’ male-breadwinner model, in order not to ignore the changes brought about by the marriage reforms concerning women’s individuality, subjectivity and rights, and to make visible the fact that housework provided welfare. Much of what women did was not paid work, but it was conceptualized as important work and was afforded both social recognition and respect18 by politicians and the women’s movement who both recognized women as co-providers or co-breadwinners. According to the maintenance model of the marriage Acts, all adults were obliged to be able to support themselves and their children economically. Women’s responsibility was extended and they had to support the household economically on their own in the absence of a male breadwinner. Work in the home was considered to be ‘proper’ work that granted women formal civil and economic rights both during marriage and in the case of divorce. The model for the reform of marriage was in principle, therefore, a dual-breadwinner model. It might also be referred to as a modified or patriarchally dominated two-breadwinner model. Although married women were given rights within the institution of marriage and their position as mothers was strengthened, considerable gender inequality remained. The man was still the family provider and the woman the housewife (Hirdman 1994). The construction of individual rights in marriage was based on a gendered relationship of duties and liberties. The individual rights of women were enhanced, but on the basis of complementarity. Treatment of issues such as surnames, nationality and the tax system in the three Scandinavian countries still recognized the husband as the principal partner. Women were liberated from direct male guardianship and control, but ended up in a situation where their role as mothers was indirectly made their primary choice. This did not change until the 1960s. Marriage was still based on different roles for the sexes, but the legislation did constitute a remarkable gain in terms of civil rights for married women. It was also important that mothers were given equal status as parents. As we have emphasized earlier, for a large part of the women’s movement at the time, there was no contradiction between equality and a gendered division of work. Equality was understood not as sameness or similarity, but as recognition of the equal worth of work carried out both within and outside of the home. According to the Act of 1922, the regulations governing divorce were widened and now allowed for incompatibility. A legal separation could be obtained both by mutual agreement and, in more limited circumstances, unilaterally; the separation could be converted into divorce after a period of time. Norway, Sweden and Denmark adopted the same framework for no-fault divorce. Scandinavian law was liberal not only regarding the possibilities for obtaining a divorce, but also when it came to its judicial consequences. As a rule, the matrimonial property was to be distributed equally between both spouses. During the period 18 Theories of recognition are developed by Fraser (1997a).

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of separation, mutual maintenance continued. After divorce, a maintenance order could be issued, requiring the one to support the other, depending on needs and capacity. Women could not marry for money but they could lose it on divorce. Medical Matters, Eugenics and the Early Welfare State The marriage law reform generated a broad debate on impediments to marriage on medical grounds and the legislators sought the opinion of medical experts on the reform proposal. As mentioned above, the church did not play an important role in the political process and the rather modest role played by the church is evidence that the marriage laws had been secularized and that the influence of the church had been restricted. Religious values were being replaced by secular rationalism, and science became a new basis for family policy. There was no tension between religion and science, however. Religion did not disappear with modernization, but was manifested in other social relations. The Danish Lutheran Church more or less accepted its new role. Marriage was still seen as a lifelong relationship, but even the church accepted divorce by referring to a passage in the New Testament (Matthew 19:8) in which Jesus himself accepts divorce: ‘Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives; but from the beginning it was not so’ (Andersen and Rosenbeck 2006). It is difficult to see the difference between divorce due to ‘hardness of heart’ and that due to incompatibility. Religious considerations had been transformed into ethical concerns. The secularism that underpinned these early family law reforms was consistent with the subsequent development of the welfare state. The new laws were based on the premise that the institution of marriage existed to serve spouses themselves as much as society. Under this legislation, the family was to secure support for its members, but now in cooperation with the welfare state. Marriage was no longer seen primarily as a religious but as a medical issue with eugenics, a new science introduced in Scandinavia around 1910, influencing the marriage reforms. For eugenic reasons the Act of 1922 forbade to a greater extent than previously the marriages of those defined as ‘idiots’ and ‘lunatics’. Similar considerations prompted a further rule forbidding people with epilepsy, or those with a venereal disease that could be transmitted to children, to marry unless the other party had been informed of the fact and both had been verbally instructed by a physician about the risk that would be incurred by cohabitation. Eugenics also promoted a concern for the health of the family. As early as in the 1913 report it was explicitly stated that science had provided a new foundation for protection of the health of the couple and their children (Udkast til lov 1913). This concern for health might also limit the freedom of individuals: regulation and control was legitimized in science. Social engineering was an important aspect of the marriage reforms and illustrates that the modernization of marriage was also meant to solve social problems and to create an orderly society. Supported by arguments based on heredity and genetics, the marriage laws had the important objective of preventing marriages that were understood as causing ‘degeneration’


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of the population. In this sense, the reform of the marriage laws signified the first phase of welfare legislation aimed at improving the health of the population, which became an increasingly important objective of social policy in the 1930s. The new marriage model fitted in well with the welfare state. Equality was seen not as a goal, but as a means to support the family. K.K. Steincke, an important Danish Social Democrat who became both Minister of Justice (1924–26, 1935– 39) and Minister of Social Affairs (1929–35), took a great interest in marriage in relation to social policy and eugenics. In 1918, he suggested that the state should help to relieve the burden of maintenance and he later developed his ideas in a book about poor relief (Steincke 1920). He was concerned about decreasing birth rates resulting in the two-child family and interested in promoting population growth and therefore in supporting the family, but without taking responsibility for children away from parents. Steincke also supported equality in order to promote marriage. He said explicitly that he wanted the misuse of power within marriage to be reduced and male dominance and male brutality to be eliminated. In his view, the patriarchal family should be replaced by a family in which both adults were equally responsible. The first paragraph of the Danish law of 1925 stated that ‘Man and wife shall support each other. They have joint responsibility to provide for the welfare of the family’ (Lov om Ægeskabets Retsvirkninger 1925, our translation). Steincke’s proposal was that state support for the welfare of the family should be through tax relief and direct subsidy to families: he was opposed to women working outside the family, which he considered to be ‘unnatural’. In the transition to state intervention in matters of the family, social policy and health policy became important for what was later called ‘a prophylactic social welfare policy’, aimed at preventing social problems rather than compensating for them. The concept of welfare was widened. Whereas early social policy had targeted the poor, it now targeted the whole population. Social policy became health policy, and the family, and in particular the wife, emerged as important actors. Gender equality in marriage and citizenship rights for married women became a means for bolstering the institution of marriage as the foundation of the emerging welfare state. Steincke thought that social policy and eugenics had to go hand in hand or society would be unable to afford to help the healthy poor. All available money would otherwise go to homes for those who, during this period, were defined as the ‘mentally deficient’. The best solution for the welfare state lay in what Steincke called rational social policy. He was opposed to positive eugenics and the procreation of ‘ideal man’, but supported negative eugenics, aimed at preventing the birth of children with ‘abnormalities’. Sterilization and the prohibition of marriage were seen as means to avoid the reproduction of ‘undesirable’ elements and learning disabilities. In Denmark a sterilization law was adopted in 1929, and in 1938 the Marriage Act of 1922 was revised to include greater consideration of eugenic policies. Steincke was one of the new professional administrators. He and most of the Danish followers of eugenics can be regarded as moderate or ‘reform’ eugenicists,

Competing Meanings of Gender Equality


because they stated openly that they disapproved of the more violent eugenics propaganda and of the early practice of sterilization in the USA (Hansen 1996, Koch 1996). However, Steincke accepted the eugenic premises completely, convinced that eugenics was important and necessary. He did not regard it as an alternative to social relief and social legislation, but as complementary to them. Society could afford to help the unfit, but eugenic measures should ensure that the unfit did not increase in number. Thus not all groups were included in the development of the welfare state. The poor, or those of the poor who could work, were potential citizens in the welfare state, whereas the unfit and so-called ‘feebleminded’ were totally excluded. Social policy could help the first group; sterilization, marriage counselling and the prohibition of marriage could be used to avoid the second. In this way, eugenic measures were introduced to prevent what was perceived to be a threatening ‘degeneration’ of the population and to increase the ‘quality’ of the Danish ‘people’. It can be seen that in Scandinavia eugenics was closely related to social policy in this early phase of the welfare state. There is, however, an element of continuity between eugenics and traditional social ideas. This can be identified, for instance, in the idea that marriage was not only an individual issue, but also of interest to society as a whole. In the 1820s, poverty became a barrier to marriage in Denmark while in earlier times certain forms of disability were also considered in Scandinavia to be impediments to marriage. What was new in the early 20th century, however, was that impediments to marriage, such as insanity, came to be justified by eugenic scientific arguments. There was also a close link between eugenics and the movement for social reforms. In particular, and as suggested above, eugenic sterilization was an integral part of the Nordic welfare state that emerged in the 1930s and 1940s. As Teresa Kulawik has pointed out, at that time population policy and the associated concept of social policy were complementary: both aimed at the promotion of the ‘capable’ and the prevention of the ‘unfit’. The boundaries between social policies and eugenics are therefore more fluid than hitherto assumed (Kulawik 2002). It is not possible to choose between a ‘good’ social policy and a ‘bad’ population policy: eugenics, social policy and welfare were intertwined in the first phase of the welfare state (Rosenbeck 2007, Koch 2004, Wecker 2003, Taylor 2000) and eugenics had an important function in the newly established Social Democratic welfare states where, even if the legislation followed the rules of democracy, both voluntary and compulsory means were brought into play. Integrating the Unmarried Mother At the turn of the 19th century it was of central importance, for the existence of a stable and healthy population, to secure economic support for women and children. Legislation governing marriage, with its focus on both equality and difference, was understood to be an answer to this challenge. Equality was presented as a positive and necessary value for a modern society, contributing to the solution to social


Changing Relations of Welfare

problems. Through the introduction of equality, the mutual obligation to provide support, the liberalization of divorce law and the even distribution of matrimonial property after the dissolution of a marriage, the reform of the marriage laws contributed to women’s political subjectivity and citizenship rights – for example, public child allowances were given to the mother (in Norway and Sweden from 1946 and 1947 respectively, in Denmark from 1967) and not to the father as the head of the household as in other European countries. At the same time, reform both prepared the way for the individualization necessary for a welfare system based on universal and individual rights and created a gendered arrangement based on division, supporting women’s work in the family. The gendered division of work can be understood as being of vital importance to the solution to social and economic problems: in short, women’s caring and reproductive work in the family formed the basis of the welfare state. Unmarried mothers and fathers were also expected to take responsibility for the maintenance of their families. New family laws at the beginning of the 20th century included reference to children born out of wedlock. Since the latter part of the 18th century in all Scandinavian countries, the father had been duty bound to support the child. Secularism and egalitarianism were also principal considerations in the Law on Illegitimate Children, enacted in Norway in 1915, which gave a child born out of wedlock both the right to their father’s name and the right of inheritance. Religious opposition predicted immorality among young women, as the risks involved in extramarital sexual relations diminished, but the law was passed, against the wishes of most women’s groups except for women in the labour movement. The Norwegian model was adopted in Denmark in 1937, but Sweden was more cautious. Whereas in the early 20th century married women were encouraged to work in the home and not to join the labour market, unmarried women, including unmarried mothers, were expected to earn a living on their own and to provide for themselves and their children through paid work. This apparent contradiction in Danish family policies becomes comprehensible when taking into account the overall intention of the legislature, as well as women’s organizations, to promote the possibilities available for women to work for a living, be this inside or outside the family. From the beginning of the 20th century various organizations in Denmark offered assistance to unmarried mothers because assistance was regarded as a way of helping women to help themselves. These voluntary organizations insisted on neutrality but although they presented themselves as morally, religiously and politically neutral, they did have other norms. It was, for example, very important to keep the women out of poor relief; the policy was that unmarried mothers should retain their jobs. In this way, the unmarried mother had become a working mother and had been placed within a larger framework of social policy in the early welfare state. In the 1930s, when the mother came to play a major role in the struggle to improve the ‘quality’ of the population, unmarried mothers, who had traditionally been a marginal and outcast group, were integrated into society. They achieved the status of citizens by being accepted as responsible members of society through taking care of their children. The Nordic

Competing Meanings of Gender Equality


model of welfare, for all its generosity, is characterized especially by a strong work ethic, which might be the reason why the Scandinavian Family Commission was so eager to define housework as ‘proper’ work and why voluntary organizations set out to help unmarried mothers maintain their contact with the labour market. In most cases it was not possible for unmarried mothers to provide for themselves and their children from within the family alone. This was also the case for many working-class women whose husbands, for a variety of reasons (low pay, unemployment, sickness, alcoholism, for example), were unable to provide for the family on their own. In contrast to married women in most Western countries at the time, even if Danish women were discouraged from joining the labour market, they were free to do so. No factory laws prohibited them from working night shifts, and they did not need their husbands’ consent; on the contrary, the obligation to provide for the family on a par with their husbands meant that some married women had to engage in waged work. Achievements and Outcomes The goal of Nordic cooperation had been a uniform Scandinavian legislation on family relations, which proved a successful endeavour. The English lawyer David Bradley, in his book Family Law and Political Culture (1996), concluded that the Scandinavian family laws were indeed progressive (see also Bradley 2000).19 In the field of family law, many reforms were introduced in Scandinavia in the 1920s, much earlier than in Continental Europe, where similar reforms were not enacted until after the Second World War. Marriage legislation in most other Western countries gave the husband rights to disposal, enjoyment or control of communal property brought to the marriage by the wife (Craik 1991). The German Civil Code, for example, in force from 1900, was based on a bourgeois, conservative model of the family. The husband was the principal actor in relation to property (Gerhard 1990). Not until 1957 did married women gain independence in relation to property. Remnants of the traditional family model remained in the Civil Code until 1976. In France, the Napoleonic Code placed the husband at the head of the family. The authority of the husband was restricted in 1965, but the last traces of the subordination of married women were not eliminated until 1985. In England, the Married Women’s Property Act of 1882, which established a system of separate property, gave women formal independence when they married. However, there was no provision in the Married Women’s Property Act to intervene in property relations (Bradley 1996, Stone 1995). Equality between husband and wife in relation to property in marriage later became part of the law in Western countries, and acceptance of divorce for incompatibility is now common. Comprehensive

19 Family law includes regulations on illegitimate children, divorce, the status of husband and wife, homosexuality and abortion.


Changing Relations of Welfare

reforms allowing divorce for incompatibility were not introduced in England until 1969 and in France until 1975. Tax Legislation20 While the marriage reforms of the 1920s emphasized the equality of the spouses and gave married women individuality and status as economic citizens vis-à-vis the emerging welfare state, Danish tax legislation until 1970 denied married women any citizenship status – indeed, according to the tax laws of the early 20th century, they were either considered to be non-persons (local tax law) or they were treated like children below the age of majority (state tax law).21 In this section we highlight this apparent inconsistency in Danish family policies in the period between 1920 and 1970, focusing on the post-war period when the tax law system came under increasing attack from women’s organizations across class boundaries. The first Danish state income and capital tax law of 1903 defined the husband as the head of the household, and the husband’s priority lingered on through a major tax reform in 1970, when his position was changed to ‘main person’ of the family, to be abolished only from 1983, when a law on fiscal equality between spouses came into force. A main principle of the tax law system from 1903 until 1970 was that spouses were taxed jointly, and that the husband would get all tax reliefs: for children (1903) and for an independently employed wife (a so-called ‘wife relief’ from 1912); in addition, from 1922 the husband received a marital tax relief (a ‘housewife bonus’). In contrast to the Marriage Act of 1925, the 1922 tax law defined the husband as the family provider (Lov om Indkomst- og Formueskat 1903, 1912, 1922, Lov om Kildeskat 1967, Lov om Skattemæssig ligestilling 1982). The gendered tax law system favoured the married man at the expense of all other taxpayers, and since taxes were progressive and the wife’s earnings would be added to her husband’s, the system worked as a disincentive for married women’s gainful employment. Middle-class, educated wives were the most affected by the joint taxation of spouses, but estimations show that by the 1930s it would also have a negative effect on working-class families with average incomes (Montanari 1999). Even so, the Social Democrats were among the most ardent defenders of the system, although joint taxation of spouses was upheld unanimously by all political parties as late as 1948 and 1950, when the reports of a Tax Law Commission working since 1937 were finally published (Betænkning 1948, Skattelovskommissionens Betænkning 1950). Paradoxically, 20 This section builds on the work of Ravn 2000a, 2000b, 2005, 2008. 21 Since the wife’s enfranchisement in local elections would be forfeited if her husband had not paid due taxes, this denial of individuality and personhood also had repercussions on married women’s political citizenship.

Competing Meanings of Gender Equality


one of the main arguments for preserving the gendered tax system was made as a result of the stipulation of the marriage Acts – that is, that husband and wife were mutually responsible for family maintenance. The family was therefore regarded as an economic unit and the only ‘possible and natural’ thing to do was to impose taxes in accordance with the economic ability of this unit. Moreover, the reports stated that joint taxation of spouses seemed to be the only ‘technically practicable way’, since ‘in a farming country like Denmark’ for a long time to come the overwhelming majority of married couples were likely to be typified by male-breadwinner/female-housewife or – ‘wife assistant’ – families. According to the marriage legislation of the 1920s, the wife could fulfil her obligation to provide for the family through housework, which in family business in particular was hardly distinguishable from production. When the reports of the Tax Law Commission were published in the immediate post-war period, housework was becoming a more distinct area of work. This is the probable reason why the commission reports discussed at some length the meaning of housework: was housework productive work in which case the ‘wife relief’ was justified, since the wife’s employment outside the home meant that the family would suffer economically from paying for household chores? Or was housework consumption in which case there was no justification for the ‘wife relief’? The commission obviously found it difficult to answer such questions. If housework was production, should not single people, and especially lone mothers, be subject to a similar relief? The 1948 report suggested the abolition of the ‘wife relief’, but in the report of 1950 the commissioners reintroduced it as a better alternative to an individual taxation system. The commissioners’ difficulty with the meaning of housework seems to mirror the declining importance of family production and changing consumption patterns, which made families more dependent on market purchases – with the result that the economic value of work in the family actually decreased. It became ever harder for a wife to fulfil her obligation to provide for the family by performing household chores, particularly when married women’s participation in the labour market started to increase rapidly as a result of the economic boom of the late 1950s and the expansion of the welfare state, which increased the demand for labour. It took another ten years, however, before the tax system took account of this new development. Challenges to the Gendered Tax System The Danish Women’s Society started to protest against the gendered tax law system in 1913 and until the early 1950s continuously agitated for separate taxation of spouses and tax relief for children only. According to the Society, adults, women as well as men, had to provide for themselves and should not be provided for economically by the state through special tax reliefs. The main arguments of the Society were, first, that it was irrational and humiliating that women who before marriage were full economic citizens would, after marriage, be treated like children; second, that it was an obvious injustice that a married woman should forfeit her


Changing Relations of Welfare

right to vote in local elections in the case of her husband’s non-payment of taxes; and third, that joint taxation of spouses threatened the institution of marriage, which the state was supposed to protect and sustain. In 1945, the Society published a pamphlet (Dahlsgaard and Schmidt 1945) that added a fourth argument for the separate taxation of spouses, namely that the exemption of work in the household from taxation aggravated the tax system’s injustices towards married couples who were both gainfully employed. This argument rested on the premise that household chores still constituted an important source of family maintenance. However, the pamphlet gave rise to strong opposition within the Society, whose membership included many housewives, and even though the Social Democratic Women’s Clubs after 1945 were also in favour of separate taxation of spouses,22 nothing more happened before the beginning of the 1960s. In the early 1950s, the Danish Women’s Society for the first and only time since 1913 deviated from its principal tax policy and accepted the joint taxation system. The explicit reason given by leading members of the Society was that after an increase in the ‘wife relief’ in 1946, the existing law favoured the 85 per cent of tax-paying couples with the lowest incomes. The Society therefore accepted the notion of the family as a ‘natural’ economic unit and sacrificed gender equality for equality between family units of different classes. The 1950s was the only period during the 20th century when married women’s labour market participation decreased, relatively as well as in absolute figures (Borchorst 1980, Åmark 2006), and if a male-breadwinner/female-housewife family ever existed in Denmark, it would have been in these years around the middle of the century. But with the post-war economic boom from 1958, young women began to stay in the labour market even if they married and had children. The 1964 law on universal public day care institutions furthered this development (Borchorst 2002, 2005). The gendered tax law system did not change overnight, however. In 1961, a special Committee on Taxation of Spouses was appointed by the Minister of Finance who, for the first time ever, invited representatives of the women’s organizations to take part in official deliberations on tax issues. The Danish Women’s National Council23 was asked to recommend two members to the Committee and chose one woman to represent housewives and another to represent gainfully employed women. The second representative, who was also an active member of the Danish Women’s Society, together with the female secretary of the Federation of Tobacco Workers, recommended to the Committee by the Danish Federation of Trade Unions,24 gave 22 The stand taken by the Social Democratic Women’s Clubs was clearly voiced in their journal, Frie Kvinder, published between 1947 and 1973. 23 The Danish Women’s National Council (Danske Kvinders Nationalråd, DKN) was established in 1899 as an umbrella organization for various political, religious, agricultural, business and trade women’s associations. 24 The second Committee member recommended by the Danish Federation of Trade Unions (De samvirkende Fagforbund, DsF) joined the majority who did not take a stand on the issue of joint versus separate taxation of spouses. Internal documents of the DsF

Competing Meanings of Gender Equality


a minority statement in the Committee’s report published in 1963 (Betænkning 1973). The statement argued for separate taxation of spouses and a lighter taxation of the ‘wife assistant’, the abolition of all family tax reliefs, as well as a rise in child allowances. This position was in full accordance with the principal claims of the Danish Women’s Society since 1913; what was new, however, was the alliance between the Society and female Social Democratic trade unionists. Even if the other seven members of the Committee disagreed, women’s voices were distinct in the Committee’s common evaluation of the consequences of the existing tax legislation. In contrast to the reports of the Tax Law Commission of 1937, the Committee’s considerations in 1963 included distributive effects not only for family units (the so-called principle of economic ability), but also for married women as independent individuals (the principle of individuality). The main arguments for the minority statement were, first, that joint taxation of spouses was discriminating against married women and was ‘a penalty on marriage’, and, second, that separate taxation would encourage married women – especially well-educated women, but also women with more moderate earnings – to take up or increase their gainful employment. The principle of individuality emphasized that even if the economic consequences of the reform proposal might result in an increase in the tax burden of ordinary families – in other words, even if, as in the early 1950s, ordinary male-breadwinner/female-housewife families stood to lose from the reform – married women who worked outside the home would all benefit from it. The work of the Committee on Taxation of Spouses took place in a context of heated public debates about women’s proper place ‘outside or inside the home’. In the period between 1959 and 1965, Danish newspapers and magazines, including the periodical of the Danish Women’s Society, Kvinden og Samfundet, witnessed a clash between the interests of housewives on the one hand and wage-earning women on the other (Biza et al. 1982). It is remarkable, however, that the periodical of the Social Democratic Women’s Clubs, Frie Kvinder, unanimously supported the proposal for individual taxation of spouses. In Parliament, the few Social Liberal female MPs who had argued for separate taxation of spouses since the late 1940s were joined by a Conservative (in 1962) and – probably of considerable importance – by a Social Democratic female MP in 1963.25 And although the immediate reaction to the publication of the 1963 Committee report by the Social Democratic Minister of Finance was to vigorously defend the privileges of men and to argue for social justice as a matter of equality between married men of different classes, some six months later he reversed his attitude completely by suggesting separate taxation of spouses to be included in a reformed Pay-As-You-Go tax system. The reform, executive body show, however, that he advised the DsF to recommend the preservation of joint taxation. 25 Until 1966 women constituted less than 10 per cent of Danish MPs. For parliamentary debates on gender and tax legislation in Denmark after 1945 (see Ravn 2000b).


Changing Relations of Welfare

which was passed in Parliament in 1967 and came into force from 1970, did include separate taxation of spouses, but only in regard to married women’s earned income. The law paid some tribute to the heterosexual family unit, and especially to the male-provider/female-housewife family, by preserving the transferability between spouses of personal allowances (a new kind of ‘housewife bonus’). The 1982 law on fiscal equality between spouses upheld this rule, also preserving joint taxation on capital, including the transferability between spouses of deficits and debts. In Sweden, separate taxation of spouses was enacted in 1970 and came into effect from 1971 (Bergström 2004, Florin 1999), whereas the Norwegian Parliament had already made separate taxation optional in 1959 (Blom 1999, Lønnå 1996); earlier than any other country in Europe. The early change to the gendered tax law system in Norway shows that a strong housewife norm, built on the premise of the gender equality and gender difference of the marriage Acts and which remained a dominant norm in Norway until around 1980, could be used as a platform for claiming gender equality. From a European perspective, gender-neutral tax legislation appeared early in the Scandinavian countries, and as in the case of marriage legislation, one obvious explanation is the cooperation between women’s organizations across national borders. In 1946, 1952 and 1960, the problems of joint taxation of spouses were on the agenda of Nordic Feminist Congresses. Contradictions and Consequences The Danish tax law system, from the beginning of the 20th century until 1970 and beyond to 1983, institutionalized gender inequality and denied married women the status of economic (civil) citizens, with negative consequences for their political and social citizenship. The system constituted an apparent contradiction to the marriage reforms of the 1920s, which institutionalized a modified dual-breadwinner model. It becomes easier to understand, however, when bearing in mind that the equality of the marriage laws rested on gender difference or complementarity. The inequalities built into the modified dual-breadwinner family model were strengthened through the economic stipulations of tax legislation, especially joint taxation of spouses and marital tax relief, the effect of which was to discourage married women’s labour market participation. Both marriage and tax legislation served to bolster the heterosexual family as the main producer of welfare and the key to reproduction of the population, and the gender inequality of the tax law system was defended by politicians of all political affiliations for 60–80 years, who referred to what they saw as a more important goal, namely that of equality between family units of different classes. When, from the late 1950s, family production was in decline and consumption patterns changed, married women could no longer fulfil their obligation to provide for the family through household chores. In a context of increased demands for labour supply and political pressure from women’s organizations across class boundaries,

Competing Meanings of Gender Equality


the tax law system was finally changed from joint to individual taxation of spouses. Equality between classes was substituted by gender equality as a main goal in Danish family policies, and women’s, especially young women’s, labour market participation soon came to equal that of men’s. The tax law reform signalled the victory of a staunch dual – or universal-breadwinner model and married women’s full individualization and economic citizenship, and, together with other reforms, especially the law on universal public day care enacted in Denmark in 1964, encouraged women’s de-familialization and bore witness to a rising commitment of the state to welfare responsibilities. In spite of the increasing involvement of welfare institutions, however, the family retained the main responsibility for the care of children. Since the 1960s, maternity leave has been successively prolonged and extended to all social groups, and from the 1970s the Scandinavian welfare states took the first steps towards a universal-caregiver model by passing legislation on parental leave that granted fathers a statutory right to leave. The process of ‘re-familialization’ of men has had limited success, however, and it has not fundamentally changed the fact that women remain the principal caregivers and that the Scandinavian labour markets are the most gender segregated in the Western world, to the detriment of women. Conclusion Why did Scandinavia take an early lead in adopting family reforms? Why did a modified dual-breadwinner family model become a norm in the 1920s? It is David Bradley’s opinion that the early 20th-century family reforms in Scandinavia were the product of cultures in which social democracy was to become the dominant force (Bradley 1996, 2000). It might be more relevant, however, to talk about a specific Nordic political culture (Christiansen et al. 2006, Melby et al. 2006a, Melby et al. 2006b), characterized by negotiation and compromise between political parties representing major social groups, including women’s organizations. The secularism and individualization of women that underpinned the marriage reforms were consistent with, and might be seen as a prerequisite for, the subsequent development of the welfare state in which women were to contribute to and work for society. A feature of the Nordic countries is that they are homogenously Lutheran. One could emphasize similarities between some principles of Lutheranism and the Nordic welfare states. Two central ideas in Lutheranism – daily work as the fulfilment of God’s vocation, and a priesthood of all believers – correspond to the principles of full employment and universal social security. The idea of daily work is important for the formation of gender relations and might have created a more tolerant atmosphere for women’s work, paid as well as unpaid (Markkola 2002). The Protestant Reformation had already opened up the way for divorce, and during the 19th century a liberal divorce practice developed. Protestantism moved more vigorously in favour of women’s equality than Catholicism, even though


Changing Relations of Welfare

the Protestant ideology was far from woman friendly, actually advocating a quite restricted role for women, making it the mission of the Protestant woman to assist her husband and serve as his partner. In the marriage Acts the role of the woman was also that of a helpmate, although an educated and in some ways independent housewife (Bauberót 1993). The Nordic countries became industrialized very late. In Denmark in the late 19th century modernization was primarily of agriculture, middle-class farmers being the driving force. The agrarian household model, with the matron as its central figure, was thus to some extent reflected in the modern family law. The ‘Nordic model of marriage’ was basically a bourgeois family model, but interestingly it was not a bourgeois family in its classical liberal form, with strict polarization between private and public, state and family, husband and wife, but a modified model, allowing for equality and giving a strong status to the wife and mother (Melby et al. 2000). Comparing the gendered divisions of work and the very different welfare states of Sweden and New York State in the first half of the 20th century, Swedish historian Lena Sommestad has pointed to poverty and demographic changes as main factors behind the weak position of the male breadwinner in the Nordic countries. Sommestad argues that the weak Swedish breadwinner model grew from shared experiences of poverty and national backwardness, combined with considerable challenges to reproduction, in particular emigration and, later, declining fertility. Sweden could not afford a one-breadwinner model and this is why the state intervened in the private family sphere. Moreover, late and rapid modernization meant that a strong work ethic, especially for women, characteristic of agrarian society, was preserved in the new urban environments (Sommestad 1995, 1997). Other researchers, such as Diane Sainsbury, emphasize the influence of a strong women’s movement (Sainsbury 1999), and the cooperation between middle – and working-class women’s movements, mentioned above, is certainly a specific trait of the Nordic countries. Women are not a homogeneous group and Danish women’s organizations’ opinions on gender equality differed and shifted over time. But women’s voices were heard in the Nordic countries, and at specific moments, when their organizations joined forces over national and/or class boundaries, they were able to influence family policies. At these moments, however, gender equality was designed also to further other ends: the reforms of the 1920s served to bolster the institution of marriage as the foundation of the emerging welfare state, and the tax law reform of the 1960s was a means to secure labour supply and economic growth as the foundation of the mature welfare state. The two kinds of reform marked a fundamental change in family and gender policies: while the early marriage reform pursued the goal of gender equality within the family, the reform of tax legislation after 1945 involved married women’s ‘de-familialization’. We find the first pillars of what was later to become the welfare state from around 1900. In the 1930s concern over the decrease in the population was the reason for transforming population policy into a new social policy based on a health policy aimed at the whole population and with women working in the home as the

Competing Meanings of Gender Equality


main actors. Social policy is therefore an important but only partial element of the welfare state, which requires the integration of various policies: labour market policy, education policy, family policy, housing policy and a cultural policy. From this perspective, the classical welfare state did not come into being until after the Second World War, but important elements and their effects on family life had been established much earlier (Christiansen 2000). References Åmark, K. 2006. Women’s labour force participation in the Nordic countries during the 20th century, in The Nordic Model of Welfare: A Historical Reappraisal, edited by N.F. Christiansen et al. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 299–333. Andersen, M. and Rosenbeck, B. 2006. Ligestilling, ægteskab og religion. Kvinder, køn og forskning, No. 4, 17–31. Baubérot, J. 1993. The Protestant woman, in A History of Women in the West, Vol. IV, edited by G. Duby and M. Perrot. London: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 198–212. Beretning fra det 2. Nordiske Kvindesagsmøde i København den 10. og 11. juni 1914. 1914. Copenhagen. Bergström, V. 2004. Gender and the Swedish Income Tax System in the Post-war Period, Paper presented at the European Social Science History Conference, Berlin, 24–27, March 2004. Betænkning om Beskatningen af Indkomst og Formue m.v. 1948. Afgivet af Skattelovskommissionen, I. Del, Copenhagen: J.H. Schultz A/S. Betænkning om Ægtefællers Beskatning. 1973. Betænkning nr. 327. Biza, L.C., Lange. B.K. and Lous, E.K. 1982. Ude eller hjemme, MA dissertation. Århus: Institut for Historie, Aarhus University. Blom, I. 1999. Brudd og kontinuitet. Fra 1950 mot årtusindskiftet, in Med kjønnsperspektiv på norsk historie, edited by I. Blom and S. Sogner. Oslo: Cappelen Akademisk Forlag, 299–344. Borchorst, A. 1980. Kvinder som arbejdskraftreserve – politisk floskel eller social realitet? Århus: A. Borshorst. Borchorst, A. 2002. Danish child care policy: continuity rather than radical change, in Child Care Policy at the Crossroads: Gender and Welfare State Restructuring, edited by S. Michel and R. Mahon. New York and London: Routledge, 267–85. Borchorst, A. 2005. Nøglen i de rigtige hænder. Lov om børne- og ungdomsforsorg 1964, in 13 reformer af den danske velfærdsstat, edited by J.H. Petersen and K. Petersen. Odense: Syddansk Universitetsforlag, 133–46. Bradley, D. 1996. Family Law and Political Culture: Scandinavian Laws in Comparative Perspective, London: Sweet & Maxwell.


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Bradley, D. 2000. Family laws and welfare states, in The Nordic Model of Marriage and the Welfare State, edited by K. Melby et al. Nord 2000:27. Copenhagen: The Nordic Council of Ministers. Christiansen, N.F. 2000. What is Nordic about the Nordic welfare states? in The Nordic Model of Marriage and the Welfare State, edited by K. Melby et al. Nord 2000:27. Copenhagen: The Nordic Council of Ministers. Christiansen, N.F., Petersen, K., Edling, N. and Haave, P. (eds) 2006. The Nordic Model of Welfare: A Historical Reappraisal. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press. Craik, E. 1991. Marriage and Property. Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press. Dahlsgaard, I. 1980. Women in Denmark. Yesterday and Today. Copenhagen: Danske Selskab. Dahlsgaard, I. and Schmidt, E.I. 1945. Skat og Ægteskab. Copenhagen: Dansk Kvindesamfund. Florin, C. 1999. Skatten som befriar. Hemmafruar mot yrkeskvinnor i 1960 – talets särbeskattningsdebatt, in Kvinnor mot kvinnor. Om systerskapets svårigheter, edited by C. Florin et al. Stockholm: Norstedts Förlag, 106–35. Fraser, N. 1997a. Justice Interruptus. Critical Reflections on the ‘Postsocialist’ Condition. New York and London: Routledge. Fraser, N. 1997b. After the family wage, in Justice Interruptus: Critical Reflections on the ‘Postsocialist’ Condition, New York and London: Routledge, 41–66. Gerhard, U. 1990. Gleichheit ohne Angleichung. Frauen im Recht. Munich: Beck. Gift Kvindes Retsstilling 1908. Kvinden og Samfundet (12). Hansen, B.S. 1996. Something rotten in the State of Denmark: eugenics and the ascent of the welfare state, in Eugenics and the Welfare State: Sterilization Policy in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland, edited by G. Broberg and N. Roll-Hansen. Michigan: East Lansing, 9–76. Hernes, H.M. 1987. Welfare State and Woman Power. Oslo: Norwegian University Press. Hirdman, Y. 1994. Women – From Possibilty to Problem? Gender Conflict in the Welfare State – The Swedish Model. Research Report Series No. 3. Stockholm: The Swedish Center for Working Life. Kessler-Harris, A. 2001. In Pursuit of Equity: Women, Men, and the Quest for Economic Citizenship in 20th-Century America. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Kessler-Harris, A. 2003. In pursuit of economic citizenship. Social Politics, 10(2), 157–75. Koch, L. 1996. Racehygiejne i Danmark 1920–56. Copenhagen: Gyldendal. Koch, L. 2004. The meaning of eugenics: reflections on the government of genetic knowledge in the past and present. Science in Context, 17(3), 315–331. Kulawik, T. 2002. The Nordic model of the welfare state and the trouble with a critical perspective. Nyhedsbrev for nordisk velfærdshistorie, No.21,

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2–8. Available at: Statskundskab/Velfaerd/Nyhedsbrev/nb21.ashx [accessed 11.09.2009]. Lading, A. 1939. Dansk Kvindesamfunds Arbejde gennem 25 Aar. Copenhagen: Udgivet af Dansk Kvindesamfund. Lemche, G. 1939. Dansk Kvindesamfunds Historie gennem 40 Aar. Med tillæg 1912–1918. Copenhagen: Udgivet af Dansk Kvindesamfund. Lewis, J. 1993. Women and Social Policies in Europe. Aldershot: Edward Elgar. Lewis, J. 1997. Gender and welfare regimes: further thoughts. Social Politics, 4(2), 160–77. Lister, R. 1997. Citizenship: Feminist Perspectives. Basingstoke: Macmillan Press. Lov om Indkomst – og Formueskat til Staten af 15. Maj 1903. Lov om Indkomst – og Formueskat til Staten af 8. Juni 1912. Lov om Indkomst – og Formueskat til Staten af 10. April 1922. Lov om Ægteskabs Indgaaelse og Opløsning af 30. Juni 1922. Lov om Ægteskabets Retsvirkninger af 18. Marts 1925. Lov om opkrævning af indkomst – og formueskat for personer m.v. (Kildeskat), 31. Marts 1967. Lov om ændring af forskellige skattelove (Skattemæssig ligestilling af ægtefæller), 26. Maj 1982. Lundqvist, Å. 2008. Family policy between science and politics, in Gender Equality and Welfare Politics in Scandinavia: The Limits of Political Ambition?, edited by K. Melby et al. Bristol: The Policy Press, 85–99. Lønnå, E. 1996. Stolthet og kvinnekamp. Norsk Kvinnesaksforenings historie fra 1913. Oslo: Gyldendal. Markkola, P. 2002. Women, Lutheranism and the Nordic model, in Frihed, lighed og tryghed. Velfærdspolitik i Norden, edited by H.R. Christensen et al. Århus: Skrifter udgivet af Jysk Selskab for Historie nr. 48, 236–60. Melby, K., Pylkkänen, A., Rosenbeck, B. and Wetterberg, C.C. (eds) 2000. The Nordic Model of Marriage and the Welfare State. Nord 2000:27. Copenhagen: The Nordic Council of Ministers. Melby, K., Pylkkänen, A., Rosenbeck, B. and Wetterberg, C.C. 2001. The Nordic model of marriage, in The Nordic Countries and Europe II. Social Sciences, edited by K. Ståhlberg. Nord 2001:23. Copenhagen: The Nordic Council of Ministers, 255–80. Melby, K., Pylkkänen, A., Rosenbeck, B. and Wetterberg, C.C. 2006a. ‘Inte ett ord om kärlek’ Äktenskap och politik i Norden ca. 1850–1930. Stockholm: Makadam. Melby, K., Pylkkänen, A., Rosenbeck, B. and Wetterberg, C.C. 2006b. The Nordic model of marriage. Women’s History Review, 15(4), 651–61. Montanari, I. 1999. Från familjestöd till hemmamakastöd och barnstöd: Ekonomiskt stöd till familjer 1950–1990 i 18 länder, in Välfärdsstat i brytningstid: Historisksamhällsvetenskapliga studier om genus och klass, ojämlikhet och fattigdom, edited by A. Berge et al. Sociologisk Forskning: Supplement, 218–52.


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Chapter 4

The Institutionalization of Family and Gender Equality Policies in the Swedish Welfare State Åsa Lundqvist and Christine Roman

Introduction Family policies have a long tradition in the Scandinavian countries, from early 20th century struggles for female suffrage to latter-day gender-neutral discourses and policies in which individual rights have become disconnected from the family to a greater degree than in many other welfare states (Melby et al. 2008, Esping-Anderson 1999). Thus, state intervention in family life is strong in the Nordic region and has contributed to major changes in the experiences of both women and men, including, for example, the high numbers of working women and their concomitant economic independence, the extended use of public childcare, and gender equality policies and guidelines in working life (Borchorst and Siim 2009, Ellingsæter and Leira 2006, Leira 2002). As a result, gender equality, in policy and ideology, is commonly seen as an integral part of the Scandinavian welfare state model, covering not only women’s participation in the labour market and their economic independence, but also the way in which family life, employment and childcare have been organized and negotiated. The main aim of this chapter is to analyse why and under what circumstances changes to perceptions of gender equality and family relations have emerged, with a focus on Swedish family politics from the 1930s to the turn of the millennium. Our analysis is based on the assumption that the development of Swedish family policy, and its ambitions for gender equality, has taken place through an interplay of scientific knowledge production and political regulation, as well as being closely linked to the modernization of Swedish society. The analysis of the family has, in other words, been closely connected to the Swedish welfare model and its modernization efforts, and has been developed in a close relationship between social science research on family and gender relations and experts employed by the government (Lundqvist and Roman 2008, Rueschemeyer and Skocpol 1996). Because the chapter examines the long and complex period between 1930 and 2000, our analysis is divided into two parts. The first begins with the 1930s and ends with the late 1960s and argues that these years were marked by early attempts to emphasize individual rights, resulting in gender-neutral ideals by the


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end of the period. The second part of our analysis, from the late 1960s to the turn of the millennium, suggests that Swedish family policy has strongly emphasized individualized marriages, autonomy and economic independence. Our analysis is theoretically inspired by Nancy Fraser’s view of ‘the politics of needs interpretation’ (Fraser 1989, 1997). We argue that needs are not definitive; rather, on the contrary, various groups compete to try to establish their interpretations of what are legitimate social needs and how these should be met. As a result, there is an ongoing struggle to establish needs as political, to define them and to determine whether the state, the market or the family will address them. In this politics of needs interpretation, needs discourses function as resources to make and challenge political demands (Fraser 1989). Like Fraser, we discern three main types of needs discourses in welfare states: oppositional, reprivatization and expert. Oppositional discourses occur when earlier privatized needs are politicized by social movements. This being so, the established boundaries between ‘the private’ and ‘the political’ are challenged. An example is the women’s liberation movement’s successful campaign to transform domestic violence against women from a ‘private’ issue into a social problem in the ‘public’ domain. Reprivatization discourses occur as reactions to oppositional discourses and maintain the established boundaries between ‘public’ and ‘private’. In doing so, they oppose the politicization of a certain need, such as addressing domestic violence. Expert discourses are closely linked to knowledge-producing/using institutions, such as universities and professional organizations. These can turn politicized needs into potential objects for state intervention. Sometimes, social movements succeed in taking over or creating their own critical expert discourses and in disseminating them to the public. An expert discourse can then become a ‘bridge discourse’, which functions as an intermediary between social movements and the state (Fraser 1989: 174). We work on the hypothesis that the social sciences have been instrumental in producing such bridge discourses in the Swedish political context. In other words, we will demonstrate that the development of Swedish family policy is the result of a combination of political ambitions, social reforms and policy proposals from social scientists who have served as experts on government commissions. The empirical data for our analysis consists, above all, of reports from government commissions, which play an important part in the Swedish political system. The close relationship between science and policy is a prominent feature of the Swedish welfare model. In other words, the idea that social policy will be based on scientific results, and that researchers will be actively involved in social reform work, has been very influential. In this context, the commission system is an important institution. Historically, the government commissions have been comprised of representatives of virtually all political parties, together with various interest groups, civil servants and academic experts. The system of special commissions has, therefore, been viewed as a key institution for consensus building in Swedish politics. It has also been pointed out that, apart from their role as a

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government-controlled, political planning tool, the government commissions have functioned as an important knowledge-producing institution (Johansson 1992). 1930–1970: Family Policy, Individual Rights and Gender-neutral Ideals The period between 1930 and 1970 – that is, the time when the Swedish model was realized and the Social Democrats dominated the political arena – has been described as ‘the heyday of the commission system’ (Johansson 1992: 246, our translation). With the economic crisis of the 1970s, the collapse of Keynesian economic policy, a higher degree of bureaucratization and growing tensions between the political parties, the commission system lost some of its earlier status. Government commissions, however, still play an important role in political discourse and in the legislation process. They are appointed by the government at an early stage in the political process, and analyses and proposals are published as public reports, which are referred to the parties concerned for consideration. The views collected then form the basis for a government bill. By explicitly or implicitly diagnosing social and political problems, the government commissions thus create discursive policy frameworks (Bacchi 1999). The government commissions that have been appointed to deal with family-related questions have often comprised sociologists and other social scientists. In this way, social scientists have, to a great extent, influenced the discourses that have shaped family policy. Family Crisis: Unemployment and Declining Birth Rates A more integrated Swedish family policy took shape during the 1930s. The first step in this direction was taken as early as 1933 with the Social Housing Commission, which in 1935 led to the government introducing loans for the building of houses for large families, at the same time as a family allowance was introduced for those who lived in these houses (Olsson 1992). During the same period, discussions intensified about the measures to be taken in order to improve the situation of families with children, especially after the publication of Alva Myrdal and Gunnar Myrdal’s renowned book Kris i befolkningsfrågan [Crisis in the Population Question] (Myrdal and Myrdal 1934). In light of the growing debate on the population question and the devastating consequences of unemployment for families with children, the Population Commission was appointed in 1935. Within this commission, 17 reports were written, in which experts in different fields presented their analyses of the reasons for and the consequences of the declining birth rates, at the same time as proposals were presented for ways in which this trend might be halted. The question thus posed concerned the measures that were required to improve the living conditions of many of the country’s families with children – and thereby also to increase the birth rate (Ohlander 1991, Hirdman 1989, Hatje 1974).


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With the theories of contemporary sociological thinkers, above all William Fielding Ogburns, Ernest W. Burgess and Robert Lynd, on the family’s changing status as a starting point, most of the reports of the period outlined how the functions of the family had changed between the pre-industrial period and the organization of modern capitalist society. In this historical writing, the family and its members were assumed to be going through a crisis: one which, consequently, resulted in declining birth rates (Lundqvist 2007, Roman 2004). A main reason for this crisis was, it was claimed, the new division of labour that separated men from the home, women and children. The previous ‘multi-breadwinner model’ (this term is used in several of the reports of the 1930s) was replaced by new ideals for how the household should be organized. Thus, in this era of family crisis, a completely new ideology materialized, in which the man became the breadwinner and ‘gradually people became accustomed to industrialism’s generally widespread system in which the burden of providing for the family was transferred to just one person, the father of the family’ (SOU 1938:47: 53, our translation). In the modern family, women were assigned the role of consumer and responsibility for taking care of the children. However, it was claimed that the changed gender relations resulted in increased tensions between men and women, which further contributed to declining birth rates (SOU 1938: 47). Thus, the terms of reference given to the investigators aimed at changing the existing social and economic conditions and creating a more equal society, which, in turn, would make it easier for young men and women to marry and settle down. To support this argument, the experts of the day stressed that it was crucial that the same conditions should exist for both women and men, in the family, in the home and in the labour market. Notions of a new society were developed, in which, according to a number of very influential architects, a ‘totally new type of family’ would appear (SOU 1936:59, Asplund et al. 1931). In this new family, women would be relieved of their caring duties, mainly by society taking over responsibility for childcare. However, even if visions of gender equality were key at this time, the commissions’ proposals were aimed principally at women. An important reason for this development was the analysis, current at the time, that industrialization, in itself, created a system of male family breadwinners and female caregivers. In this context, women’s future satisfaction as women, housewives and mothers was, the experts claimed, doubtful: the existing social conditions made it difficult for women to have families, mainly because men were not taking – or were unable to take – any responsibility in the home. Moreover, what was perhaps even more of an issue, most of the care work undertaken by mothers was regarded as substandard, because many of the women were forced to work outside the home in order to contribute to providing for the family. For these reasons, the commissions’ analyses concluded that the situation of women was problematic; as a result, it was women who were the focus of the social reforms (see, for example, SOU 1936:12, 1936:15, 1938:13, 1938: 47).

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In order to halt the declining birth rates and reduce social inequality, various social reforms were proposed, of which some were implemented in practical policy. For example, improvements were made to maternity and child health care, such as the introduction of maternity and child welfare centres in the 1930s. In 1935, a means-tested child benefit was introduced and, in 1948, a universal child benefit, which was paid directly to the mother (SOU 1936:12, 1936:15, 1938: 47, 1946:5, 1946:6, 1946:23; also Bergman 2003, Bergman and Hobson 2002, Frangeur 1998, Hirdman 1998, Ohlander 1991). An active social and family policy had, thus, begun to be developed, which was to be expanded in the coming years. The negative consequences of industrialization were to be limited by, among other things, an improved social policy, within which the so-called family care policy was also to be included. The declining birth rates were now to be halted and, as a way towards accomplishing this, the sexual habits of the population were surveyed. An example of such a survey was the publication of the Population Commission’s report on the issue of sexuality (SOU 1936:59; for a contemporary analysis, see Hirdman 1989: 131ff.). The social fields that were studied and investigated during the 1930s, which included the housing situation for the urbanized working class and the importance of motherhood for women, children and the economy, were also merged in the Population Commission’s report on the issue of sexuality with the question of Sweden’s birth rate. As a result, the initial social reforms included not only the housing situation of poor groups or poor women’s need for support during pregnancy and childbirth; they were to also include the most intimate sphere of all: sexuality. In order to encourage Swedish women and men to have more children, comprehensive sex education should, according to the investigators, be carried out by public authorities and institutions. However, the reports also suggested that certain groups should actually be prevented from having children. Eugenic and medical views were discussed, together with those on physical hygiene and aspects of family psychology and family economics. With the support of the latest psychological, medical and sociological findings, governmental experts argued that they could claim that certain groups should be excluded from forming families. For example, it was proposed that poor, large families should not be encouraged to have more children; rather, they should be encouraged to practise birth control. An effective way to achieve this goal was to introduce sex education for these families, to be taught by staff at schools and care institutions (SOU 1936:59). But it was not just poor women and men who would be encouraged to practise birth control. In the reports, it was also suggested that abortion should be legalized in certain cases. For instance, abortion should be considered for older women with many children and for women who had had problems during previous pregnancies. In addition the reports referred to sterilization as a method of birth control. In discussing the question of eugenics, again based on contemporary medical, psychological and sociological research, the experts claimed that women (and later men) who, among other things, suffered from psychological and neurological


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illnesses should be prevented from having children. From this, the idea of using sterilization as a method of birth control was introduced: an idea that would later come to be implemented in practical politics (Tydén 2002, Runcis 1998, Broberg and Roll-Hansen 1996; see also the Danish sterilization policy in Chapter 3, this volume). In many respects, the picture that was being outlined, of how the modern family would be created, was a problematic one. Not only were the investigators looking for a way to consign devastating venereal diseases, poverty and exhausted mothers to the past, but in their opinion the building of the modern society required the inclusion of only strong and healthy citizens. Post-war Families and Their Problems In the period following the Second World War, measures were put in place to achieve, simultaneously, full employment, high growth, low inflation and acceptable social conditions for all citizens in Sweden. In order to realize this ambition in the most beneficial way, a raft of policies was launched: in brief, a general market-regulatory economic policy was linked to a selective labour-market policy in order to increase labour-market mobility and accelerate structural changes in the economy (Schön 2000, Benner 1997, Olsson 1992). This ambitious reform programme also included political goals for social and family reforms. Such political reforms were seen as important to the achievement of the overall goal: that is, to increase economic growth and decrease unemployment. Nevertheless, in the early post-war analysis of the family, there appears to have been a shift in attempts to change the social and economic conditions. Family policy was no longer aimed only at the issue of population growth. Instead, social justice emerged as a dominant theme in family policy discourse, together with other social and political reasoning (Lundqvist 2007). Moreover, women’s work in both the home and the labour market became an even more dominant theme during the 1940s and 1950s. This debate, however, gave rise to ambivalence regarding the ideals that surrounded the family. How should the ideal of a housewife with a male breadwinner be combined with the aim to encourage women to take paid work outside the home? (Compare the discussions on the breadwinner ideal in Britain in Chapter 2.) Some commentators – for example, Brita Åkerman, a prominent Social Democrat and also a sociologist – argued for a social policy that supported family relations and at the same time made it easier for domestic working women to stay at home (Åkerman 1994). Married women were regarded as being responsible for the well-being of families. For example, in a government commission report from 1947 on ‘home and family issues’ (SOU 1947: 46), married women were considered to be responsible for practical duties in the home as well as for a ‘uniting link within the family and as a caretaker’ (SOU 1947:46, s. 13, our translation). Thus, the experts legitimized a division of labour in families, in which women were seen as the ‘caring heads’ and men as the income providers. Theoretically,

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those who adopted this perspective were influenced by contemporary psychology and sociological studies of raising children and of the relationship between women and men in marriage (Lundqvist and Roman 2008). Other influential experts, including the economist Karin Kock and the Social Democratic intellectual Alva Myrdal, called for more ambitious labour-market and social policies; for example, an expansion of public childcare in order to support women in their combined roles in the family and in their working life (Klein and Myrdal 1957, Hatje 1999, s. 233). Thus, government commission reports in the 1940s and 1950s combined analysis of structural aspects of society, such as urbanization and the beginnings of modern capitalism, with individual and interpersonal factors. Personal and individual issues, such as sexuality, the raising of children and the relationship between women and men, were related to labour-market conditions and macroeconomic demand management. However, the definition of the ‘personal’ was rather narrow, mainly covering married women’s everyday life – but not that of men. These women were singled out as those responsible for the well-being of the family. As in earlier years, the government commissions were influenced by sociological and psychological studies of the family and sociological research; a study conducted in 1949 by two Swedish sociologists Torgny Segerstedt and Agne Lundqvist, Människan i industrisamhället [Man in Industrial Society], is an example. Such studies were echoed in the reports of several government commissions in the 1950s (see, for example, SOU 1955:29, 1957:33). Segerstedt and Lundqvist’s study departed from a classical structural-functionalist perspective on social change, which was incorporated in mainstream scientific and political discourse: industrialization had led to the emergence of a society characterized by functional differentiation, but in which individuals became more and more dependent on one another. According to Segerstedt and Lundqvist’s analysis of the consequences of industrialization, technical change had created a more complicated individual who now had to take into consideration a growing number of different aspects of life, and this created considerable uncertainty among the population. At the same time, the family continued to be a key institution in people’s lives (Segerstedt and Lundqvist 1949). Even though the stability of the family might be threatened by an erosion of values that was understood to be a consequence of industrial society, the integrating function of the family remained important. In sociological analysis of social change typical of the period, industrialization – and the development of the modern industrial society – gave rise to an increasingly differentiated society. However, while work was differentiated, at the same time, paradoxically, a harmonization of patterns of behaviour occurred; that is, the more specialized work became, the more people became dependent on the work of others, regardless of, for example, geographical location or class affiliation. The same applied to the family as a unit: the ever-clearer boundaries between (paid) work and work within the home contributed to the strengthening of family ties and


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the feeling of wanting to be part of a family. Based on this interpretation, Segerstedt and Lundqvist therefore assumed that the central importance of the family would endure in modern society, and the investigators developed this notion further. In accordance with this analysis, it was claimed in the 1957 report on family counselling that a considerable problem for modern families was the clash between traditional family values and a more democratic family structure. In contrast to patriarchal family structures, the modern marriage was based on women’s and men’s (and children’s) autonomy. An effect of this was that both men and women became ambivalent in relation to their new roles. On the one hand, men’s emotional insecurity increased when they were no longer automatically head of the family. On the other hand, women were expected to be more active and autonomous within the family, despite the fact that the childhood of most women had been characterized by subordination within the traditional patriarchal family. This, analysts claimed, resulted in an ambivalent and uncertain identity (Klein and Myrdal 1957, SOU 1957:33). And since an increasing number of women were financially independent, they could use their new-found freedom to leave unhappy marriages (which was paradoxical since women’s financial independence was seen as a way of strengthening spousal ties). In this period, the contradiction between women’s two different roles – as mothers (and responsible for the home) and as employees – also quickly became an important question, and it came to be increasingly important during the 1960s. Overall, the 1957 commission assumed that industrialization had thrown the traditional family form into crisis, in which both women and men were alienated from their traditional roles and were forced to look for a new family structure. It was also claimed that the ‘incessant talk about divorce easily leads, when there are growing disputes, to the idea that a divorce is unavoidable’ (SOU 1957:33, 30, our translation). This discourse (the ‘incessant talk’) about divorce and family social problems was regarded as a serious problem and as something that had to be changed, mainly by offering professional family counselling for families in crisis. In other words, both emotional problems and material needs would be the subject of social reforms and government interventions: the development of a social insurance system and of social services in general would be supplemented by a state-run advisory service for emotional problems. Gender-role Research and Labour Shortage Alongside an increased academic interest in the intimate relationships between men and women, the number of studies on women’s lives in the home and in the labour market increased dramatically towards the end of the 1950s and the beginning of the 1960s. This period also ushered in a new phase for the field of family policy, in which an ideological adaptation with various themes came to characterize both commissions and practical politics. The prevailing view of women as the family’s ‘head of care’ was contested, especially in the so-called gender-role debate. In its wake, the housewife–male

The Institutionalization of Family and Gender Equality Policies


breadwinner model came to be increasingly undermined, in that the ideological criticism was combined with structural demands for more labour, where housewives were regarded as a potential labour reserve (Lundqvist 2007, Klinth 2002). Moreover, the labour movement became radicalized towards the end of the 1960s and one aspect of this was the introduction of equality as a primary political objective. The long period of economic growth and increasing labour shortage during the 1960s also resulted in an increased demand for labour: married women and housewives became, together with immigrants, an increasingly important ‘reserve army’ in the labour market of the 1950s and 1960s. Women’s role in the labour market led to a heated debate about the issue of ‘equal pay’ for women and men: despite the labour shortage and a flourishing economy, women, on average, earned 30 per cent less than men, an extremely controversial issue within the labour movement (Hirdman 1998: 400). In this context, the woman’s ‘dual role’ as mother and worker was emphasized even more. The view of gender relations presented, for example, in Klein and Myrdal’s (1957) book would, however, come to be dramatically changed during the coming years. In 1961, Eva Moberg, one of the pioneers of the women’s movement, wrote ‘Kvinnans villkorliga frigivning’ [‘The conditional release of women’]. She claimed that the social framework for gender relations had to be changed if gender equality were to be achieved. Both men and women had important roles in this process, in their capacity not only as individuals but also as parents. The ability of women to bear children should not be mistaken for the ability to care: taking care of and bringing up children were tasks that would be shared by the father and the mother. If this was accomplished, men and women would be able to meet as equals in the labour market. In policy debates, it was claimed that economic growth was at risk because of the labour shortage, and young mothers were called on to enter the labour market. The debate further intensified with the publication of the anthology Kvinnors liv och arbete [Women’s Lives and Work] (Baude et al. 1962). This book signalled the beginning of the Scandinavian ‘gender-role research’. It had a considerable influence on the growing debate about gender roles. In the book, Swedish and Norwegian sociologists discussed the situation of women in the labour market and the education system. Researchers in the fields of education and psychology discussed the differences between women and men in the socialization process and the development of personality. The debate acted as an instigator of change in family policy and in the discourse on women and men, families and labour-market participation, the role of the state in regard to regulating family-related questions, and socialization patterns. It has, therefore, been claimed that the gender-role debate forced politicians and experts on the government commissions to incorporate the new ideas into the field of family policy (Dahlström 1992). Thus, the debate contributed to an ideological change in views on ‘the family’, especially regarding the gendered division of labour between family and working life (Florin 1999, Baude 1992, Backberger 1966, Moberg 1961).


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Towards a Gender-neutral Family Legislation It would, however, take until the end of the 1960s before a more gender-neutral discourse and political practice replaced traditional family policy. At that time, issues concerning women’s paid work also became important reform objectives. The guiding principle was to create both incentives for women to start earning a wage and institutional conditions to make this possible. Several major reforms, based on the principle of gender neutrality, were launched during the following decade. The 1970s have, therefore, been described as the decade when Swedish equality was institutionalized (Hirdman 1998). In the 1960s, marriage and family legislation still assumed a clear gendered division of labour, with the man as the family breadwinner and the woman as responsible for the children and the home. The increased female employment rate, the increase in divorces and the extension of social rights and benefits had, however, given rise to a growing gap between legislation and actual family patterns. Tailoring family legislation to the changed family patterns was, therefore, identified as an important political issue. Consequently, a government commission was appointed with the task of proposing changes to the provisions that regulated the relationship between married couples, divorced couples and parents and children (both before and after divorce). The terms of reference for this government commission stipulated that the amended family legislation should be based on the principle of equality. To be more precise, they decreed that spouses should be regarded as independent, autonomous people within the marriage; that marriage should be seen as a voluntary form of cohabitation between independent people; that the question of blame should be irrelevant in the case of any divorce; that unmarried fathers should be guaranteed joint custody of their children; and that the rules should, as far as possible, be neutral in relation to different types of family. Moreover, it was prescribed that the new rules would act as an instrument of reform in order to create a society in which adult women and men could take care of themselves without being dependent on relatives, and where gender equality was a reality (SOU 1972:41: 58, Romanus 1992: 30). The government commission took ten years and proposed several changes with a view to creating gender-neutral and individualized rules for marriage. It was a somewhat strange mixture of sociological structural-functionalist theory of family change and gender-role research that guided the government commission’s analyses. Consequently, a whole chapter in the main report was devoted to describing and analysing the family’s ‘function loss’ during industrialization. In the chapter, the (then) well-known account of the transition from a ‘multifunctional’ family to a companionate family based on emotional   Individualized tax system (1971); divorce became easier (1974); parental insurance (1974); the right to abortion on demand (1975); every municipality was duty bound to put in place a plan for the expansion of public childcare (1976); the right to reduced working hours for parents with small children (1979).

The Institutionalization of Family and Gender Equality Policies


ties was repeated. The investigators were also influenced by gender-role theories that stressed the importance of equality, female labour-market participation, and economic independence. It can, in fact, be said that the gender-role researchers of the 1960s laid a theoretical foundation for the political efforts to construct a new type of gender-neutral and egalitarian family. 1970–2000: Family Policy, the Politicization of Childcare and Gender Power Relations Few children had a public childcare place at the end of the 1960s. During the 1970s, childcare was therefore also identified as a key political issue (Karlsson 1996: 288). Unlike previously, when childcare was seen as a ‘women’s issue’ (Lindvert 2002: 122), it now came to be regarded as an issue that affected both men and women. In other words, the new message was that both fathers and mothers were responsible for looking after their children. Interpretation of needs was also changed. Whereas in the 1950s and early 1960s childcare had been discussed mainly in terms of the needs of the labour market, in subsequent reports great importance was also attached to the needs of the child, to educational aspects and to equality. A key argument was that it was in the interest of children to expand public childcare. To be more precise, the experts and politicians called into question whether families in which the mother was a ‘housewife’ were particularly beneficial to children’s development (SOU 1979: 57, 1975: 30). In this way, the earlier dominant view that small children should have their mothers at home was rejected. In a number of reports, this ‘truth’ was turned completely upside down. Experts argued that the child’s psychological development could suffer as a result of spending too much time at home with an isolated mother. The concept of ‘quality time’ was introduced to demonstrate that what was most important was not the number of hours the child and mother spent together, but the quality of their time together. Moreover, public childcare was discussed in terms of a ‘love resource’ for children. The argument was that children, by receiving care and love from well-trained nursery school teachers, would not be completely dependent on their parents. Furthermore, public childcare was regarded as having the potential to create more democratic individuals, as well as to develop every individual child’s potential. To support their arguments,   It is interesting, when reflecting on the interplay between policy and the social sciences, that this introductory chapter is almost identical to a chapter in a Swedish university textbook on family sociology from 1965. This latter chapter is written by the sociologist Jan Trost (1965), who was also appointed as an expert on the above-mentioned commission. The sociological ‘theory of the family’s function loss’ was a guide for descriptions of the changed family patterns at the end of the 1970s.   A further argument put forward in the 1960s was that public childcare counteracts social differences between children (Jonson 2004: 101).


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the commissions’ experts referred, time and again, to sociological and socialpsychological research. Their supposition that a strict gender-role division would stunt the child’s psychological development was, they claimed, based on ‘new scientific findings’ and ‘gender-role research’ (SOU 1981:25: 16, 1979:57). The new experts thus wanted to show that the previously dominant view that mothers were absolutely vital to their children was a myth. The expansion of public childcare was regarded as a necessary, but insufficient, measure. To make it easier for parents to combine their work with bringing up their children, it was proposed that the existing maternity allowance should be expanded in the form of a gender-neutral parental insurance. A main argument was that parents had to be able to be at home with their children when children were very small and when they were ill. At the same time, it was stressed in the report that such a government subsidy had to be designed so that it did not place obstacles in the way of women working. Much space was devoted to discussing how an extended parental insurance could be compatible with equality. The authors were careful to point out that the rules would not prevent fathers from staying at home with their children. Shared parental leave was regarded as both a basis for the realization of equality and the best solution from the children’s point of view (SOU 1972:34: 224). Facilitating close relationships between fathers and their children was, therefore, viewed as important. Here, the experts referred again to sociological gender-role research, indicating that too great a maternal influence was to the detriment of the child. Just a few years earlier, political discussions had been about compensation for the mother (Karlsson 1996: 267–8). The commission’s proposal to place fathers and mothers on an equal footing, therefore, signified an important change in Swedish family policy. Ever since then, the conflict between work and family life has officially been regarded as a problem that affects men and women alike. The emphasis on children needing their fathers also indicated an important shift in the ideological construction of fatherhood. Thus, the commission decided to design a gender-neutral parental insurance. Yet, at the same time, it anticipated the risk that, for a long period into the future, it would be women who took parental leave. The commission’s solution was to limit the extension of parental insurance. Seven months was regarded as a reasonable period that would not hamper women’s chances of finding work in the labour market (SOU 1972:34).  In 1976, a law was passed that made every municipality duty bound to have a plan for the expansion of public childcare. The requirements were to have been met ten years later (SOU 1979:57). Despite this goal not being achieved, the expansion of public childcare accelerated in the 1980s and continued to do so in the 1990s (Jonson 2004: 101). Towards the end of the 1990s, after the economic recession, which hit families with children hard, the government established that public childcare would be in the child’s best interest. The conclusion was that every child had the right to a public childcare place and that nobody should be excluded due to excessive fees or because the child’s parents were unemployed or on parental leave (Proposition 1999/2000: 129).

The Institutionalization of Family and Gender Equality Policies


Just a few years later the difficulties parents had combining paid work with childcare came to be identified as an acute problem. One solution proposed by the commission at the time was to extend parental insurance. Another was to make it possible for parents with small children to reduce their working hours. The argument was that parents needed to spend more time with their children and that children must not spend too many hours at nursery school (SOU 1975:62: 12; see also SOU 1978:39: 74). These arguments could be interpreted as a strategy to privatize childcare once again (from public institutions to the family). The commission, however, suggested that the proposed extension to parental insurance should be given quotas with mothers not being allowed to use up more than seven of the total number of months. This idea was never realized because of opposition from the ruling Social Democratic Party although the Social Democratic Women’s Association supported it (Karlsson 1996: 292–3). Instead, during the years that followed, parental insurance was extended several times without any quotas being introduced. From Gender Neutrality to Gender Power Gender-role research played an important part in shaping the Swedish equality discourse. With the help of this, previously privatized needs, as well as childcare, were transformed into legitimate political questions. As a result, established boundaries between ‘the private’ and ‘the political’ were challenged. However, the needs were, to a large extent, gender neutrally formulated in terms of ‘the child’s need’, ‘the parents’ need’ or ‘everybody’s need’ for equality (Florin and Nilsson 2000). The differences in men’s and women’s living conditions largely took a back seat but, over the coming decades, this gender-neutral discourse was fiercely challenged. A commission appointed to identify the equality situation in Sweden drew attention to this discursive break (SOU 1979:89, 1982:18). The commission’s reports contained critical assessments of the equality policy pursued during the 1970s. The reason for this was that the commission had revealed that women still shouldered responsibility for the home and the family to the detriment of their position in working life and their life situation in general. The investigators   To end gender segregation in the labour market was identified by the commission as the most important political task, and the measures proposed were almost exclusively aimed at working life (SOU 1982:18). This demonstrates a change in Swedish equality policy. During the 1980s, focus shifted from gender relations in the family to gender relations in working life. Hence, several government commissions were appointed to analyse gender divisions in working life during this decade, while gender relations in the family were largely neglected. This trend corresponded to the path taken by Swedish gender research, in which earlier focus on family relationships shifted to a focus on gender relations in the labour market. The previously mentioned discursive shift was also observed in the government commissions that focused on gender relations in working life.


Changing Relations of Welfare

summarized that, seen from a woman’s perspective, the equality policy had not succeeded particularly well. They also criticized the gender-neutral laws and regulations that had come into force, because these did not take into consideration that actual negative discrimination resulted in women’s means of support and influence being considerably less than men’s (SOU 1982:18). The commission’s relatively limited confidence in the equality policy can, partly, be explained by the changed historical context. The commissions appointed in the 1960s had proposed reforms to turn single-earner families into dual-earner families. This was, to a large extent, realized 15 years later. Now it was time to analyse under which conditions the changes had been carried out and to what extent equality had really been achieved. Moreover, there was a women’s movement, and increasing research into gender, which turned the spotlight on gender power relations and emphasized that women’s and men’s interests are not always the same. That feminist perspectives on the gender division in society quickly made a mark on the political discourse is clear in both the above-mentioned reports. Not only did the investigators make the needs of women the focus. For the first time, men’s responsibility for the existing inequality was brought to the fore. Consequently, the commission pointed out that, by shirking their responsibility for the home and the child, men had contributed to the lack of equality. Women’s confinement to child care and inferior status in working life, the commission summarized, stemmed, to a considerable extent, from men’s lack of involvement in the family chores (SOU 1979:89: 31). At the same time, the economic and social value of women’s unpaid work in the home was strongly emphasized. Such interpretations were also very much in line with ongoing feminist discussions on the importance of housework (Molyneux 1979, Oakley 1974). Thus, men as a group were now held responsible for women’s inferior position in the labour market. It was because men had not been actively involved in childcare and housework that women had not achieved equality with them. In the 1980s, another public report coined the term ‘the in-principle man’ to describe the discrepancy between the attitudes of Swedish men and their actions. Despite many men having a positive – in principle – attitude towards parental leave, there were, still, only a few who took advantage of the opportunity to stay at home with their children. The government commission’s prediction in 1972 (SOU 1972:34) had therefore come true: it was predominantly women who took parental leave. Men’s lack of involvement in housework and with children also had as a consequence that politicians were criticized for paying lip service to the goal of equality in the home. In reality, they had not, the critics felt, done particularly much to persuade men to stay at home with their children. The wording of the parental insurance was used as an example. Although this certainly made it formally possible for men to stay at home with their children, it had, in practice, helped to reproduce gender differences in the lives of men and women (Åström 1992, Landby Eduards 1986, Widerberg 1981, 1986).

The Institutionalization of Family and Gender Equality Policies


An overall conclusion is that the optimism that characterized previous commissions increasingly turned to distrust during the 1980s. In The Study of Power and Democracy in Sweden (SOU 1990:44), the equality policy was subjected to further criticism. In one of the chapters in the main report, the historian Yvonne Hirdman presented her theory of the gender system, according to which gender inequality is reproduced by two inherent ‘logics’ in that system: the male norm and gender segregation (SOU 1990:44). Hirdman’s critical evaluation was that the equality policy of the 1970s had helped to reproduce the gender system by moving women from the home to a female-dominated public sector, where they were subordinated to a male norm and male control (SOU 1990:44: 93). Her theory of the gender system and its two inherent logics would soon have an important influence in political circles. Further criticism was presented by a commission appointed to describe and analyse the distribution of economic power and resources between women and men (SOU 1998:6). This so-called Commission of Women’s Power analysed the gender distribution of economic resources and power in the labour market, the family and the welfare state. The studies carried out by the researchers showed that Sweden, at the turn of the millennium, was still a society in which women earned and owned less than men, had a lower status and less power and took much greater responsibility for childcare and housework. In summary, it can be said that earlier focus on gender roles had been replaced by a perspective that observed power relations between men and women. This gender power perspective was introduced by feminist researchers in a way reminiscent of the way in which sociologists previously developed and highlighted gender-role theory (Klinth 2002). Whereas the gender-role theory had functioned as a bridge discourse in the 1970s, certain versions of feminist theory were given that role during the following two decades. Research into men’s violence against women also played this bridging role. Prior to the 1990s, assaulting women was a relatively marginalized question in Swedish equality policy, but it was put onto the political agenda when the new commission was appointed at the beginning of the 1990s (SOU 1995:60: 3). Feminist discourse was clearly reflected in political discussions when the issue of men’s violence against women was formulated in terms of gender and power (Wendt Höjer 2002). The commission established that men’s violence against women was closely linked to issues of equality and that it could be explained by the historically unequal power relations between men and women. With reference to feminist research, the commission interpreted this violence as a manifestation of a male sexuality that was focused on conquest and domination and on proving its own masculinity. Commissions and their Transformations An important transformation in the government commissions must be highlighted. The 1970s was the decade when equality was institutionalized in Sweden; that is, during this time the government commissions laid the foundations for a number


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of costly welfare reforms. This was partly due to the decline in economic growth and the increasing budget deficit, neither of which was a feature of the coming decades. In fact, the commissions appointed during the 1980s and 1990s proposed few measures to increase equality within families. In this way, the relationship between policy and academic discourse was altered. Instead of acting as ‘social engineers’, social scientists came, if anything, to assume the role of ‘critical voices’. This transformation does not mean that academic discourses lost their influence over policy. Gender research clearly helped to change political perspectives on equality. For example, a written communication from the Social Democratic Government at the end of the 1990s stated that equality is about destroying the existing social structure, wherein men are the norm and women the exception, that men are superior and women inferior, and men have considerable power and women little (written communication from the Government 1999/2000:24: 5, Regeringens skrivelse). The approach was obviously inspired by Hirdman’s gender system theory, which was also described as an important tool in the equality policy of the 1990s (Jämt och ständigt [Always and Constantly] 2003). Thus Swedish family policy became more interventionist in that two months of parental insurance were earmarked for the father, the so-called ‘months of paternity leave’. When the first month of paternity leave was introduced in 1994, the minister responsible argued that the gendered division of labour was a part of a gender system that was based on men’s structural and symbolic superiority (Klinth 2002: 332). In other words, he referred to feminist theory to support the position that the decision of parents to take parental leave could not be seen as totally a private issue. The aim of promoting equality was also a main argument when the second month of paternity leave was introduced in 2002 (Proposition 2000/01:44: 25). Discourses other than the feminist have also influenced the equality policy. For example, as in other countries, a men’s movement called for a greater right for men to have custody of their children after divorce. The so-called Fathers’ Group, which, in 1995, published a public report that caused considerable debate, can be seen as an expression of this (Ds 1995: 2). At the heart of the report was the argument that, as fathers, men were discriminated against, a claim that was substantiated by the fact that mothers were often given custody of the children in cases of dispute (Hobson 2004). In the mid-1990s, a government commission, appointed to examine questions of custody and relationships between parents and children, published its report (SOU 1995:79). This report stressed that fathers have a central role to play in the development of children. In light of the principle of ‘the child’s best interest’, the commission came to the conclusion that joint custody after a divorce should be  Another argument was that the child should be helped to create a close relationship with both its parents.

The Institutionalization of Family and Gender Equality Policies


employed as often as possible. It proposed that the court should have the authority to award joint custody in the event of a dispute, as well as being able to decide whether the child should live with the father or the mother. At the same time as feminist perspectives on equality have influenced political discourse, biological fathers have been given new rights as a result of the ideology that children, after divorce, need their fathers, and the emphasis placed on joint custody by the courts. Changing ideologies of motherhood and fatherhood, and of gender relations more broadly, thus continue to shape family policy in complex and contradictory ways. Conclusion The argument, as presented by experts and later by politicians, concerning the way in which the economic and social situation of families is to be transformed has, as we have discussed, changed over time. One attempt to interpret this development includes many interacting aspects, such as the development of the labour market, social and political reforms and the interplay between social organizations and the state, as well as social science studies. Establishing a driving force in this complex pattern is, however, complicated. It can be claimed that the changing assumptions within social theory largely follow the development of the labour market. Nevertheless, there is one aspect that seems to stand out more clearly than others: that politicians’ belief in science as an ‘objective force’ was a key factor in the formulation of early Swedish family policy. As a consequence, a coalition between the state and the government-appointed experts appears to have been an important factor in the shaping of new family ideals as well as gender and class relations. Since the late 1970s, researchers appear to have lost their role as ‘social engineers’ in family policy. Nevertheless, in their new role as ‘critical voices’ they continue to influence political discourse; that is, the social sciences still function as bridge discourses between social movements and the state. References Åkerman, B. 1994. 88 år på 1900 – talet. Bland vänner och idéer. Stockholm: T. Fischer & Co. Asplund, G., Gahn, W., Markelius, S., Paulsson, G., Sundahl, E., Åhrén, U. 1931. Acceptera. Stockholm: Tiden. Åström, G. 1992. Fasta förbindelser – Om välfärdsreformer och kvinnors välfärd, in Kontrakt i kris, edited by G. Åström and Y. Hirdman. Stockholm: Carlsson. Bacchi, C. 1999. Women, Policy and Politics: The Construction of Policy Problems. London: Sage. Backberger, B. 1966. Det förkrympta kvinnoide alet. Stockholm: Albert Bonniers förlag.


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Baude, A. 1992. ‘Inledning’, in Visionen om jämställdhet, edited by A. Baude. Stockholm: SNS Förlag, 9–17. Baude, A., Brun-Gulbrandsen, S., Dahlström, E., Holmberg, P., Liljeström, R., Thorsell, S., Thyberg, S., and Tiller, P.O. 1962. Kvinnors liv och arbete. Svenska och norska studier av ett aktuellt samhällsproblem. Stockholm: Studieförbundet näringsliv och samhälle. Benner, M. 1997. The Politics of Growth: Economic Regulation in Sweden 1930– 1994. Lund: Arkiv. Bergman, H. 2003. Att fostra till föräldraskap. Barnavårdsmän, genuspolitik och välfärdsstat 1900–1950. Stockholm: Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis. Bergman, H. and Hobson, B. 2002. Compulsory fatherhood: the coding of fatherhood in the Swedish welfare state, in Making Men into Fathers: Men, Masculinities and the Social Politics of Fatherhood, edited by B. Hobson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 92–125. Borchorst, A. and Siim, B. 2009. Women-friendly policies and state feminism. Theorizing Scandinavian gender equality. Feminist Theory, 9(2), 207–24. Broberg, G. and Roll-Hansen, N. 1996. Eugenics and the Welfare State: Sterilization Policy in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press. Dahlström, E. 1992. “Debatten om kön och familj I svensk efterkrigstid”, in Kvinnors och mäns liv och arbete, edited by Acker, J. et al. Stockholm: SNS förlag. Ds. 1995:2. Stockholm: Fritzes. Ellingsæter, A.L. and Leira, A. 2006. Politicizing Parenthood in Scandinavia: Gender Relations in Welfare States. Bristol: The Policy Press. Esping-Andersen, G. 1999. Social Foundations of Postindustrial Economies. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Florin, C. 1999. Skatten som befriar. Hemmafruar mot yrkeskvinnor i 1960 – talets särbeskattningsdebatt, in Kvinnor mot kvinnor Om systerskapets svårigheter, edited by C. Florin et al. Stockholm: Norstedts, 106–36. Florin, C. and Nilsson, B. 2000. ‘Något som liknar en oblodig revolution …’ Jämställdhetens politisering under 1960 – och 70 – talen. Umeå: Umeå Universitet. Frangeur, R. 1998. Yrkeskvinna eller makens tjänarinna. Striden om yrkesrätten för gifta kvinnor i mellankrigstidens Sverige. Lund: Arkiv. Fraser, N. 1989. Unruly Practices: Power, Discourse and Gender in Contemporary Social Theory. Cambridge: Polity Press. Fraser, N. 1997. Justice Interruptus: Critical Reflections on the ‘Postsocialist’ Condition. New York and London: Routledge. Hatje, A.-C. 1974. Befolkningsfrågan och välfärden. Debatten om familjepolitik och nativitetsökning under 1930 – och 1940 – talen. Stockholm: Allmänna förlaget. Hatje, A.-C. 1999. Från treklang till triangeldrama. Barnträdgården som ett kvinnligt samhällsprojekt under 1880–1940 – talen. Lund: Historiska media.

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Hirdman, Y. 1989. Att lägga livet tillrätta. Studier i svensk folkhemspolitik. Stockholm: Carlssons. Hirdman, Y. 1998. Med kluven tunga. LO och genusordningen. Stockholm: Atlas. Hobson, B. 2004. Pappavänligt samhälle, in Framtiden i samtiden. Könsrelationer i förändring i Sverige och omvärlden, edited by C. Florin and C. Bergqvist, Stockholm: Institutet för framtidsstudier, 84–107. Johansson, J. 1992. Det statliga kommittéväsendet: kunskap, kontroll, konsensus. Stockholm: Stockholm University. Jonson, J.O. 2004. Förskola för fördelade?, in Familj och arbete – vardagsliv i förändring, edited by M. Bygren et al. Stockholm: SNS Förlag, 90–122. Karlsson, G. 1996. Från broderskap till systerskap. Det socialdemokratiska kvinnoförbundets kamp för inflytande och makt i SAP. Lund: Arkiv. Klein, V. and Myrdal, A. 1957 Kvinnans dubbla roller. Stockholm: Barnängens Förlag. Klinth, R. 2002. Göra pappa med barn. Den svenska pappapolitiken 1960–95. Umeå: Boréa. Landby Eduards, M. 1986. Kön, stat och jämställdhetspolitik. Kvinnovetenskaplig tidskrift, 6 (3), 4–15. Leira, A. 2002. Working parents and the welfare state. Family Change and Policy Reform in Scandinavia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Lindvert, J. 2002. Feminism som politik. Sverige och Australien 1960–1990. Umeå: Boréa. Lundqvist, Å. 2007. Familjen i den svenska modellen. Umeå: Boréa. Lundqvist, Å. and Roman, C. 2008. The construction of Swedish family policy. Journal of Family History, 33(2), 216–236. Melby, K., Ravn, A.-B. and Carlsson Wetterberg, C. 2008. Gender Equality and Welfare Politics in Scandinavia: The Limits of Political Ambition? Bristol: The Policy Press. Moberg, E. 1961/1992. “Kvinnans villkorliga frigivning”, in Visionen om jämställdhet, edited by A. Baude et al. Stockholm: SNS förlag. Molyneux, M. 1979. Beyond the domestic labour debate. New Left Review, 116, 3–27. Myrdal, A. and Myrdal, G. 1934. Kris i befolkningsfrågan. Stockholm: Bonnier. Oakley, A. 1974. The Sociology of Housework. New York: Pantheon Books. Ohlander, A.-S. 1991. The invisible child? The struggle for a Social Democratic family policy in Sweden, 1900–1960, in Creating Social Democracy: A Century of the Social Democratic Labour Party in Sweden, edited by K. Misgeld, K. Molin and K. Åmark. Philadelphia: Pennsylvania University Press, 213–236. Olsson, S. 1992. Social Policy and Welfare State in Sweden. Lund: Arkiv. Proposition 1997/98:7. Vårdnad, boende och umgänge. Proposition 1999/2000:118. Underhållsstöd till växelvis boende. Proposition 1999/2000: 129. Maxtaxa och allmän förskola m.m. Proposition 2000/01: 44. Föräldraförsäkring och föräldraledighet. Regeringens skrivelse 1999/2000. Jämställdhetspolitiken inför 2000 – talet.


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Regeringens skrivelse 2002/03:140. Jämt och ständigt – Regeringens jämställdhetspolitik med handlingsplan för mandatperioden. Roman, C. 2004. Familjen i det moderna. Sociologiska sanningar och feministisk kritik. Malmö: Liber. Romanus, G. 1992. Ett nätverk för jämställdhet, in Visionen om jämställdhet, edited by A. Baude, Stockholm: SNS Förlag, 24–39. Rueschemeyer, D. and Skocpol, T. (eds) 1996. States, Social Knowledge, and the Origins of Modern Social Policies. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Runcis, M. 1998. Steriliseringar I folkhemmet. Stockholm: Ordfront Förlag. Schön, L. 2000. En modern svensk ekonomisk historia. Tillväxt och omvandling under två sekel. Stockholm: SNS Förlag. Segerstedt, T. and Lundqvist, A. 1949. Människan i industrisamhället. Arbetslivet. Stockholm: SNS Förlag. SOU 1936:12. Betänkande angående förlossningsvården och barnmorskeväsendet samt förebyggande mödra – och barnavård. Avgivet av befolkningskommittén. SOU 1936:15. Betänkande angående moderskapspenning och mödrahjälp. SOU 1936:59. Betänkande i sexualfrågan. Avgivet av befolkningskommittén. SOU 1938:13. Betänkande angående förvärvsarbetande kvinnors rättsliga ställning vid äktenskap och barnsbörd. Avgivet av befolkningskommittén. SOU 1938:47. Betänkande ang. gift kvinnas förvärvsarbete mm. avgivet av kvinnoarbetskommitténs betänkande. SOU 1946:5. Betänkande om barnkostnadernas fördelning med förslag angående allmänna barnbidrag m.m.. Avgivet av 1941 års befolkningsutredning. SOU 1946:6. Betänkande om barnkostnadernas fördelning med förslag angående allmänna barnbidrag m.m.. Avgivet av 1941 års befolkningsutredning. Bilagor. SOU 1946:23. Socialvårdskommitténs betänkande XII: Utredning och förslag angående moderskapsbidrag. SOU 1947:46. Betänkande angående familjeliv och hemarbete. Avgivet av utredningen för hem – och familjefrågor. SOU 1951:15. Daghem och förskolor. Betänkande om barnstugor och barntillsyn. SOU 1952:38. Hemhjälp. Bostadskollektiva kommitténs betänkande. SOU 1955:29. Samhället och barnfamiljerna. 1954 års familjeutredning. SOU 1957:33. Allmän familjerådgivning. SOU 1972:34. Familjestöd. Betänkande avgivet av Familjepolitiska kommittén. SOU 1972:41. Familj och äktenskap 1. Betänkande avgivet av Familjesakkunniga. SOU 1975:30. Barnens livsmiljö. Del 1. SOU 1975:62. Förkortad arbetstid för småbarnsföräldrar. Betänkande avgivet av Familjestödsutredningen. SOU 1978:39. Föräldraförsäkring. Betänkande avgivet av Familjestödsutredningen. SOU 1979:57. Barnomsorg – behov, efterfråga, planeringsunderlag. Betänkande avgivet av Planeringsgruppen för barnomsorg.

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SOU 1979:89. Kvinnors arbete. Om hemarbetande kvinnors situation, kvinnor försörjning, barns omsorg och mäns delaktighet i det oavlönade hemarbetet. En rapport från Jämställdhetskommittén. SOU 1981:25. Bra daghem för små barn. SOU 1982:18. Förvärvsarbete och föräldraskap. Åtgärdsförslag från Jämställdhetskommittén. Betänkande avgivet av Jämställdhetskommittén. SOU 1990:44. Demokrati och makt i Sverige. Maktutredningens huvudrapport. Betänkande avgivet av Maktutredningen. SOU 1995:60. Kvinnofrid. Huvudbetänkande avgivet av Kvinnovåldskommissionen. SOU 1995:79. Vårdnad, boende och umgänge. Betänkande avgivet av Vårdnadstvistutredningen. SOU 1998:6. Ty makten är din … Myten om det rationella arbetslivet och det jämställda Sverige. Betänkande avgivet av Kvinnomaktutredningen. Trost, J. 1965. Allmänt om familjen, in Familjen i samhället, edited by G. Karlsson and J. Trost. Stockholm: Svenska Bokförlaget/Norstedts. Tydén, M. 2002. Från politik till praktik. De svenska steriliseringslagarna 1935– 1975. Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis, Stockholm Studies in History 63. Wendt Höjer, M. 2002. Rädslans politik. Våld och sexualitet i den svenska demokratin. Malmö: Liber. Widerberg, K. 1981. Sverige – gammalt patriarkat i ny förklädnad. Kvinnovetenskaplig tidskrift, 2(3), 6–25. Widerberg, K. 1986. Har kvinnoforskning med jämställdhetspolitik att göra? Kvinnovetenskaplig tidskrift, 6(3), 36–47.

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Chapter 5

Paradoxes of Gender and Marital Status in mid-20th Century British Welfare Janet Fink and Katherine Holden

Introduction This chapter considers the significance of marital status for exploring the relationship between family, gender and social policy in Britain through the first half of the 20th century. It takes as its starting point the ways in which family life and the meanings of familial relationships were understood in 20th century legislation and policy making through the breadwinner husband, dependent wife and children. The strength of the male breadwinner model in the gendered constitution and allocation of family responsibilities in British law, policy and practice is, therefore, a core feature of our discussion. However our primary concern is with the effects of such gendered understandings of family responsibilities for single women whose ties of intimacy and affection were located outside the nuclear family unit and whose caring and financial obligations were not embedded in the marital contract (Davidoff et al. 1999, Fink and Holden 1999). Here it is important to note that singleness is a large and diverse category, comprising individuals with multiple identities and constituting different personal and professional relationships to the nuclear family (Holden 2007). Single childless women were, for example, often employed in the interwar years as childcare experts, working with married and unmarried mothers and their children as well as influencing the state’s development of child care policy and practice. Such women could also have financial obligations, as daughters, towards elderly parents in the same way that single men who remained in the family home had to their parents as sons. Single men and women, as brothers and sisters, might establish quite particular caring or financial responsibilities towards each other or towards married siblings and their children. Single women with children born outside marriage would have to balance childcare responsibilities as mothers with those of being the sole breadwinner in their family unit. Conversely men in Britain who fathered children outside marriage had few or no legal responsibilities towards their illegitimate child and often successfully avoided making any financial contribution to their care. As we will illustrate the male breadwinner model was not only central to political debates and policy making around work, welfare and family life through this period but its influence intensified and impacted more sharply upon single


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women and unmarried mothers during times of social and economic stress and hardship. We consider, therefore, the ways in which welfare policy and practice shape understanding and experience of familial responsibilities outside marriage through four key moments in the 20th century where marital status and the public legitimization of family practices, sexual relations and gendered norms of employment were the subject of particular tensions and ambiguities. This case study approach has also been adopted because it ensures that the very specific economic, political and demographic contexts which shape policy and practice can be afforded appropriate levels of analysis. Moreover such an approach provides the opportunity to bring together a range of empirical evidence through which to examine how the binaries of married and single women were constructed in the evolution of the British welfare state during the first half of the 20th century. The sharp economic slump in the years following the First World War resulted in extensive unemployment amongst both insured and uninsured workers and forced the government to provide welfare benefits for families on an unprecedented scale. This is the context for the first strand of our discussion, which focuses upon the contested nature of pay and welfare benefits in the 1920s. The fact that welfare benefits were targeted principally at men and frequently refused to women was not unconnected with the First World War and the return of a generation of men, in many cases shell-shocked and disabled, expecting to be restored to their homes, families and employment. The popular perception that women had pushed men off to fight and then stepped into their jobs shaped a political determination to (re)assert the status of the male breadwinner through policies and practices which discouraged women’s employment and which ensured husbands and fathers received high enough wages or benefits to maintain their wives and children. In such ways women who had no husbands to support them were disadvantaged, both in the workplace and by the welfare system, and there emerged what some historians have identified as a crisis in gender relations during the 1920s, manifested in part through the vigorous defence of the male breadwinner across all levels of society. Our second strand in this chapter focuses on the Spinsters’ Pension Campaign, within the context of the Depression in 1930s’ Britain, which witnessed widespread anxieties about the effects of poverty on the nuclear family and a perceived challenge to the status of the male breadwinner because of growing unemployment. The Depression particularly affected families living in areas of traditional heavy industries in the North of England, Wales and Scotland and it was as a result of such high levels of male unemployment in these areas, together with a determination to keep men in work by employers, trade unions and government alike, that working women were increasingly discriminated against. The status and authority of men rested heavily on being able to support a family and there was a reluctance to support measures that either gave women a degree of financial independence or acknowledged that they might have family responsibilities to support or care for dependants. This assumption was particularly problematic for older single women who, in this period of severe economic depression, were losing

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the right to a contributory pension because of unemployment, illness or giving up paid work to look after elderly parents. Through these two strands we illustrate how, following the carnage of the First World War, a generation of women, many of whom remained single (see Table 5.1), were particularly vulnerable to the inequities of both gender and marital status in Britain’s welfare system. The Second World War and the years that immediately followed it are the context for the third and fourth strands of our discussion. Through these we examine how the moral norms and values attached to marital status and the nuclear family Table 5.1

Single (unmarried) women and men in the population by age in thousands, 1911–1951*









Single Single men women






















































Women Single men

Single women




Women Single Single men women


Women Single men

Single women























































* These figures have been collated from the Census of 1911, 1921, 1931 and 1951.

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in policy making were as significant for single women as assumptions about the gendered nature of employment and family responsibilities. The Second World War was considered by church leaders, politicians and the media to have provoked a crisis in marital relations and family life. Figures show that illegitimate births soared during the war years (see Table 5.2) with, it was estimated, at least half of all illegitimate children being born to married women in some towns. The increase in venereal disease among both the armed services and the civilian population also increased alarmingly (Haste 1992). And within ten years, the number of divorce petitions rose from 5,750 in 1937 to 48,501 in 1947, with 71 per cent of divorces being granted during 1947 on the grounds of adultery (Philips 1991, McGregor 1957). Moreover there were growing fears about the country’s falling birth rate and a Royal Commission was set up in 1944 to report on the country’s population. Its findings were not published, however, until 1949 when anxieties about the birth rate had been somewhat assuaged by the post-war baby boom. Post-war society and policy making were marked, therefore, by a determination to restore the moral, emotional and material stability of the nuclear family and, as a result of these aims, the Beveridge Report of 1942 with its focus on the married couple – a ‘team’ of breadwinner husband and dependent housewife – was enormously influential. The centrality of marriage in the definition and regulation of rights to welfare benefits was thus deeply embedded in Britain’s Table 5.2

Illegitimate live births (1940–1947) England and Wales* No. of illegitimate births

Per 1,000 single and widowed women

6 yrs 1934–1939





























6yrs 1940–1945

* Registrar General’s Statistical Review of England and Wales for the Year 1949, Tables, Part II, Civil (pp. 7–8). As statistics for Scotland were collected differently, these figures do not represent the total number of illegitimate births in Britain.

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post-war welfare state. Married mothers were afforded not only statutory welfare benefits through policy reforms but also, from wider society, a moral superiority over mothers who were bringing up children alone. This did not mean that married women were supported by the state with resources to help them balance their roles as wife and worker. It was rather that married men continued to be aided by the state in the maintenance of their families, through the tax and welfare systems (see Chapter 2). Tax allowances, benefit rates and the organization of the national insurance scheme operated to support the nuclear family through the male breadwinner with the result that women, and especially single women and unmarried mothers, had few resources and little support with which to reconcile the competing responsibilities of work and home through the first half of the 20th century. Single Women, Employment and the Equal Pay Debates of the 1920s The struggles to have single women’s responsibilities towards their family recognized by the state can be traced in research conducted during the interwar years and in debates about equal pay. Despite the high numbers of never-married women (see Table 5.1), this was a period when women were assumed to be married and dependent upon a male breadwinner and, thereby, not in paid work or needing access to unemployment benefits. Such assumptions were expressed in 1921 when, in a post-war climate of rising unemployment, social reformers, Seebohm Rowntree and Frank Stuart, published their report The Responsibility of Women Workers for Dependants. This had been commissioned to answer a report by the Fabian Women’s Group which claimed that, since just over half of working women were responsible for the maintenance of dependants, they should have equal pay with men. The aim of Rowntree and Stuart’s research was to discover on a ‘scientific basis’ whether in fixing women’s wages any allowance should be made for dependants. Their estimate that only 12 per cent of working women really had any degree of family responsibility challenged the reliability of the Fabian Women’s research but this had dealt with a different social group; of the 2,830 cases they investigated 1,600 were professional women, including 1,295 teachers. However, despite their claims to objectivity, Rowntree and Stuart’s own research criteria are structured by a priori assumptions about gender and marital status. They ‘regarded a person as dependent, or partially dependent, on a worker, if the latter’s wage, whether large or small, had to be shared between two, but no equivalent service was demanded from the former’. Thus, for example, they maintained that a widowed mother whose daughters jointly contributed to her upkeep should not be regarded as dependent on them because they ‘would really be employing her as their housekeeper’. This ignored the fact that a married man who demanded housekeeping services of his wife was fully justified in claiming her as his dependant. Equally a woman who paid her family more than the market


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price for her board and lodging would not be regarded as having dependants ‘if the income of the chief wage earner is sufficiently high to render such action on her part unnecessary’ (Rowntree and Stuart 1921: 7–9). This assumed that the chief wage earner in a household would necessarily share all his wage with his wife and dependent family, whilst a daughter would be expected to support only herself. Yet economic relationships within working-class families were not so clear-cut. Families might depend on a daughter or other female relative’s earnings in the notinfrequent cases where the father or ‘chief [male] wage earner’ kept a substantial portion of his earnings for his own use, or was unemployed, ill or absent (see also Glucksmann 1995, Pahl 1989). These situations were ignored and obscured by Rowntree and Stuart’s research criteria. One reason for the large discrepancy between the figures of Rowntree and Stuart’s research and those of the Fabian Women’s Group was the much higher average age (34) of the latter’s women informants. Rowntree and Stuart admitted that their own survey also showed a dramatic rise in the number of women with dependants in the 30 to 40 age cohort. Since the great majority (87 per cent) of their respondents were single, and more than two thirds of those who were designated as having dependants gained them through the death or illness of a father, it is likely that a substantial number of these cases were of single women supporting their mothers. Since it was married men aged between 30 and 40 who might be expected to have the largest number of dependant children, a case for a greater degree of equivalency of wages between married men and older single women could have been made. Nevertheless Rowntree and Stuart’s recommendation was that the older single woman’s responsibility for dependant relatives could be adequately dealt with by improving widows’ pensions and increasing grants paid under the national health insurance scheme to chronic invalids. This dispute illustrates the way in which expectations relating to gender and marital status shaped men’s and women’s relationship to work. The division of the category ‘woman’ into either childless worker without dependants or dependent non-working mother was achieved in the interwar years by using the institution of marriage as gate-keeper. And this division was never successfully challenged by a feminist movement, fragmented after the war over issues of equality and difference (Smith 1990, Riley 1988). Eleanor Rathbone, leader of the National Union of Societies for Equal Citizenship, saw equality for men and women in the labour market as contingent upon enabling married women to gain independence from their husbands through a system of allowances which would pay them directly for their family responsibilities. In The Disinherited Family (1924) she was critical particularly of bachelors who occupied ‘a vantage point for bargaining which is not open to women’ and were indistinguishably lumped together with men with dependent families enabling them to ‘fight the battle of high wages from behind the petticoats of their comrades’ wives and children’ (Rathbone 1924: 136). Yet her own position as a woman of independent means suggests that she too did not sufficiently recognize the difficulties which the equation of marriage and family responsibilities posed for the working-class single woman living with her family.

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Like Rowntree and Stuart she assumed that insurance benefits for the old and infirm should be sufficient to remove any familial burdens taken on by them and had little sympathy for the Fabians’ cause. In her analysis, women were polarized into single ‘workers’ and married ‘mothers’. The latter as ‘mothers’ had needs and social responsibilities which entitled them to different treatment as women. The former should she believed be given equal treatment with single men and, like them, regarded as having no family responsibilities. The anomalous position of the single woman worker proved to be of considerable value to the State in 1919 when the Ministry of Labour attempted to prevent women whom it believed had no real intention of working, from claiming unemployment benefit on the basis that they had paid insurance contributions as munitions or other workers during the war. Belief that any woman seeking work should accept a job in domestic service led to accusations in the press that if women refused employment ‘because it was not exactly to their taste, they ought not to be paid out of the public purse and so enabled to live a life of idleness’ (cited in Lewis 1983, see also Braybon 1981). Historians have used this as an example of injustice to married women which prevented them claiming dole, pointing out that such accusations had no basis in fact (Lewis 1983, Thane 1982, Deacon 1976). Yet its effect was equally if not more damaging to single women, many of whom were ejected from relatively well paid war work and denied the possibility of claiming benefit (Braybon 1981). Further restrictions to claims for unemployment benefit came in 1922 when the rising tide of unemployment led the government to introduce a means test. Single people living with relatives were excluded from claiming unless they could prove that they were entirely self-supporting when in work and could not reasonably look to their relatives for support when unemployed. This involved proof of a regular payment equivalent to board and lodging and the application of a crude, all or nothing means test to the household (Deacon 1976). Single women were thus left with the option of taking any job, however poor the conditions, or relying on relatives for support, which put them in a dependent position similar to but without the status of a wife. Of those 465,265 who did make claims between August 1925 and April 1928, over half were disallowed because household income was sufficient for their needs and these were from single persons living with relatives. Many more women’s than men’s claims also failed (Deacon 1976). However when in 1931 a Royal Commission on Unemployment Insurance followed up the cases of 2,354 disallowed persons in eight areas, they found that 43.8 per cent of single women found work in the six to thirteen week period following their appeals, compared with 33.1 per cent single men (Thane 1982). At a time of high male unemployment, this suggests the continuing availability of low paid service work for women and perhaps a greater perceived necessity for them not to rely on relatives for support. However, the notion of family responsibility could cut both ways, requiring single people also to support their families. Family responsibility was a principle widely invoked and applied by relieving authorities in the 1920s and 30s, an area


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fraught with confusion and contradictions dating back to the Elizabethan Poor Law Act of 1601. As Crowther points out, ‘By the 1930s there was an inconsistency between the legal definition of the family and the practice of official bodies responsible for the relief of the poor and unemployed. The State tolerated and even exploited this inconsistency for economic reasons’ (Crowther 1982: 141). Thus not only could working single sons and daughters be required to support parents, but single people could be compelled to support brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews or even more distant relatives if they lived in the same house. Writing in the late 1930s, the sociologist Professor Ford pointed out the inconsistency of the state’s position and the unfairness of burdening earning children with long-term responsibility for their parents (Ford 1937). It is unclear how far employed adult children left home in order to avoid maintaining parents, or if they were unemployed to avoid being an extra financial burden on their parents. But that such cases did arise is shown by a new tactic of the Unemployment Assistance Board which encouraged a fictitious definition of the household as the ‘constructive family’, whereby children who left home to evade regulations were still assessed as part of the family unless they could prove they had been evicted (Ford 1937: 142, see also Anderson 1977). The 1930s’ Spinsters’ Pension Campaign Such inconsistencies in the conceptualization of the family and assumptions about family responsibilities can also be traced through the benefits and services available to single women following their retirement from paid employment. In Britain during the interwar years, concerns about both unmarried motherhood and spinsterhood were linked with declining population, so-called racial degeneracy and economic depression. The falling birth rate was of great concern to the state and, as in Sweden and Denmark, the eugenics movement was influential in shaping debates about the need for middle-class families to have more children and for the working classes to limit their families (see Chapters 3 and 4). In these debates unmarried mothers were regarded by eugenicists as having particularly deleterious consequences for the British race, with their illegitimate children understood as ‘a source of weakness and racial disharmony’ (Stopes 1926, cited in Holden 2007). Associations were also made to the ‘surplus women problem’ not least because by 1921 war casualties had increased the so-called surplus of women to over a million, although their numbers declined thereafter. The fear of increasing numbers of women entering a depressed labour market and competing with men heightened wider concerns about the position of single women outside  This Act had imposed obligations on parents to support children, husbands to support wives, adults to support aged parents and grandparents to support grandchildren. These liabilities, which applied even if the persons concerned were not co-resident, were retained unaltered by the consolidating Poor Law Acts of 1930 and 1934.

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the normative boundaries of womanhood and family life. While age discrimination hit women and men similarly in this period of high unemployment, unemployment rates were noticeably higher for women over 30 in retail and clerical work; occupations which employed nearly a quarter of all working single women. The plight of these women was brought to public attention in the 1930s by a campaigning group supporting older unmarried women. The National Spinsters’ Pension Association (NSPA), was set up by Florence White in 1935 to lobby for a change to the 1925 contributory state retirement scheme which would allow women who had never married to receive their state pensions at 55 rather than 65. In this period of severe economic depression, White was concerned with older single workers and argued that they were losing their right to a contributory pension at 65 because their records were incomplete through unemployment, illness or through giving up paid work to look after relatives (Smith 1995, Groves 1993). Women with incomplete insurance records were forced to rely on the household means-tested public assistance or a means-tested pension after the age of 70. The spinsters’ campaign lobbied for equality, therefore, with widows who, from 1931, could receive pensions after the age of 55, based on their former husband’s national insurance contributions. One interesting aspect of this campaign is how it justified the use of the category ‘spinster’. Here single women, rather than representing themselves as equal to men and different from married women and widows, were arguing their essential similarity: their position was comparable in that they too had dependants to support but were without the security of a husband’s wage or pension to fulfil their responsibilities. The campaign also pointed out that spinsters over 45 were contributing to maternity benefits and orphans pensions although they would never have children themselves. As Groves (1993) suggests, the First World War had given single woman a unique opportunity. It allowed them to represent themselves as misplaced potentially married women, who were in a similar position to war widows. It also enabled them to introduce new meanings into the term ‘spinster’, distancing themselves from their pre-war predecessors and creating a new identity of ‘war spinster’ which they hoped would arouse public sympathy rather than contempt. Their claims to being ‘normal’ women were strengthened if it could be shown that rather than rejecting men, they had lost potential husbands through no fault of their own, yet were still performing traditionally feminine work of caring, and contributing to the upkeep of the nation’s families. It cannot be coincidental

 The NSPA, now largely forgotten, had a mainly working-class membership and was the largest British women’s reform movement of the 1930s. Its campaign was at its height in the late 1930s by which time it had around 92 branches, was holding demonstrations of up to 10,000 and handed in a petition to Parliament of nearly a million signatures. It never achieved its goal but was influential in the government’s decision in 1940 to lower the retirement age for all women from 65 to 60 (men continued to retire at 65) and this age differential is still in place – though it will be reversed from 2010.


Changing Relations of Welfare

therefore, that it was this generation of women who instigated for the first time ever a political movement entirely based around the status of singleness. The NSPA has been represented as a non-feminist if not anti-feminist organization, working in opposition to equal rights groups that sought to eliminate all gender distinctions from Britain’s insurance system on the basis that they strengthened traditional gender roles and encouraged the idea that women were incapable of supporting themselves (Smith 1995). And many professional women’s groups and organizations opposed the Association’s cause on these grounds, fearing it would undermine equal pay, restrict employment opportunities and force early retirement. Groves (1993) argues that this division between those who wanted special treatment as women and those who wanted equal treatment with men enabled opposing male dominated organizations, such as the National Confederation of Employers, to undermine the spinsters’ cause on the principle of ‘divide and rule’. Yet conflicts amongst single women were also expressions of differing class interests (Smith 1995). To the better educated middle-class woman in a professional or white collar job requiring no superior strength or fitness, the inequalities of the labour market would have been more obvious. Although some middle-class women’s employment prospects could also be compromised by family responsibilities, the possibility for them or their families to pay for domestic support in the case of their own or a parent’s sickness was much greater. For such women being compared to widows or wives would have fewer attractions compared with the need to be regarded as ‘workers’. By contrast, for a workingclass single woman in low-paid, sex-segregated employment, offering little job satisfaction, without pension prospects and with insufficient income to pay for domestic support in times of sickness or family need, the prospect of equality with men may have seemed irrelevant. To claim equality with widows and married women appeared much more desirable. Women who combined and organized under the banner of the ‘war spinster’ were, therefore, campaigning on a dual front. They demanded pity for their plight yet they also saw themselves as an army of strong working women fighting for social justice. But pity and social justice did not always fit comfortably together and the spinsters’ campaign could equally be vulnerable to ridicule and scorn. Pity for the spinsters’ plight was justified first on the grounds they had not been able to marry and were therefore deprived of love, had no men to support them and no children to love, and second because like widows they had been bereaved by the war and were grieving for lost loves. However, this image of the passive grieving woman was unstable and did not easily map onto the ways in which spinsters were presented and presented themselves in the campaign. Newspapers that covered their demonstrations often published photos showing them not as sad sweethearts but as unattractive, elderly women marching and brandishing placards which made them seem not only pitiable but also comic characters. The press were not alone in exposing this ambiguity. The Report of the Committee on Pensions for Unmarried Women published in 1939 displays similar juxtapositions. Undermining

Paradoxes of Gender and Marital Status


the spinsters’ claims to have been unable to marry, the report stressed that this could not be verified statistically and pointed to the rise in marriage rates after the war. Yet it still expressed sympathy for the plight of spinsters in competition with younger widows for jobs, while not admitting that the latter’s pensions made any real difference to their financial security (para. 104 and 107). The second organizing principle used by the campaign was social justice. Spinsters felt they had worked hard all their lives and yet were given a less favourable deal than married women and widows, many of whom had not worked. But comparisons between these different categories of women were problematic. The assumption, embedded deeply in the campaign, that women should really have a man to support them made it harder for older spinsters to present themselves unambiguously as workers with the same rights as men. Moreover the problem of widows being in competition with spinsters for work was exacerbated by the high number of young war widows exposed by census statistics. In 1921 these showed that there were more than twice as many widows aged between 20 and 33 than in 1911 with a threefold increase for those who were aged 27. Their plight as young women bereaved before their time generally attracted sympathy, but this was not universal. Many young war widows had spent very little time with their partners before they were killed, but, with the provision that they maintained a chaste lifestyle thereafter, they were still entitled to pensions of £1 a week if they were childless. Some commentators saw the rise in the number of divorce petitions after the war as evidence that many such marriages were often over-hasty and reckless. As feminist Catherine Gascoigne Hartley argued in support of a change in the divorce law, ‘normal control, conventional standards, old careful habits of conduct, were broken through at a time of excessive emotion’ (Gascoigne Hartley 1921: 73). Here ‘war spinsters’ could apparently score both in terms of pity and justice. They had not married in haste and become widows of men they hardly knew, nor had they added to the rising divorce rate but had maintained their virtue and self-control. However comparisons of this kind with bereaved war widows were also ambiguous. A war widow’s right to a pension depended on her remaining chaste and faithful to her dead husband but the fact that she had experienced sex gave her an important advantage over the celibate spinster who had been unable to consummate her relationship before her partner’s death or who had been deprived by the war of meeting the right man. The image of a grieving sweetheart might be appropriate while these women were young and might still remarry. However by the 1930s the views of medical and psychoanalytical experts about the importance of sexual experience for physical and mental health had been widely translated into popular marriage manuals. Older spinsters’ lack of sexual and maternal experience counted against them feeding into the spinster stereotype and undermining them as women whose rights must be taken seriously.


Changing Relations of Welfare

Taking and Avoiding Responsibility for the Unmarried Mother in the Second World War Despite this shift in perceptions about the importance of sexual and maternal experiences to women’s well-being during the 1930s, female sexuality continued to be closely regulated and welfare provision to support women before and following the birth of a child remained firmly located within the marital relationship. By the outbreak of the Second World War there had, therefore, been few major improvements to the welfare benefits that could be claimed by unmarried mothers. At the same time, such women often experienced prejudice in their encounters with welfare professionals as well as unequal treatment with their married and widowed counterparts. With the war, however, the government acted quickly to provide an emergency maternity service which was available equally to all mothers, married and unmarried, who had been evacuated from areas at risk of bombing. Improvements to maternity care in rural areas were rapidly put in place and, although evacuated mothers generally returned quickly to the cities following the birth of their child, the new maternity service proved enormously successful. Yet as with all attempts to provide equality of treatment for married and unmarried mothers within welfare services, implicit moral assumptions about marriage, motherhood and dependency upon a male breadwinner remained at their core. Thus there was little consideration during the early years of the war as to how the evacuated unmarried mother was to support herself and her child after discharge from the maternity home or hospital, and local authorities grew increasingly unwilling to help as the war progressed. One reason for this was that the extensive mobilization of people during the war years created wide-ranging difficulties for those local authorities receiving evacuees and those with large populations of newly-recruited war workers. In such areas there was considerable concern about how councils would be recompensed financially by the state for their growing levels of social and welfare provision. Many local authorities refused to take responsibility for the care of women who had been moved to their area and such was the anxiety about the potential expense there was even suggestion that unmarried expectant mothers should not be employed in districts other than their own (Ferguson and Fitzgerald 1954). Moreover evacuated unmarried mothers were rarely offered places in voluntary-run Mother and Baby Homes, which were generally unable or unwilling to help on a short-term or ad hoc basis (Macaskill 1993, Hall and Howes 1965). This lack of postnatal planning and the reluctance, at national, local and voluntary levels, to take responsibility for the care of the evacuated unmarried mother and her child meant that they remained a ‘problem’ through the war years. Maternity care may have improved but there were few other statutory resources to support the single mother if she decided to keep her child. However, as Ferguson and Fitzgerald (1954: 109) point out, if this was the case for these unmarried mothers, ‘there was another for unmarried mothers who were war workers of a particular kind, and a third for unmarried mothers in the Services’.

Paradoxes of Gender and Marital Status


The greatest need for the unmarried mother who was a war worker, like that of the evacuated mother, was for some financial support, accommodation before and following the child’s birth, and the provision of nursery care to enable her to return to paid employment and take responsibility for her dependant child. The government recognized that such resources should be made available with the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Supply, in particular, arguing that since the problem had been created by the war it should be treated as a national concern; if the state transferred a girl away from home for work it surely had some responsibility for her welfare and that of her child (Ferguson and Fitzgerald 1954). To this end, in September 1941, the Ministry of Health produced a document ‘Maternity Provision for Unmarried Women Workers’ and despite opposition from the Treasury, had the proposals rapidly agreed. Unfortunately there were no recommendations regarding the care of the mother’s child when she returned to work. It remained her responsibility to find and arrange childcare, and to pay for it. Yet even with these limitations the document was shrouded in secrecy. Many officials of both voluntary organizations and local authorities were not told of its existence (Clark 2008); even factory welfare officers who were charged with the care of women employees were mostly unaware that help was available for their unmarried, pregnant workers. In addition, the procedure for claiming benefits remained centralized and was administered solely by the Ministry of Health. Its rulings were exceptionally rigid, so much so that irrespective of need no mother claiming after the birth of her child was eligible for an award. As Ferguson and Fitzgerald (1954) have highlighted: Even when the scheme was formally brought to an end early in 1948, only 36 unmarried mothers had received help under its provisions, of these only eleven had received the full amount of £20 … The total amount spent in over six years was below £500, or less than a quarter of the £2,000 sanctioned by the Treasury for the first year alone (Ferguson and Fitzgerald 1954: 112).

This was despite estimates by the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Labour, and the Ministry of Supply that between 50 and 100 women a year, from the Royal Ordnance Factories alone, would be in need of financial assistance after the birth of illegitimate children. There is little to explain the rigidity and secrecy surrounding this scheme; the government had accepted that it had responsibilities towards its unmarried, pregnant war workers and the Treasury had allocated the money. However the Ministry of Health, despite initiating the proposals, denied the scheme even a modicum of success. Letters and memos to voluntary organizations working with unmarried mothers, such as the Moral Welfare Association (MWA) and the National Council for the Unmarried Mother and Her Child (NCUMC), indicate that there was a determination to do as little as possible because ‘the obvious course is that the girls go home and share the normal maternity service of their home district’.


Changing Relations of Welfare

Only ‘exceptional’ cases were to be helped and the Ministry of Health urged that arrangements for these cases should not be publicized (Moral Welfare Council (MWC) Archives, Memo from the Ministry of Health, 28 October 1941). It may be possible to conjecture that because this scheme was introduced before that for unmarried mothers in the Armed Services, the Ministry of Health was fearful of complaints from an unsympathetic, moralizing public about the implementation of such support being provided to young female war workers whose freedom from the constraints of family life was often regarded with suspicion (Hall 2000, Gledhill and Swanson 1996). Certainly the NCUMC was concerned that there would be an outcry as to why benefits were being provided for factory workers while there was nothing available for expectant unmarried mothers discharged from the Services (MWC Archives). For this reason, the General Secretary of the NCUMC supported the Ministry of Health’s position and decided that information about the scheme would not be disseminated through her organization (letter from Miss Musson, undated, MWC Archives). Comparisons, however, with the later provisions made for women in the Armed Services could not be greater, and they illustrate the clear differentiation of these different groups of unmarried mothers into ‘undeserving’ and ‘deserving’ categories. The maternity scheme for servicewomen was the only one which acknowledged that accommodation was a major problem faced by both pregnant, unmarried women and unmarried mothers with young children. To this end, such groups of servicewomen were offered places in post-natal evacuation hostels which had been underused since the beginning of the war, despite the needs of evacuated unmarried mothers and their working counterparts. The women themselves were not encouraged to return to the Services, unlike unmarried mothers among the war workers who were generally returned to their previous occupations after the birth of their children. The Treasury allocated £25,000 to fund this work and voluntary organizations were active in finding suitable employment for the mothers, in encouraging family support (where mothers agreed), and, as a last resort, in arranging adoptions (Haste 1982). This group of unmarried mothers received, therefore, both practical and financial support although the scheme was not put in place until 1943 when the number of illegitimate births amongst the population as a whole could not longer be ignored (see Table 5.2) and the government acknowledged that unmarried motherhood and illegitimacy was a ‘social problem’ for which it had a responsibility (Costello 1985, Calder 1969). The different levels of support offered to these three groups of unmarried mothers demonstrate the ways in which moral judgements about rights to welfare infused the development of statutory benefits for those outside the nuclear family during the war years. Such judgements continued to shape welfare policy and practice for unmarried mothers after the war, with central and local governments generally abdicating their responsibilities by agreeing that they had insufficient  Archives of the Moral Welfare Council are held at the Church of England Record Centre in London.

Paradoxes of Gender and Marital Status


expertise to work with unmarried mothers and that voluntary-aided Homes could meet local and individual needs more flexibly than any Home funded and controlled by the state (Hall 1952). As our next case study demonstrates, the post-war welfare state continued to be developed around a framework of moral imperatives, with monogamous marriage and a male breadwinner at their core thus often marginalizing and discriminating against single women despite claims about the comprehensiveness of its social reforms. The Rights and Responsibilities of Marriage in the Post-war Welfare State As in the 1920s and 1930s assumptions that, whatever their marital status, men should be paid as if they had families to support and women treated as if they had none, continued to dominate post-war debates about the nature of employment, although with a different inflection. The social and economic reconstruction of Britain by the 1945 Labour government was understood to include the rebuilding of family life, following its significant strain, physically, morally and emotionally, during the war years (Finch and Summerfield 1991). The increasing number of married women moving into the labour market after the war raised, therefore, much discussion about the potential damage such employment might have upon children’s welfare and how family life might be better supported by the state. This concern to support families can be clearly traced in William Beveridge’s Report, Social Insurance and Allied Services, published in 1942, which formed the basis of so much of the development of Britain’s post-war welfare state (see also Chapter 2). Beveridge built upon and developed the interwar years’ policy of insurance contributions as the means by which the working population could protect itself from loss of income due to ill-health or unemployment. The premise of this economic security for the population was not, therefore, based on the idea of citizenship rights but on employment with the result that rights to benefit came from a record of contributions in full-time employment that excluded most women, disabled people and many more (Glennerster 1995). Single working women were eligible for the same insurance rights as men and were able to take advantage of unemployment and sickness benefits but, because they were (still) not presumed to have dependants to support, their insurance contributions were lower than men’s. At the same time married women were assumed to be the dependants of their husbands and so, if working, could pay reduced contributions and receive benefits at a reduced rate. This was, as the Report stated, because ‘On marriage a woman gains a legal right to maintenance by her husband as a first line of defence against risks which fall directly on the solitary woman’ (Beveridge 1942: 49). However given that women in this period were earning almost half that of men, even full-time employment did not guarantee single women an adequate income to support themselves and their dependants. Similarly the unmarried mother would struggle to find paid work which provided both the flexibility and financial resources to raise her child alone.


Changing Relations of Welfare

Yet the financial difficulties experienced by unmarried mothers were acknowledged in other evidence collected during this period. The Maternity in Great Britain Report of 1948 noted, for example, that ‘leaving work on account of maternity often resulted in destitution, and in spite of public assistance and private charities the resources available to unmarried mothers were most inadequate’ (200). It recommended both better maternity grants to allow women to leave work earlier and more nursery accommodation to facilitate the unmarried mother’s return to the workplace. Such an extension of provision was not forthcoming and because of inadequate maternity allowances, the health of single women who stayed at work during the latter stages of pregnancy and returned to work too quickly following confinement continued to suffer during the early post-war years. Medical care was established through the National Health Service Act (1948), which provided a service to cover the needs of all women, irrespective of marital status, during pregnancy and childbirth. All mothers were to be entitled to free ante-natal and post-natal care, to attendance by a doctor or midwife at the delivery of their baby and to the support of local authority child welfare clinics and health visitor services during the first five years of their child’s life. This did not mean, however, that unmarried mothers were treated equally. They continued to face discrimination and, for example, were generally the last to be offered a bed in a specialist hospital (NCUMC 1964). Within the wider context of Britain’s post-war welfare reforms, the additional welfare services and benefits that might be needed to support mothers and children without a male breadwinner were also largely left unacknowledged. Single women who did not have sufficient insurance contributions were only liable for support under the National Assistance Act of 1948 and then purely at subsistence rates. As a result only minimal benefits were provided and these took little account of the responsibilities that single women might have for family dependants. Mothers who lived alone, with responsibility for rent and household necessities as well as the support of their children, had to manage on the barest of welfare benefits, which often amounted to less than a third of the average weekly wage for men (Wimperis 1960). While widows received a pension as of right, unmarried mothers remained dependent on this means-tested allowance if they were unable to find suitable employment to support themselves and their children. One reason for this lack of adequate, financial provision has been attributed to a moral determination by government not to be seen as rewarding single women for bearing children outside marriage, and to enforce responsibility upon fathers for the support of their children. Even a sympathetic review of unmarried motherhood, conducted during the 1950s, made the point that ‘Unless there were proper safeguards [a system of welfare benefits for single mothers] might in some cases be used to enable a woman to cohabit or have sexual relations with a series of men and have children by them, with minimal financial help from the man’ (Wimperis 1960: 168). What was less frequently commented upon were the ways in which the costs of different maternity benefits were divided between the insurance contributions of women and men. Men’s insurance contributions were used to meet the maternity

Paradoxes of Gender and Marital Status


grant paid to married women. Maternity grants paid to single women were met from women’s insurance contributions, as were weekly maternity benefits which could be claimed by all pregnant women, single and married, who had paid sufficient contributions. Such a division ensured that employed men and women not in paid work (often married housewives) bore no financial responsibility for the benefits to which unmarried mothers were eligible, thus protecting the nuclear family from responsibility for the costs of illegitimate births. As Patricia Allatt (1981) has so cogently argued: The cost [of maternity allowances] is borne by women who are potential or actual deviant women themselves. They are single women, ie the ones who might have children themselves outside marriage and whose single status itself (after the age of twenty-five) defines them as deviant, or housewives who have chosen to pay the full contribution and are thereby affirming a lesser commitment to the domestic role or at least an alternative identity … . Thus deviant women pay for deviant women (Allatt 1981: 191).

It was, therefore, not only the benefit rates payable under the national insurance scheme but also its organization which worked to support the institution of marriage and the nuclear family, financially and ideologically. The responsibilities of employed married men for their families were acknowledged by the state and built into the architecture of its benefits and services. There were no similar provisions made for those positioned outside the boundaries of the normative family. The insurance contributions of men were used to support other men, married housewives who were not in paid employment and children born to married parents. It was the insurance contributions of single employed women which were drawn upon to provide the statutory benefits for unmarried mothers. Other ways in which the Beveridge Report supported marriage and the nuclear family and penalized single women and single mothers can be traced in proposals for the development of a new post-war pensions system. An unmarried woman cohabiting with a man could not claim for medical treatment unless she was, herself, in employment and fully insured. Similarly she was not eligible for widowhood benefits if he died and nor did she qualify for a retirement pension unless she had made insurance contributions throughout her working life. In short she could not claim any welfare benefits as her partner’s dependant since they had not married. Similarly men were held to have no responsibility for their unmarried partners although they were perceived to have responsibilities towards married women as the following extract from the Beveridge Report demonstrates: The contributions of the man with whom she [the single woman] is living, if he is married to someone else, will go to secure pensions and other benefits for his legal wife; if he is not married, his contributions as a single man will go to support the benefits of married women generally (Beveridge 1942: 52, our emphasis).


Changing Relations of Welfare

Single women were thus to have none of the advantages afforded by the state to their married counterparts nor were they to benefit from their partners’ insurance contributions. Moreover cohabiting single women were also often unmarried mothers and their children were penalized equally because of the reluctance to reform the law in respect of recognizing the relationship between fathers and their illegitimate children. In such ways the benefits system of the early post-war years provided welfare that was ‘earned’ in the workplace through insurance contributions but it also deployed a crucial distinction between ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ claimants in which marital status was afforded a particular moral value. Conclusion Clearly the institution of marriage and the marital relationship have been transformed since the early post-war decades. From the 1970s and 1980s there has been a declining proportion of people marrying and cohabiting couples are no longer the subject of disapproval (Lewis 2001, Fox Harding 1996). In turn marriage and parenthood are less closely intertwined in the normative elements of family life that feature in welfare policy and practice. Yet concerns about gender relations and lone motherhood (Kiernan et al. 1998) continue to feature in policy and legislation at the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st centuries. The New Labour governments through these years, like the Conservative governments of the 1980s and 1990s, has been committed to reducing the costs of the social security system, to improving the education and training of the unemployed, and to strengthening Britain’s position in an increasingly competitive global economy (Williams 2005). This has resulted in a sharply focused emphasis on the work ethic and responsible citizens, independent of the state and accountable for their own well-being. Such an emphasis on paid employment and the responsibilities of citizens to be economically self-sufficient sits in tension with New Labour’s determination to ensure parents take greater responsibility for their children’s emotional and physical well-being. It also does little to recognize the gendered inequalities of the workplace in which women continue to earn less than their male counterparts when in full-time work and where part-time work, often undertaken by women with young children, remains low-paid and insecure. Moreover, unlike Denmark and Sweden, the relatively high level of female employment has not been acknowledged through a consistent childcare policy (see Chapter 2) or a work–life balance that is favourable to women (Boje 2006). This is because much welfare policy continues to carry a normative view of the family, despite no longer being explicitly organized around marital status. Parental leave entitlements and maternity benefits, for example, have embedded within them assumptions about family life, including that the primary breadwinner will be male and that care for the new-born child will be the responsibility of its

Paradoxes of Gender and Marital Status


mother, albeit within a defined period before she returns to work. New Labour’s vision of a modern welfare state, of which these leaves and benefits form a part, thus carries with it choices and decisions about the balancing of employment and care responsibilities that are presumed to be within the remit of most families. Yet there is little acknowledgement in this vision of the diversity of family life in contemporary Britain and it is the heterosexual couple, preferably married, which remains the norm of family life in recent policy making (see Home Office 1998). As a result welfare policy is inflected with gendered assumptions about the ways in which an adult couple should share their responsibilities for work, the home and childcare while also eliding the difficult task faced by single-headed households in combining motherhood, care and paid employment. The effects of such difficulties can be traced through single women’s relationship to the labour market, which though undergoing significant change over the past 50 years not least because single and married women alike are now expected to be in paid employment, is still adversely shaped by the continuing shadow of the male breadwinner model of work and welfare benefits. Motherhood for single women is not easily negotiated with the demands of the workplace, where there is still little recognition of caring responsibilities. Single younger women are bearing the brunt of Britain’s long hours culture by putting in more unpaid overtime than men in order to establish their careers. And where single older women are in work, they are more likely to be in lower paid or part-time jobs and to have interrupted employment records, both of which restrict their opportunities to save for their retirement and leave them vulnerable to poverty in older age (Williams 2004). Such women face, as a result, many of the financial difficulties of those who joined the Spinsters’ Pension Campaign in the 1930s. Similarly although the stigma attached to unmarried motherhood through the first half of the 20th century has dissipated, this does not mean that lone mothers are now treated equally with other mothers. From its very first policy interventions New Labour has been determined to reduce rates of teenage pregnancy and to increase the numbers of lone mothers in employment. The result is that lone mothers face moral disapproval if they are unemployed and need support from the state and because their children are more likely to be living in poverty. At the same time teenage pregnancy is an issue also framed by moralizing discourses, with young single mothers being intensively targeted to complete their education so that they can join the labour market and support their children (Carabine 2007). Lone mothers thus face the difficulties of meeting their responsibilities not only as citizens, active in paid work, but also as mothers, attending to their children’s care and well-being. And while New Labour has sought to address this tension by supporting the poorest lone mothers through welfare benefits and tax credits, it has also subjected them to an increased regulation of their parenting skills. In such ways contemporary policy making in Britain illustrates the continuing moral norms and gendered assumptions about family life that shape the nature of welfare benefits and the constitution of welfare rights. The ‘new’ normative family


Changing Relations of Welfare

that has emerged in recent policy and practice continues to revolve around the adult couple, based on a current or past sexual relationship and it remains, at best, ambivalent towards lone parents and single women (Williams 2004). There are, therefore, many persistent threads that connect the experiences of single women and unmarried mothers in the first half of the 20th century to those of women in Britain at the beginning of the 21st century. References Allatt, P. 1981. Stereotyping: familism and the law, in Law, State and Society, edited by B. Fryer et al. London: Croom Helm, 177–201. Anderson, M. 1977. The impact on the family of the elderly on changes since Victorian times in governmental income-maintenance provision, in Family, Bureaucracy and the Elderly, edited by E. Shanas and M.B. Sussman. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 36–59. Beveridge, W.H. 1942. Social Insurance and Allied Services (The Beveridge Report). (Cmd 6404), London: HMSO. Boje, T.P. 2006. Working time and caring strategies: parenthood in different welfare states, in Politicizing Parenthood in Scandinavia: Gender Relations in Welfare States, edited by A.L. Ellingsæter and A. Leira. Bristol: The Policy Press, 195–216. Braybon, G. 1981. Women Workers in World War One. London: Croom Helm. Calder, A. 1969. The People’s War: Britain 1939–1945. London: Jonathan Cape. Carabine, J. 2007. New Labour’s teenage pregnancy policy: constituting knowing responsible citizens? Cultural Studies, 21(6), 952–73. Clark, G. 2008. The role of mother and baby homes in the adoption of children outside marriage in 20th century England and Wales. Family and Community History, 11(1), 45–59. Costello, J. 1985. Love, Sex and War. London: Collins. Crowther, M.A. 1982. Family responsibility and state responsibility in Britain before the welfare state. Historical Journal, 25, 131–45. Davidoff, L., Doolittle, M., Fink, J. and Holden, K. 1999. The Family Story: Blood, Contract and Intimacy, 1830–1960. London: Longman. Deacon, A. 1976. In Search of the Scrounger: The Administration of Unemployment Insurance in Britain 1920–1931. Occasional Papers in Social Administration, No. 60. London: G. Bell and Sons. Ferguson, S. and Fitzgerald, H. 1954. The History of the Second World War: Studies in the Social Services. London: HMSO. Finch, J. and Summerfield, P. 1991. Social reconstruction and the emergence of companionate marriage, 1945–59, in Marriage, Domestic Life and Social Change, edited by D. Clark. London: Routledge, 7–32. Fink, J. and Holden, K. 1999. Pictures from the margins of marriage: representations of spinsters and single women in the mid-Victorian novel, interwar Hollywood

Paradoxes of Gender and Marital Status


melodrama and British film of the 1950s and 1960s. Gender and History, 11(2), 233–55. Ford, P. 1937. Means tests and responsibility for needy relatives. Sociological Review, 24, 175–89. Fox Harding, L. 1996. Family, State and Social Policy. Basingstoke: Macmillan. Gascoigne Hartley, C. 1921. Divorce (Today and Tomorrow). London: Leonard Parsons. Gledhill, C. and Swanson, G. (eds). 1996. Nationalizing Femininity: Culture, Sexuality and British Cinema in the Second World War. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Glennerster, H. 1995. British Social Policy Since 1945. Oxford: Blackwell. Glucksmann, M. 1995. Some do, some don’t (but in fact they all do really); some will, some won’t; some have, some haven’t: women, men, work and washing machines. Gender and History, 7(2), 63–75. Groves, D. 1993. Onward Spinsters, Onward! The National Spinsters Pension Association. Paper to the Centennial Suffrage Conference, Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand. Hall, L.A. 2000. Sex, Gender and Social Change in Britain since 1880. Houndmills: Macmillan. Hall, M.P. 1952. The Social Services of Modern England. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Hall, M.P. and Howes, I.V. 1965. The Church in Social Work: A Study of Moral Welfare Work Undertaken by the Church of England. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Haste, C. 1982. Rules of Desire. London: Chatto and Windus. Holden, K. 2007. The Shadow of Marriage: Singleness in England, 1914–60. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Home Office. 1998. Supporting Families. London: HMSO. Kiernan, K., Lewis, J. and Land, H. 1998. Lone Motherhood in Twentieth-Century Britain. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Lewis, J. 1983. Dealing with dependency: state practices and social realities, 1870–1945, in Women’s Welfare, Women’s Rights, edited by J. Lewis. London: Croom Helm. Lewis, J. 2001. The End of Marriage? Individualism and Intimate Relationships. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. Macaskill, H. 1993. From the Workhouse to the Workplace. London: NCUMC. Maternity in Great Britain. 1948. Oxford: Oxford University Press. McGregor, O.R. 1957. Divorce in England. London: Heinemann. National Council for the Unmarried Mother and Her Child. 1964. The Unmarried Mother and Her Child in Residential Care. London: NCUMC. Pahl, J. 1989. Money and Marriage. London: Macmillan. Philips, R. 1991. Untying the Knot: A Short History of Divorce. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Rathbone, E. 1924. The Disinherited Family. London: Allen and Unwin.


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Report of the Committee on Pensions for Unmarried Women. 1939. (Cmnd 5991), London: HMSO. Riley, D. 1988. Am I That Name? Feminism and the Category of ‘Women’ in History. London: Macmillan. Rowntree, B. and Stuart, F. 1921. The Responsibility of Women Workers for Dependants. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Smith, H. 1990. British feminism in the nineteen twenties, in British Feminism in the Twentieth Century, edited by H. Smith. Aldershot: Edward Elgar, 47–65. Smith, H. 1995. Gender and the welfare state: The Old Age and Widows’ Pensions Act. History, 80, 383–99. Thane, P. 1982. The Origins of the Welfare State. London: Longman. Williams, F. 2004. Rethinking Families. London: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. Williams, F. 2005. New Labour’s Family Policy, in Analysis and Debate in Social Policy, edited by M. Powell et al. Bristol: The Policy Press, 289–302. Wimperis, V. 1960. The Unmarried Mother and Her Child. London: Allan and Unwin.

Part II Gender, Migration and Social Inequalities

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Chapter 6

Migration, Family and British Social Policy in the Late 20th Century: British Pakistani Perspectives Kaveri Harriss and Alison Shaw

Introduction With few exceptions, anthropology has ignored the impact of the state on kinship, and of state policies on household structures. To redress this, we set out some of the ways in which the state has influenced family life in an ethnic minority population through an examination of state control of immigration and settlement. As a case in point, we focus on the circumstances of British Pakistanis, who are one of the most demographically significant ethnic minority groups in the UK and numbered over 747,000 in the 2001 census. We examine the ways in which UK immigration policies have influenced migrants’ constructions of their families in the UK, and discuss how UK welfare policies can be insensitive to the cultural divergence of family structures and practices. In particular, we pay close attention to the ways in which state policies have constructed citizens as gendered subjects, colluding with patriarchy and helping to reproduce ‘traditional’ gender roles and patterns of gendered power in the family. Our perspective is informed by an understanding of British Pakistanis not so much as immigrants but as transmigrants, who are connected to two or more societies simultaneously (Glick Schiller et al. 1995). British Pakistanis typically maintain active links with kin across the world, mainly in Pakistan but also in India, East Africa, the USA, Canada and elsewhere in Europe. This transnationalism has been renewed with each generation through the common practice of marrying a spouse from Pakistan. Marriage migration is practised by all of Britain’s South Asian populations, but is most common among British Pakistanis, for whom immigration policies consequently continue to have disproportionate importance. We are also influenced by recent insights from work on the role of emotions in social life, which question and complement formal depictions of South Asian marriage and family life ( Shaw and Charsley 2006, Charsley 2003, Parry 2001). Our focus on situations that generate anger, disappointment, loneliness or frustration allows us to examine migration and transmigrant family practices in relation to feelings of closeness and responsibility, counterbalancing traditional depictions of South


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Asians which have tended to stress the corporate and strategic nature of the South Asian ‘joint’ family. We are also influenced by insights from work on the nature of the state which have conceived of it not as a coherent, integrated, goal-oriented body, but as an elusive ‘ghost in the machine’ known by its ‘structural effects’ (Mitchell 1991). The ‘state in society’ approach allows us to see simultaneously the wholeness and cohesiveness of the image of the state and the contradictory and incoherent nature of its practices (Migdal 2001). We examine the state not from the centre, but from the margins, as it exists in its local manifestations and influences individual lives. The margins are understood as the unruly, disordered periphery onto which the state imposes its order, but where the state is also undone through the illegibility of its own practices (Das and Poole 2004). We have both conducted long-term ethnographic fieldwork with Pakistanis in the UK, in London (KH), Oxford and High Wycombe (AS), as well with branches of transmigrant families in Punjab and Azad Kashmir. In what follows, we take an historical perspective by examining the process of family constitution in the UK in relation to the complex and changing meanings that have been attributed to ‘the family’ in UK immigration policies in the latter half of the 20th century, before turning to examine aspects of family provisioning and British Pakistani families’ engagements with the welfare state. We begin with a case study of a transmigrant Pakistani family living in London. The example is not intended to present an archetypal experience, but to provide an illustrative introduction to the chapter’s discussion of how family structure in the UK is rooted in the migration process and how the process of family constitution has been manipulated by the British state’s immigration policies; with consequent implications for welfare. Nusrat and Sadiq Nusrat and Sadiq are first cousins and have been married for over 40 years. Sadiq is in his early 70s and Nusrat is in her late 60s. They were born in neighbouring villages in Azad Kashmir. In 1960, Sadiq was sponsored by his father and uncle to come to England for what he calls ‘better bread and butter’. He found work in the docklands of East London, moving between workshops and factories. In 1975 he ended up at the nearby Ford motor factory, where he worked as a metal panel beater until he took a redundancy payment in 1985. In 1963 Sadiq returned to Pakistan to marry Nusrat, and over the next decade he made regular return visits for a few months every year. By 1971 Nusrat had three daughters and a son, and Sadiq applied for his wife to join him in the UK. Nusrat came to England in 1971, bringing three of her children, but leaving behind the eldest daughter, seven-year-old Nasreen, who went to live with an aunt. Nusrat’s daughter Umbreen explains: ‘My mum was scared, she said “if I take three daughters to England, then I might not get the visa”. If she takes two daughters then she’d be likely to get it. So that’s why she left her. But for a sevenyear-old child to be left without her mother and be separated, that was really

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heartbreaking for my sister. She was hoping that mum will come back in a couple of months.’ Nusrat joined the rest of her family in a crowded house in East London that was shared with Sadiq’s father, uncle, a cousin, his wife and children and two other families from the village. Gradually the other families began to move out of the shared house and in 1978, Sadiq bought his own house, borrowing a lot of the money from relatives and Pakistani workmates at Ford. In 1985 he managed to pay off a significant amount of debt using his redundancy payment. Currently, the eldest son Ubaid is living in the first house that Nusrat and Sadiq bought, with his three children and his wife. Ubaid’s wife arrived from Pakistan shortly after they married in 1990 and Ubaid jokingly calls her ‘an import’. Nusrat and Sadiq left their first house to Ubaid in 1992, and bought a second property a few streets away. Since 1999, Nusrat and Sadiq have been living with their youngest son Farooq and his wife Tasleem, who now have a six-year old son. Nusrat and Sadiq’s two daughters Umbreen and Robina have married cousins from Pakistan and are settled in their own houses nearby. Robina’s children visit almost every day after school because Tasleem is teaching them to read the Qur’an. In 2003, Nusrat’s eldest grandson Afzal, now 20, married Aneesa, a young woman from a village close to the border with Azad Kashmir. This marriage created a terrible rift in the family, as Nusrat and Umbreen had hoped that Afzal would marry one of the daughters of Nasreen, the daughter who Nusrat had left behind in Pakistan in 1971. When Afzal turned 17, Umbreen had asked him if he would marry her sister Nasreen’s daughter. Afzal agreed and went to Pakistan, for the first time in his life, and met with ‘the girl’. Unfortunately however, the match was just not suitable: ‘She was a nice person, yeah but I just didn’t like her’. When Afzal broke the engagement Nusrat and Umbreen were absolutely furious and the rift in the family has still not mended. Afzal decided that to escape the pressure from his mother and grandmother he needed to start looking for a girl from outside the family. He hired a car and travelled around Azad Kashmir and Punjab, following up suggestions of suitable brides made by friends and relatives from the village. None of the girls took his fancy until exhausted, he ended up in the house of the driver, who brought out his daughters and introduced them to Afzal. This time the match was suitable: Afzal chose Aneela, and they got married during that two-month visit. However, three years later, Aneela is still living at her parent’s house in Azad Kashmir, unable to join Afzal in the UK because he has not managed to find a job. In the meantime, Nasreen’s daughter in Pakistan remains unmarried. Umbreen explains: ‘Nasreen’s got a lot of bitterness in her heart for mum not bringing her over. There was always a clash against my mum, she was always saying why did you leave me why didn’t you take me, and mum hasn’t really got any reason … After having my other brother, she could have tried to call Nasreen over [to the UK], she could have said to the Home Office I’ve got a daughter back home and I want to bring her over. There’s so many things that mum could have done but didn’t do … Nasreen’s got those two daughters that are 20 and 19, and they’re waiting to get married. If she can find any British rishtas then


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they’ll come as well, but at the moment there’s nobody there for them. Everybody goes to Pakistan and chooses somebody else, nobody chooses her daughters. So she’s got all that bitterness as well.’ The immigration and settlement of migrants from Commonwealth countries such as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh since the Second World War is usually described in terms of different ‘waves’ of migration and settlement. Pnina Werbner’s classic monograph on Pakistanis in Manchester treats migration as an ongoing process which runs through predictable phases and is mirrored by changing family forms: the migration of young, male workers provides the basis for subsequent family reunification and settlement, and this in turn is followed by a second-generation phase in which the three-generational family is reconstituted (Werbner 1990). Whilst it is true that migration is a process that runs through predictable trajectories, however, it is important to recognize that these patterns of migration and settlement are rooted in specific historical circumstances, most notably, state controls on immigration. Definitions of British nationality and citizenship from the early post-war era onwards have manipulated the meanings and legitimacy attached to being an ‘immigrant’ or belonging to a migrant family, thus creating a distinctly state-managed context for transmigrant family, household and community development in the UK. Immigration Policies and Family Constitution: From Migrant Workers To Citizens Sadiq arrived in the UK as part of the first substantial wave of migrants from Commonwealth countries, which took place in the 1950s and 1960s. The 1948 British Nationality Act, in the hope of maintaining good relations with its diminishing empire and facilitating the free movement of (white) imperial subjects, had given all Commonwealth citizens the right to enter and settle in the UK. Unlike other Western European countries where labour migration operated on a ‘guest worker’ system, the right of abode for Commonwealth citizens was unrestricted and unlimited. The Ministry of Labour came to see migration as a potential solution to the problem of labour shortages in the reconstruction of the war-damaged economy and engaged in active recruitment in the Commonwealth. This was most evident in the Caribbean, where the Ministry of Labour specifically recruited workers for the understaffed National Health Service (NHS) and London Transport. Historians disagree on the extent to which Commonwealth labour migration was actively solicited or essentially the unintended consequence of a citizenship that had been defined too inclusively (Jopke 1999, Paul 1997). Cabinet documents from the 1950s, however, expose that restrictions on the issuing of passports in emigrating countries were used covertly as a way of controlling immigration before 1955 (Spencer 1997). Most of the early migrants from what was then West Pakistan already had some contact with Britain through army and navy service, establishing migratory links to

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particular geographic areas in Pakistan. One of Sadiq’s uncles, for example, served in the First World War and died on a battlefield in France. The majority of Pakistani migrants originate from areas with long histories of involvement with Britain. During the 19th century a tradition of army and navy service had developed as a livelihood strategy in the major sending area of Pakistan: the rainfall-dependent, hilly and relatively infertile northern Punjab that includes the districts of Jhelum, Gujrat, Gujranwala, Rawalpindi, and Attock, and Mirpur district in Azad Kashmir. Many Mirpuris had also been in Bombay to work on British merchant ships. It has been estimated that more than half of British Pakistanis originate like Sadiq and Nusrat from Mirpur district alone, while many others originate from neighbouring districts of northern Punjab such as Jhelum and Gujrat (Shaw 2000, Ballard 1990). Migrants also came to the UK from districts in the fertile, irrigated central Punjab, such as Faisalabad, Sahiwal and Sargodha, which also have histories of migration linked to the construction of the canal colonies in the late 19th century (Shaw 2000). The early migrants were mostly single men from small-scale landowning families, motivated largely by the fact that a labourer’s wage in Britain was over thirty times higher than the wage for similar work in Pakistan. Their families invested in sending them abroad on the expectation that their remittances would be used to improve landholdings, build a better house, start a business or provide a dowry (although see Ahmad 2008 for an alternative view). In the main, they started out as sojourners who viewed their migration as temporary, finding work in the industrial cities of London and the Midlands and the textile towns of Yorkshire and Lancashire. During the 1950s and 1960s they usually lived in rented accommodation, owned by Pakistani landlords, and remitted money to Pakistan. They periodically made return visits to Pakistan and sponsored other male family members and village friends to migrate to Britain. The resulting chain migration gave rise to the patterns of local kinship found in most Pakistani settlements in Britain today, which are often specific to particular districts, villages and extended families (Shaw 2000, Anwar 1979, Dahya 1973). This was as true of Sadiq’s village as of many others. As Sadiq’s nephew Shahid laughed: ‘the poora granh (entire village) is here!’. By the time of the 1951 census, there were 10,000 Pakistanis in the UK and 25,000 by 1961 (Peach 2006). By the early 1960s, however, the rights of Commonwealth citizens began to be stripped. These policy changes were prompted by a swell of popular hostility to increasing ‘coloured’ immigration, which appears to have been matched in the views of the policy-making elites. Race riots in Nottingham and Notting Hill in 1958 had the effect of placing immigration high on the political agenda. Concerns within the political elite about a contracting labour market, the nation being ‘swamped’ by immigrants, the ‘social implications’ of introducing ‘other races’ to the country and a desire to separate ‘coloured immigrants’ from ‘white Britons’ brought immigration to centre stage in the parliamentary debates of the early 1960s. Immigration controls were duly introduced (Paul 1997).


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The 1961 Bill made entry to Britain dependent on employment vouchers issued by the Ministry of Labour. The category A and B skilled employment vouchers prompted a diversification of the streams of migrants from Pakistan as they prioritized the movement of urban white-collar workers and university graduates. On the other hand, the category C unskilled employment vouchers were preferentially given to men who had served in the army in the Second World War, reinforcing the patterns of chain migration from the established sending areas (Shaw 2000). Under the 1962 Commonwealth Immigrants Act, tiers of citizenship were introduced, restricting the right of abode to citizens who were born in the UK or with passports issued by the British government (i.e. excluding those with passports issued by colonial governments) (Paul 1997). The threat of immigration controls produced a rush to ‘beat the ban’. Some 50,000 people entered Britain in the eighteen months before July 1962, compared with 17,000 who entered between 1955 and 1960 (Shaw 2000). In Azad Kashmir the migration was accelerated by the construction of the Mangla dam, which uprooted 100,000 people. These displaced people were given compensation money which some used to come to Britain and find work (Anwar 1979). In 1961, the Pakistan government withdrew restrictions on emigration and promoted the migration of 5,000 people (Shaw 2000). Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, immigration controls were tightened and the immigration status of whose who had entered as ‘British citizens’ under the 1948 British Nationality Act was gradually refashioned to be more in line with that of the ‘guest workers’ of continental Europe. In 1964, the Labour government tied the voucher system more closely to the needs of the British economy by closing the unskilled category employment vouchers. In 1965, the distribution of vouchers was cut from 20,000 to 8,500. The 1968 Commonwealth Immigrants Act was introduced as a direct response to fears voiced by Enoch Powell and Duncan Sandrys about the nation being ‘swamped’ by the 200,000 East African Asians with UK passports threatened with expulsion from Kenya. The 1968 Act replaced the 1962 distinctions on where the passport had been issued with the notion of ancestry, denying entry to any UK passport holders who were not born in the UK or did not have parents or grand-parents in the UK. Subsequently, the 1971 Immigration Act introduced more specific controls against ‘coloured’ immigration by overtly splitting the right of abode between ‘patrials’ and ‘non-patrials’. Patrials, who were Commonwealth citizens with British-born parents, comprised mostly White Australians, New Zealanders, Africans and Canadians. In January 1973, Britain joined the European Economic Community (EEC) and millions of European workers automatically gained the right to enter Britain to work, further obviating the need for Commonwealth workers. The rights of those who entered after 1973 were then protected by Immigration Rules, which could be altered much more easily, rather than by the 1971 Act. By the time of the 1981 British Nationality Act, the dismantling of the extra rights of Commonwealth citizens was more-or-less complete (Paul 1997). Most primary immigration had stopped by 1970 as a result of the controls (Ballard 1990). Subsequently a wave of secondary immigration began in earnest,

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for the purposes of family reunion. Generally, the male labour migrants had intended for their wives to remain in Pakistan. The subsequent decisions made by husbands and families to bring wives and children to Britain during the 1970s and 1980s were thus made in the light of these changes in immigration law. Until 1973, wives and dependent children had unrestricted right to join men already in Britain and apply for British citizenship. Nusrat came to England under these rules, bringing three of her four dependent children. The British government’s attempts to control immigration therefore unwittingly played a key part in transforming the largely transitory, male South Asian labour migration into permanent, family based settlement (Spencer 1997). As we saw in Nusrat’s case, however, ‘family-based’ settlement was far from being a discrete or complete process. Children over the age of 16 years did not count as dependents and remained in Pakistan in the care of other relatives, separated from parents and younger siblings. Discretionary rights could, in principle, be extended in such cases, but while some parents made use of them to enable older or adult children to join parents in the UK, others did not or were unable to do so successfully (Shaw 2000, 2004). Nusrat’s decision to leave Nasreen in Pakistan in 1971, undertaken in the fear that bringing all her children would jeopardize their right to entry, reflects the insecurity about immigration that the tightening of immigration regulations had produced in many families, and which resulted in difficult and often unresolved decisions about who would migrate to Britain and who would be left behind. Divided Families and Ideologies of Race and Gender As the bulk of immigration shifted to family reunification so the focus of immigration policy shifted to the control of secondary immigration. This further divided tens of thousands of transmigrant families, but since the entry clearance system was set up in 1969 to relieve ‘congestion’ at the ports of entry, the dramas of family reunification have largely been played out overseas. Over the last thirty years the definition of a legitimate immigrant family has been subjected to numerous revisions: the concept of the family has been narrowed and then broadened. Initially, ideas about what constitutes a legitimate family were framed by a gender ideology that saw men as ‘household heads’ who determined where families would live and women as dependent home-makers who naturally followed their husbands. Family reunification has been a primary means of women’s international migration, with the effect of disempowering female migrants by not recognizing their actual and potential contributions to the labour market (DeLeat 1999). This setting of the boundary of the family around an idealized white nuclear family and the rough-shod application of this definition to diverse family forms has also been profoundly divisive for transmigrant families (Mohanty 1991, WING 1985). As Jopke wryly comments:


Changing Relations of Welfare It became almost impossible to operate against family structures that were radically different from the Euro-American model of the nuclear family. From the British perspective, controlling family reunification from South Asia meant a descent into a strange and exotic world of child brides, polygamy, arranged marriage and talaaq divorces … As interview protocols and secret instruction materials reveal, British immigration and entry clearance officers became practicing anthropologists, with an astounding knowledge of local customs in areas where the ‘pressure to emigrate’ was high (Jopke 1999: 117).

The strategic use of notions of divergent gender ideologies and family practices to restrict primary immigration is exemplified by the ‘husbands ban’. After the 1962 Act, the right of Commonwealth citizens to bring over a spouse and dependent children was restricted to men, but barred to women. This meant that Commonwealth women living in the UK were effectively disallowed from bringing their husbands to join them. The British government defended these laws by arguing that immigrant men were more of a threat to the contracting economy than immigrant women. They insisted that the laws merely reflected common practice, namely that a man determines where his family resides. Furthermore, they argued, it was traditional in Muslim culture that brides should move to their husbands’ homes after marriage. The ‘husbands ban’ discriminated against tens of thousands of women. The majority of the Commonwealth migrant workers in the 1960s had indeed been men, but a significant minority of 20 per cent were women, and 30 per cent of the work permits over the 1970s were issued to women. After the 1971 Act, the citizenship of patrial men (male Commonwealth citizens with British-born parents) provided grounds for giving citizenship to their wives, whereas patrial wives could not do the same for their husbands. Furthermore, dependent women accompanying their husbands in the UK were not permitted to remain independently if the husband left the country or if the marriage ended, contributing to women’s vulnerability and disempowerment (WING 1985). The initial effect of these rulings was to discriminate against Caribbean women, as most of the early migrant women were from the Caribbean rather than from South Asia. Increasingly, however, South Asian women were also caught up in the husbands ban. Amrit Wilson gives the case study of Feroza, a Muslim Ugandan Asian woman who was in the UK with a British passport but on a visitor’s visa. She was married to a Pakistani but unable to bring him to join her. Feroza’s account illustrates her gendered vulnerability and how it was reinforced by the state: ‘every minute of the day I miss him. I am stricken with memories of him. He is prepared to come to Britain and live with me here but I do not know if he will be allowed … If I am forced because of this to return – what then?’ (Wilson 1978: 86). Besides the husbands’ ban and rulings on citizenship, gender-biased laws also regulated the immigration of dependent children, who could only join a single parent in the UK if it could be proved that the parent had the sole responsibility for bringing up the child. For female heads of household it was almost impossible

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to bring over their children if the other parent was not in UK. Again, this law discriminated particularly against single women from the Caribbean who had left their children with other relatives when they first came to the UK (WING 1985). British nationality and immigration laws therefore constructed legitimate citizenship in racialized and gender-biased ways (Mohanty 1991). Although the charge of discrimination on the grounds of race and birth was dismissed, the gender biases were resolved in 1985 when the European Court of Human Rights ruled against all sex discrimination in the Immigration Rules, on the grounds that there was no appreciable difference between the impact of men and women on the labour market. The court reprimanded British immigration law for its ‘antique conception of women as housekeepers’ (Jopke 1999: 123). Perversely, however, the unintended consequence of outlawing this form of sex discrimination was that Section 1(5) of the 1971 Immigration Act had to be dropped: which now meant that family reunion stopped being a statutory right and became a discretionary right. Marriage Migration As Britain’s Pakistani population has undergone demographic change, the nature of secondary family migration has also changed, and correspondingly families have been affected by different aspects of immigration policy. During the 1980s and 1990s the children of pioneer-generation migrants reached marriageable age, and the marriages of second generation British Pakistanis have become the source of the main stream of migrants from Pakistan to the UK. Currently, the normative practice is for young British Pakistanis to marry from Pakistan. As we saw, Nusrat and Sadiq’s eldest son and two of their daughters married transnationally; their daughter Nasreen, in Pakistan, has three sons who married British Pakistani women; and their grandson Afzal also married Aneesa from Pakistan. Marriage is now the main source of new settlement migration between Pakistan and the UK. In 2000 over 10,000 Pakistani nationals gained entry clearance to join British citizens as spouses (Home Office 2001). The current popularity of Pakistani transnational marriages, most of which take place with first cousins or other kin, has complex socio-economic, cultural and emotional motivations (Charsley and Shaw 2006, Charsley 2003, Shaw 2001). These include the socio-economic significance of emigration in migrants’ sending areas and the impact of foreign remittances on the Pakistan economy (Ballard 2003, Talbot 1998, Ballard 1989). In the current situation, where migration to the UK is highly controlled but still highly desirable, marriage has become one of the few, and one of the most competitive routes to getting entry to the UK. Viewing transnational marriage from the Pakistan end, ‘first world’ citizenship is sought-after and confers higher status to the family with links overseas (Charsley 2003). Shahid poignantly described this balance of status in his narrative of Afzal’s marriage to Aneesa:


Changing Relations of Welfare Afzal told me when he went over there to look for a rishta that driver of his or whatever, they just lined the daughters all up, all 15 or 16 of them all in a row. And he didn’t know what to do – I mean, it was like ‘Pop idol’ or something! ‘Dulhan idol’ [dulhan means ‘bride’]. And he said he chose the shyest one, the one at the back who didn’t say anything. That’s how he chose his wife … Man.

The stated preference for marrying within the family, strongly motivated by concerns to maintain social and affective ties with known and trusted kin, has a special importance in the transnational context, for both the UK-based and Pakistan-based kin (Shaw and Charsley 2006). At the Pakistan end, kin and close friends can put intense pressure on British Pakistani parents to arrange transnational rishtas, as we saw in Nusrat’s daughter Nasreen’s expectations for her own daughters’ marriages, sometimes effectively ‘grooming’ a particular son or daughter for marriage migration in long-standing vicarious reciprocation for not having themselves migrated in the first generation (see also Chopra 2005, Shaw 2000). Between 1980 and 1997 the right to marriage migration was controlled through the ‘primary purpose rule’, which stated that marriage should not be contracted for the purpose of economic migration. The rule presumed the existence of ‘bogus’ applications and put the onus on the applicant to prove that the marriage was genuine. After the elimination of the husbands ban, marriage migration was no longer contingent on sex and citizenship but on the subjective grounds of ‘intention’ (Jopke 1999). The assessment of genuine marriage was left in the hands of the entry clearance officers, who had few objective criteria on which to judge the intention behind a settlement application. White British cultural perspectives on marriage pervade in the formulation of the Immigration Rules, in that criteria such as proof of having met and the practice of living together discriminate against the migration of spouses from arranged marriages, where there is no tradition of pre-marital courtship. In marriages between British Pakistanis and Pakistani nationals it was common for spousal reunion in the UK to be delayed by a matter of years whilst the couple ran the gauntlet of proving the genuineness of the marriage. The primary purpose rule was abolished in 1997, after criticism that it had been specifically designed to discourage South Asian immigration through arranged marriages (Menski 1997). Since the abolition, the numbers of husbands granted visas to Britain have increased to the point where there have been almost equal numbers of male and female migrant spouses in recent years (Home Office 2001). Nevertheless, the assumption that marriage migration is primarily motivated by economic migration continues to pervade the immigration laws. The current two year rule requires fiancés/fiancées and spouses migrating to Britain to prove that they have lived together for two years in demonstration that the marriage is not motivated (solely) by the desire to settle in the UK. Wives have a probationary period of one year during which their immigration status is insecure and they are

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not entitled to state welfare; if the marriage fails within the year they have no right to remain in the country (Wilson 2006). A further restriction on marriage migration is the requirement, in the 1988 Immigration Act, that the British spouse proves they have adequate income and accommodation to support their overseas spouse ‘without recourse to public funds’. The current rules require a British spouse, irrespective of gender, to prove that they have been in work and off social welfare for six months before the overseas spouse is permitted entry clearance. For British Pakistani women making transnational marriages, this has particular implications for gendered norms regarding paid employment and domestic power relations, discussion of which is beyond the scope of this chapter (see Harriss 2007, Charsley 2003). It also puts pressure on men because for young British Pakistani men it can often be difficult to meet the requirement of holding down a job for the required six months. The majority of British Pakistanis settled in areas that experienced economic restructuring and decline during the 1980s (Green 1997). Compared to other ethnic groups in the UK British Pakistanis and Bangladeshis have the highest levels of unemployment and economic inactivity (Modood and Berthoud 1997). Afzal’s inability to hold down a job for six months is why he cannot apply for Aneesa’s spousal visa. It is still common that for couples like Afzal and Aneesa marriage migration may be delayed for years on these grounds. Migration for Family Care Further demographic changes within the British Pakistani population mean that families have increasingly been affected by other areas of immigration policy. The pioneer migrant generation is ageing, as are their immediate family members in Pakistan (Rendall and Ball 2004). Elderly parents account for a significant number of visit visas from Pakistan every year, because many of their adult children in the UK desire to look after them if they can. Umbreen’s mother-in-law, for example, divides her time between the village in Azad Kashmir and her children in the UK, usually spending a month a year in London. The individuals in these transnational networks increasingly express a desire for elderly extended family members, such as parents or aunts or uncles left vulnerable by widowhood or childlessness, to be able to settle permanently in Britain, to enable their more long-term care. Immigration policy also constructs men and women as gendered subjects in relation to migration for the purposes of family care. In the mid-1980s the Immigration Rules stated that widowed mothers of any age were permitted to join children in Britain if it could be proved that they were financially dependent on children settled in the UK and had no other relatives to support them, whereas widowed fathers were only permitted entry if they were over 65 years (WING 1985). Today, the age limit is 65 years to join children or grandchildren in the UK for men and women, or below 65 years if they are living alone outside the UK in ‘exceptional compassionate circumstances’. Apart from parents


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and grandparents, other adult relatives (such as aunts and uncles, siblings or children) may join family members in the UK under ‘exceptional’ or ‘compelling compassionate circumstances’ – again, provided that they can prove that they are genuinely dependent on the sponsor (UK Visas 2004). The Immigration Rules do not officially distinguish the perception of need by gender. However, in legal practice, constructions of ‘compassionate circumstances’ are gendered. There are few objective guidelines for assessing whether an applicant’s circumstances are ‘exceptionally’ compassionate circumstances. Women who are living alone without male protection in societies deemed to be highly patriarchal are considered to be in compassionate circumstances, although these may not be deemed ‘exceptionally’ compassionate unless there are other significant factors present, such as ill-health. As the following account of Shazia and her aunt illustrates, entry clearance officers continue to use their knowledge of local customs strategically for the purposes of immigration control rather than to understanding transmigrants’ more inclusive notions about the boundaries of their families – what Jopke has called a ‘mischevious way of using multiculturalism’ (Jopke 1999: 119). Shazia Shazia is a woman in her forties raised in London, who forged a strong relationship with her father’s sister Khadija whilst she was living in Pakistan following an unsuccessful marriage at the age of sixteen. Shazia has supported Khadija single-handedly for decades, after returning to England and subsequently marrying again. When Khadija was widowed in July 2004 Shazia attempted to bring her to Britain. As Shazia put it in her letter of 8 September 2004 to UK Visas: ‘She has no relatives left in Pakistan that she can live with. She has no body but myself and my husband to look after her … My Aunt is very vulnerable as she has no male figure to look after her in Pakistan’. Khadija’s application was initially rejected, however, on the grounds that she ought to have recourse to support via the traditional Pakistani ‘joint’ family. As the entry clearance officer wrote in his letter of 10 January 2005: ‘you have some twelve cousins in Pakistan and at least one sister, whom you failed to mention. I do not find it credible that in a family oriented society such as Pakistan, that there is no one in this country who is willing to look after you.’ The entry clearance officer thus assumed that Khadija’s relatives in Pakistan ought to be ‘family oriented’ and step in to provide assistance, but that Shazia should not be expected to provide assistance. The essentialized representation of Pakistanis as ‘family oriented’ was accepted whilst it was in Pakistan, but the same logic was not extended to the matter of immigration. This instrumental, strategic use of the notion of culture is an example of what Benhabib calls ‘cultural puppetry’ (Benhabib 2002). Landmark cases in immigration law have established that the presence of a family tie is not sufficient evidence of genuine dependence on the sponsor. The applicant must also prove that their only chance to experience family life,

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in the sense of everyday interaction and affective interdependence, is with their relatives in the UK. The definitions of family ties and responsibilities in relation to ‘compassionate circumstances’ are currently being negotiated piecemeal in the process of routine immigration hearings and tribunals across the UK (Harriss and Shaw 2006). In these ways, immigration policies have had a profound impact on the current constitution of British Pakistani families. Gendered constructions of legitimate citizenship and legitimate immigrant families have been manipulated strategically to suit the needs of British economy and politics without giving any concern for transmigrants’ own understandings of ‘family’. As Pnina Werbner writes: The continued tightening of immigration controls strikes at the very roots of British Pakistanis’ deepest loyalties: to close kinsmen, dependents, and in relation to unquestionable family obligations. The controls deny axiomatic rights to marry by personal choice, to employ kinsmen in family businesses, to bring over brothers or married children. The restrictions on immigration are thus perceived as being fundamentally inhuman – and therefore unquestionably racist (Werbner 1990: 6).

Normative Welfare Policies and Diverse Family Practices In our experience, many British Pakistanis view state welfare with ambivalence, and articulate concerns about the role the state plays in undermining ‘traditional’ family life. As Nasrullah puts it: ‘the environment here is completely wrong, it’s topsy-turvy. The government gives them a house and money, so the children don’t need to respect their parents’. In comparison, the Pakistani extended family can be regarded as a unit for ensuring the welfare of its members, in which all members are cared for according notions of duty (farz) and responsibility (zimedari), which reflect gender, age and status in the family. As we saw, these processes can be disrupted by transnational migration. Simultaneously, British Pakistanis have reconstituted their families and settled in ways that allow local patterns of kinship to emerge, including via the proximal residence of their married children (see Shaw 2000, 2003). These patterns of local kinship are central to realizing Pakistani ideals regarding family care for children, disabled people and the elderly. In particular, networks of female kin allow fluid transfers of reproductive work between households. Kin in separate nearby households in effect constitute a single domestic unit similar to the matrilinear extended family that has traditionally been found in working-class White British neighbourhoods (Young and Willmott 1957). In the UK, the expectation of family-based care is a prominent part of the ‘nostalgic memory’ (Falzon 2003) that British Pakistanis have for Pakistan, and it exerts strong normative pressures. British Pakistanis frequently express the opinion that family care is an integral element of ‘the culture’ and ‘the religion’.


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As such, family care is a morally-laden practice that serves to define British Pakistanis as a moral community, in contrast to ‘English’ society (Harriss 2007, Murtuja 2005). Perwaiz, echoing many other comments, remarked pointedly that ‘our culture is totally different than you, because we have to respect our parents’. For some, it can be a matter of honour that kin should look after children, people with disabilities and the elderly without seeking state support. These normative ideals conspire to reduce the engagement of British Pakistani families with welfare services, even where their need is extreme. There is therefore some truth in the stereotype that Asian families ‘look after their own’. However, this stereotype conceals the tensions and contestations that exist in the negotiation of family care among British Pakistani families. Support for carers from both the nuclear and extended family can be limited (Katbamna et al. 2004). The stereotype of family support thus fails to take account of the reality of family dynamics and socio-economic circumstances, the constraints of work and housing and patterns of circulatory migration (Shaw 2004). Those who slip through the net of family care, or whose circumstances are such that family care is inadequate or oppressive, may benefit significantly from state support. State support can be particularly significant in enabling women, who can otherwise have limited entitlements to resources beyond those accessed via their husbands, to live independently in circumstances of divorce, separation or widowhood (Mand 2005). The stereotype that South Asians ‘look after their own’ has, furthermore, become an assumption that negatively influences the delivery of welfare services in the UK (Atkins and Rollings 1996). Furthermore, the assumptions about family provisioning and patterns of resource pooling that are embedded in the provision of welfare services are normatively drawn from White British families and cater inappropriately for other ethnic groups in the UK. The following example of Nighat and Ali’s household illustrates some of the mismatches that can ensue. Nighat and Ali Nighat is about 60 and has mobility problems due to her arthritis and obesity. She came to England after she got married some 40 years ago. She has four sons and two daughters. Her two daughters have married relatives from Pakistan and live nearby, visiting on a near daily basis. Nighat is currently living in the ‘main house’ with their youngest son Masood and his wife Nadia, who is from Pakistan. Nighat and Ali lived for about five years with all of their sons and daughter-in-laws, but as the couples started having children and the pressure on space mounted, conflicts in the house became inescapable. The second son moved out into a nearby house, owned by Ali and his brothers, that was usually rented out in the name of the third son. To give the young people more space Nighat and Ali eventually moved to a flat above one of the shops they owned. They lived above the flat for nearly seven years. However, when Nighat’s arthritis deteriorated to the point where she could no longer get up and down the stairs, she and Ali decided to move back to the

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main house. At that time their oldest son Kamran was living there with his wife and children. However, when Nighat and Ali moved back Masood, the youngest, swapped houses with Kamran, so that Nadia, the youngest and only childless daughter-in-law, could look after Nighat. Nadia does the cooking and cleaning, and helps Nighat get dressed and off the bed or the settee when she feels it is beyond her strength. The numerous moves have created some problems in Nighat’s ‘paperwork’. Nighat doesn’t read English and stores official-looking letters in a collection of plastic supermarket bags, with no regard to providence or chronology. The bureaucratic problems came to a head when Nighat turned 60 and tried to register as a pensioner. Ali receives his pension at the address of the flat above the shop, but in her application form Nighat gave the address of the main house. The pensions office noticed the discrepancy and became suspicious that a husband and wife should apparently be living at different addresses, and requested proof of their marriage. Unfortunately, however, at some stage over the last 40 years Nighat has misplaced her Islamic marriage certificate, so her case is now being investigated by the marriage verification unit. Meanwhile, her application for a disabled badge for her car has stalled. She wanted to request badges for six different cars – as she said, she has six different children with six different cars, and who knows which particular child might be driving her to her hospital appointments when she needs it. Tsing defines marginality as a paradoxical position of evading and clinging to the state: ‘marginals stand outside the state by tying themselves to it; they constitute the state locally by fleeing from it’ (Tsing 1993: 26). This is a useful formulation for understanding the position of British Pakistanis in relation to the state: doubly marginalized by virtue of their dependence on it, and simultaneously, their difficulties and reluctance in engaging with it. Of all the main ethnic groups in the UK, British Pakistanis and Bangladeshis have the highest levels of receipt of means-tested benefits (Platt 2002). In large part, this reflects the fact that family reunion occurred during economic recession, and families were reconstituted in areas of rising unemployment (Green 1997, Modood and Berthoud 1997). Conversely however, research on the delivery of social security indicates overwhelmingly that there are more barriers to the uptake of benefits amongst ethnic minority groups than in the White British majority (Salway et al. 2007, Craig 2004, Platt 2003a, Bloch 1997, Craig and Rai 1996, Bloch 1993, Law et al. 1993). For British Pakistanis, these problems arise partly because people lack the skills and confidence to deal appropriately with state agencies and some cases reach the attention of social services very late (Craig 2004, Shaw 2004, Bloch 1993, Scharf et al. 2003). Negotiating state welfare requires time and skill, and resolving problems is especially difficult for the elderly whose spoken English and literacy is often poor. Notices displayed in benefits and housing offices advertising the availability of interpreters or telephone translation services may go unnoticed by those who cannot read. Although it is known that few applications for benefits are successful when


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not assisted by professional help, professional services are underused by British Pakistanis, who rely on assistance from family members and other prominent community members, particularly those who are literate, English-speaking and polite, or otherwise have some ‘know how’ or ‘magic touch’ with bureaucracy. Negotiation also requires adequate documentation. Nighat’s problems with being unable to find the relevant documents recur in many households where such papers are often thrown away – or, in the case of an elderly woman named Shenaz, hung on coat-hanger wire. Indeed, it is often those whose need is greatest who experience the most difficulties with documentation, as also do people who are low-skilled and subsisting on a low-income and largely informalized livelihood. Shenaz, for instance, is a childless woman whose application for income support was rejected on the grounds that she and her husband had ‘wasted’ their savings on religious pilgrimage and trips to Pakistan. The couple could not produce documentation to prove how they had used their savings, or how they currently subsist, which they do mainly with informal support from Shenaz’s brother and undocumented credit from local shops (see Shaw 2004). British Pakistani families are also institutionally disadvantaged in state welfare because there are systematic divergences between their family practices and the assumptions underpinning social welfare, which are normatively based on White British family practices. In Nighat and Ali’s case, there is extensive pooling of resources between the nuclear families. Although each of the properties has been earmarked for specific sons, they are still, in practice, jointly controlled by Ali, and the sons move between the houses by discussing the matter between themselves. They think of the boundaries of their family inclusively, as a unit that overarches several nearby households orbiting the main house. Similarly, Nighat’s request for disabled badges for all her children’s cars reflects her expectation of family care and shared responsibility, whereas, in fact, the local authority issues a single badge, registered to a particular car, not to a driver. The realities of their family life are at odds with a benefits system oriented around a normative nuclear family. The discrepancies between state assumptions about family functioning and the realities of provisioning where families take diverse forms are not specific to British Pakistanis but penalize divergent families of all backgrounds, including ethnic majority White families (Salway et al. 2007). For example, social security assumes that husbands and wives pool their resources collectively. Many benefits are not granted to individuals but to benefits units, which include spouses or cohabiting partners, and dependent children. Many women therefore claim benefits via their husbands. Such arrangements are prejudicial to women whose spouses or partners do not share income with them. This is particularly significant for British Pakistani women, who often have little individuated access to income in an economic system predicated on ikathe (togetherness), and whose own earnings are often given to male kin (Harriss 2007, Bhopal 1999). Welfare rulings can impact heavily upon the practice of kinship in low-income families, in ways that reproduce ‘traditional’ patterns of gender roles and reinforce imbalances of gendered power.

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British Pakistani families also experience particular disadvantage in the benefits system by virtue of their larger family size. Income Support payments are relatively disadvantageous to large families as they assume intra-familial economies of scale and do not additively increase for each extra child (Bradshaw et al. 2006). For British Pakistani families on Income Support there are greater shortfalls in income to support the cost of children than in any of the other ethnic groups in the UK, apart from the Bangladeshis (Platt 2003b). The benefits rules are also institutionally biased against transnationalism. For those with transitional immigration status, there has been a progressive removal of state entitlements paralleling the dismantling of the rights of Commonwealth citizens. Since 2002, those seeking UK residence have been subject to a two-year probationary period during which they are not entitled to means-tested or non-contributory benefits. Residence requirements like the ‘habitual residence test’ also define eligibility for certain groups of benefits. As transmigrants who often spend substantial periods of time away from Britain, British Pakistanis lose social security entitlements (Platt 2003a). Furthermore, immigration law also strongly deters the claiming of benefits. Since the 1988 Immigration Act, immigration law has stipulated that a spouse from a country like Pakistan only has the right to enter the UK if the sponsor (i.e. the British spouse) has adequate income and accommodation to support their overseas spouse without recourse to public funds. In the endeavour to prove their financial health and protect the immigration prospects of their spouses, many British Pakistanis are forced to survive without welfare benefits for six months. The state, in Das and Poole’s words, is ‘illegible’ (Das and Poole 2004); it speaks with multiple voices, and makes contradictory demands of its citizens. Conclusion This chapter has discussed a number of ways in which the state has influenced family form and function among British Pakistanis. Definitions of legitimate migrant families according to immigration law have narrowed and broadened, significantly influencing the process of family reconstitution and community development in the UK. Legitimate migrant families have also been defined in racialized and gendered ways, with the effect of rendering migrant women more vulnerable in relation to the state. The state has failed to recognize the legacy and intergenerational reproduction of transnationalism through marriage migration, and it has helped to reproduce ‘traditional’ patterns of gender roles and gendered power within British Pakistani families. Despite being particularly in need of social care and welfare benefits, British Pakistanis experience more extensive barriers in accessing them than the White British majority, and are therefore doubly marginalized in relation to the state. Finally, welfare policies have been insensitive to family structures and practices that diverge from the normative ideals pervading the structure of welfare services. It penalizes British Pakistanis by virtue of their larger family size, and contributes to reproducing ‘traditional’ patterns


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of gender roles and gendered power within British Pakistani families, colluding with patriarchy. To summarize our arguments, we suggest that, as Chaudhuri has said: ‘state boundaries matter, and impinge often violently on people, particularly the poor and marginalized’ (Chaudhuri 2005: 285). To this, we would add they also particularly impinge upon people whose family practices diverge from the normative ideals of the ethnic majority in the UK. References Ahmad, A.N. 2008. Gender and generation on Pakistani migration: a critical study of masculinity, in Gendering Migration: Masculinity, Femininity and Ethnicity in Postwar Britain, edited by L. Ryan and W. Webster. Aldershot: Ashgate, 155–170. Anwar, M. 1979. The Myth of Return: Pakistanis in Britain. London: Heinemann. Atkins, K. and Rollings, J. 1996. Looking after their own? Family care-giving among Asian and Afro-Carribean communities, in ‘Race’ and Community Care edited by W.I.U. Ahmad and K. Atkin. Buckingham: Open University Press, 73–86. Ballard, R. 1989. Overseas migration and its consequences: the case of Pakistan, in The Sociology of Developing Societies: South Asia, edited by H. Alavi and J. Harriss. London: Macmillan, 112–20. Ballard, R. 1990. Migration and kinship: the differential effect of marriage rules on the processes of Punjabi migration to Britain, in South Asians Overseas, edited by C. Clarke et al. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 219–49. Ballard, R. (ed.). 1996. Desh Pardesh: The South Asian Presence in Britain. Delhi: DK Publishers. Ballard, R. 2003. A case of capital-rich under-development: the paradoxical consequences of successful transnational entrepreneurship from Mirpur. Contributions to Indian Sociology, 37, 51–81. Benhabib, S. 2002. The Claims of Culture: Equality and Diversity in the Global Era. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Bhopal, K. 1999. Domestic finance in South Asian households in East London. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 25(1), 81–93. Bloch, A. 1993. Access to Benefits: The Information Needs of Minority Ethnic Groups. London: Policy Studies Institute. Bloch, A. 1997. Ethnic inequality and social security, in Britain Divided: The Growth of Social Exclusion in the 1980s and 1990s, edited by A. Walker and C. Walker. London: CPAG, 111–22. Bradshaw, J., Finch, N., Mayhew, E., Ritakillio, V. and Skinner, C. 2006. Child Poverty in Large Families. Bristol: The Policy Press. Charsley, K. 2003. Rishtas: Transnational Pakistani Marriages. PhD Thesis. Department of Anthropology. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh.

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Mand, K. 2005. Marriage and migration through the life course: experiences of widowhood, separation and divorce amongst transnational Sikh women. Indian Journal of Gender Studies, 12(2–3), 407–25. Menski, W. 1997. South Asian Muslim law today: an overview. Sharqiyyat, 9(1), 16–36. Migdal, J.S. 2001. State in Society: Studying How States and Societies Transform and Constitute One Another. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Mitchell, T. 1991. The limits of the state: beyond statist approaches and their critics. American Political Science Review, 85(1), 77–96. Modood, T. and Berthoud, R. 1997. Ethnic Minorities in Britain: Diversity and Disadvantage. London: Policy Studies Institute. Mohanty, C.T. 1991. Cartographies of Struggle, in Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism, edited by C.T. Mohanty et al. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1–50. Murtuja, S.B. 2005. Pakistani Muslim communities in Britain and Germany: informal family care of elders and processes of social exclusion. PhD Thesis. Leeds: School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds. Parry, J. 2001. Anakalu’s errant wife: sex, marriage and industry in contemporary Chhattishgarh. Modern Asian Studies, 35(4), 783–820. Paul, K. 1997. Whitewashing Britain: Race and Citizenship in the Postwar Era. New York: Cornell University Press. Peach, C. 2006. Demographics of BrAsian settlement, 1951–2001, in A Postcolonial People: South Asians in Britain, edited by N. Ali et al. London: Hurst and Company, 168–81. Platt, L. 2002. Parallel Lives? Poverty Among Ethnic Minority Groups in Britain. London: Child Poverty Action Group. Platt, L. 2003a. Social security in a multi-ethnic society, in Understanding Social Security: Issues for Policy and Practice, edited by J. Millar. Bristol: The Policy Press. Platt, L. 2003b. Ethnicity and inequality: British children’s experience of means-tested benefits. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 34(3), 357–77. Rendall, M.S. and Ball, D.J. 2004. Immigration, emigration and the ageing of the overseas-born population of the United Kingdom. Population Trends, 116, 18–27. Salway, S., Platt, L., Chowbey, P., Harriss, K. and Bayliss, E. 2007. Long-term Ill-health, Poverty and Ethnicity: A Mixed-Methods Investigation into the Experiences of Living with Chronic Health Conditions in the UK. Bristol: The Policy Press. Scharf, T., Phillipson, C. and Kingston, P. 2003. Older People in Deprived Neighbourhoods: Social Exclusion and Quality of Life in Old Age. Swindon: ESRC Research Findings: 19 from the Growing Older Programme. Shaw, A. 2000. Kinship and Continunity: Pakistani Families in Britain. The Netherlands: Harwood Academic Publishers.

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Shaw, A. 2001. Kinship, cultural preference and immigrations: consanguineous marriage among British Pakistanis. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 7(2), 315–34. Shaw, A. 2003. Immigrant families in the UK, in Blackwell Companion to the Sociology of Families, edited by J. Treas et al. Malden: Blackwell, 270–86. Shaw, A. 2004. British Pakistani elderly without children: an invisible minority, in Ageing without Children: European and Asian Perspectives, edited by P. Kreager and E. Schroeder-Butterfill. New York, Oxford: Beghahn Books, 198–221. Shaw, A. and Charsley, K. 2006. Rishtas: adding emotion to strategy in understanding British Pakistani transnational marriages. Global Networks, 6(4), 405–21. Spencer, I.R.G. 1997. British Immigration Policy Since 1939: The Making of Multi-Racial Britain. London: Routledge. Talbot, I. 1998. Pakistan: A Modern History. New York: St Martin’s Press. Tsing, A.L. 1993. In the Realm of the Diamond Queen. Princeton: Princeton University Press. UK Visas 2004. Diplomatic Service Procedures: Entry Clearance Volume 1. London: HMSO. Werbner, P. 1990. The Migration Process: Capital, Gifts and Offerings among British Pakistanis. Oxford: Berg. Wilson, A. 1978. Finding a Voice. London: Virago. Wilson, A. 2006. Dreams, Questions, Struggles: South Asian Women in Britain. London and Sydney: Pluto. WING. 1985. Worlds Apart: Women Under Immigration and Nationality Law. London and Sydney: Pluto. Young, M. and Willmott, P. 1957. Family and Kinship in East London. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

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Chapter 7

The Multicultural Challenge to the Danish Welfare State: Tensions between Gender Equality and Diversity Birte Siim and Anette Borchorst

Introduction The Scandinavian countries have witnessed intense debates about the effects of increased immigration on the Scandinavian welfare states, family and gender relations. The purpose of this chapter is to analyse the multicultural challenge to the Danish welfare and gender regimes by exploring the different political approaches to gender equality and family relations. In turn, it discusses different interpretations of the meaning and implications of migration and multiculturalism in relation to gender and family relations. The focus is on the tensions in policy reforms and on the contradictions in the dominant discourses about gender equality and family relations. Danish exceptionalism is explored by employing a comparative Scandinavian approach. The three Scandinavian countries, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, belong to the same welfare and gender regimes, and social and family policies have, since the 1970s, been modelled around principles of universalism and individual rights, including the right, and increasingly also the obligation, for both women and men to engage in waged work. The countries have been referred to as women-friendly welfare states, but this has been criticized for glossing over inequalities between women according to social and ethnic background. The countries, which for many years were relatively homogenous, have witnessed the increased immigration of third country nationals outside the European Union (EU) and North America since the 1960s and especially since the late 1980s. This has increased differences among women in the labour market and in society and has triggered public debates about the perceived oppression of migrant women by their families, religion and cultures. Recent debates in political and gender theory have raised important questions about the relations between gender equality, welfare policies and multiculturalism. A controversial issue has been whether feminism and multiculturalism belong to two conflicting equality projects (Okin 1999, Parekh 1999) or whether they are overlapping projects allied in the struggle for equal rights and social justice (Phillips 2007, Kymlicka 1999). Today, gender equality has become a universally


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accepted principle and there is an important debate about the intersection of gender inequality, inequalities associated with ethnicity/race and other kinds of inequalities (Yuval-Davis 2006). The premise of this chapter is that gender relations are deeply embedded in national cultures and institutions and that the multicultural challenge to gender equality therefore needs to be explored through comparative research and, more specifically, from the context of Scandinavian welfare and gender regimes (Lister et al. 2007). We begin by exploring how welfare, gender and immigration regimes relate to each other theoretically and empirically, and we address the debate on whether multiculturalism and diversity constitute a threat to the notion of potentially women-friendly Scandinavian welfare states. We then discuss the specificities of Danish welfare, gender equality and immigration policies in relation to the Norwegian and Swedish policies, focusing on the implications of the Scandinavian approaches to welfare and gender equality for the recognition of cultural diversity. In this the Danish case is unique, because the country has moved from an open to a strict immigration regime and has, since 2002, adopted one of the most restrictive immigration regimes in Europe (Siim 2007, Lister et al. 2007). We argue that this political development has had dramatic effects on the rights and duties of ethnic minority groups and their families; for example, the right to welfare benefits and family reunification. The third section explores these equality dilemmas in the Danish welfare state by focusing in more detail on public and political debates about gender equality from the perspective of ethnic minority groups. It analyses how the dominant liberal approach to the family, based on arguments about autonomy and free choice, contrasts with the restrictive, anti-liberal regulation and state intervention for migrants and their families. This is illustrated by the government’s action plans for gender equality and action plans against forced and arranged marriages, which explicitly target migrant women. We identify a contrast in the framing of the dominant integration and equality discourse between the targeting of gender equality in migrant families and the lack of concern for gender equality for the ethnic Danish majority. The final section returns to the Scandinavian model and discusses different research issues and strategies in order to analyse the challenges from migration to Scandinavia, focusing on the intersection of gender equality and diversity. The Women-friendly Scandinavian Welfare States and the Multicultural Challenge The three Scandinavian countries are often included in the same welfare and gender regime. ‘Regime’ is an established concept in welfare state research related to different patterns and configurations of market, state and the family, and refers to systematic relations between elements of a system. The main reason for using this concept is to emphasize a number of key elements in order to theorize

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variations. In spite of much criticism of the key concepts and defining variables, the countries are very often included in the same Social Democratic cluster, which is characterized by a high level of universal and many tax-financed benefits. Comparative scholarship has debated to what extent the Scandinavian welfare regime is premised on homogenous populations and whether developments towards multiculturalism will undermine some of its basic characteristics. One position claims that universalism and multiculturalism are contradictory phenomena (Wolfe and Klausen 2000), whereas another position questions this (Banting and Kymlicka 2006). This debate remains central both in scholarly and political debates. More comparative research is needed into the interplay between discourses, public policies and social practice in the Scandinavian cases, as well as into the interactions of welfare and gender policies. We agree, however, that the recognition of cultural diversity does not per se preclude re-distributive policies. Comparisons between Denmark and Sweden indicate that a key factor in shaping public policies is the framing of the issues; that is, whether public and political discourse label diversity as a threat or an asset and whether the political majority frames ethnic minority groups as some of ‘them’ or as part of ‘us’, instead of perceiving diversity as an asset (Hedetoft et al. 2006). The Scandinavian welfare states have different approaches towards and policies on immigration, and Denmark and Sweden in many ways represent two extremes. Sweden has much stronger multicultural policies, whereas Denmark has gradually adopted more restrictive immigration policies (Hedetoft et al. 2006). A recent study undertaken for the Nordic Council, of the challenges to the Nordic welfare regimes from migration, confirms this, but at the same time indicates that in spite of differences in governments’ policies and discourses on immigration, similar problems exist concerning integration of immigrants into the labour market and society more generally (Brochmann and Hagelund 2005). Migrant women are said to present a special challenge for Scandinavian governments because of their low labour-market participation compared to women in the ethnic majority populations, who for several decades have had record high employment rates within the area of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Feminist scholars usually agree that the Scandinavian countries share basic characteristics that make it meaningful to include them in the same gender regime, and there is a similar debate in gender research about the ability of the Scandinavian gender regime to accommodate diversity. The notion of a gender regime is used in order to compare differences in the gender systems in relation to key dimensions; for example, women’s waged work and political participation. There is, however, no  The study illustrates that the welfare state may potentially function as a mechanism for both inclusion of the majority and exclusion of ethnic minority groups and concludes that although migration has created problems mainly for the welfare state, it may in the future help to solve the problems of labour shortage.


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agreement about the defining elements of a gender regime. Scandinavian feminist scholars have emphasized the positive role of the welfare state, particularly in relation to reproduction (Borchorst and Siim 2002, 2008, Hernes 1987), as well as the importance of state feminism and women’s political agency (Siim and Skjeie 2008, Siim 2000, Hernes 1987). Other feminists, on the other hand, often focus on women’s relation to waged work and distinguish between models with different emphases on male breadwinning (Lewis 1992, 2001). Sylvia Walby has proposed an alternative gender model that aims at analysing the ongoing transformations of the gender regime from a domestic to a public form. Her model distinguishes between the form of the gender regime and the degree of gender inequality (Walby 2004: 7–11). This is a complex model, which distinguishes between different domains – the economic and those of the polity and civil society – as well as between different levels of a gender regime. It is also a dynamic approach and identifies three (of several potential) models of transition to a public gender regime: (a) the social democratic public service route developed in the Nordic countries; (b) the market-led route followed in the USA; and (c) a regulatory route developed in particular by the EU. Comparisons of the Scandinavian welfare and gender regimes focusing on the interplay between the mobilization of women and social and gender equality policies confirm that in spite of a number of differences (see Bergqvist et al.1999), the Scandinavian countries also share basic characteristics: (a) a strong dual-breadwinner model based on a system of public childcare services and generous maternity and parental leave; (b) a relatively high number of women in the national political elite; and (c) a strong discourse about gender equality as part of both public policies and the private life of citizens. The Norwegian political scientist Helga M. Hernes (1987) claimed that the Scandinavian welfare states have a potential to become ‘women-friendly’, defined as policies that ‘would not force harder choices on women than on men, or permit unjust treatment on the basis of sex’ (Hernes 1987: 15); for example, public childcare that would increase women’s options as well as their autonomy. Hernes’s approach was founded on a grand vision of gender equality that combines social rights for women with state feminism, which refers to women’s political inclusion. Her vision was of a society ‘where injustice on the basis of gender would be largely eliminated without an increase in other forms of inequality, such as among groups of women’ (Hernes 1987: 15). Hernes’s concept of women-friendliness has had an important influence on feminist scholarship, welfare state researchers and political theorists. As mentioned   The first level is that of the regime that designates the overall social system. The second level contains various forms of gender regime differentiated along two dimensions – the continuum from domestic to public and the degree of gender inequality. The third level comprises a series of domains: the economic and those of the polity and civil society, as mentioned above. The fourth level is that of a series of social practices (Walby 2004: 10).

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earlier, women-friendliness is an ambiguous concept with greater metaphorical strength than descriptive and analytical potential, which makes it difficult to use in order to assess concrete social policies. Women-friendliness is linked to state feminism and it points towards the interconnectedness of social policies and gender equality as well as to the importance of women’s political agency. It refers to the content, agency and effects of state policies, and it is therefore useful to distinguish analytically between social and political dimensions of women-friendliness (Borchorst and Siim 2002), as well as between the role of women’s agency and the effects of public policies. Comparative research has illustrated that social rights and political representation have different characteristics, history and dynamics that are often contradictory, and it is only in the Scandinavian case that the extension of social rights was followed by inclusion of women in the national political elite (Siim, 2000). Hernes’s approach to gender equality has been employed as a universal model, but was in fact premised on a dual-breadwinner model and thus revealed its bias towards the Scandinavian welfare system (Borchorst and Siim 2008). The Scandinavian welfare and gender regime has been criticized for exacerbating the gender segregation of the labour market, which is characterized by considerable power inequalities between men employed in top positions in the private sector and in the universities and women employed in the public sector (Hirdman 1990). The notion of ‘women-friendliness’, as well as state feminism, was based on women’s common social positions and premised on their common interests vis-à-vis the welfare state. This raises the question as to whether it is still useful today, since migration has increased both cultural differences and social and political inequalities among women. Scandinavian feminist scholars have begun to criticize the present welfare and gender equality policies for neglecting the perspective of migrants, and to debate to what extent the notion of ‘women-friendliness’ is premised on a normative vision of gender equality that ignores diversities among women, thus making alternative perspectives on gender and family relations invisible. Diversities among women, as well as the perceived conflicts between the dominant norms of gender equality and the cultural norms of migrant families, including the diversity of family norms, have recently become a central issue in feminist research (Siim 2008, Siim and Skjeie 2008, Bredal 2006). Postcolonial feminists have also criticized feminist research for producing a hegemonic picture of gender and femininity that makes power inequalities among women invisible (Andreassen 2005), and have started to analyse the material basis for the new inequalities between the ‘white’ majority and migrant women (los Reyes et al. 2003: 31). The Danish Welfare and Gender Regime Since the 1970s, the Danish gender equality and welfare regime has been characterized by a high degree of social equality and a strong tradition of


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participatory democracy, voluntary associations and grass-roots organization. The Danish labour-market institutions are relatively autonomous, with labour-market organizations playing a key role in regulation, and the Danish labour market has to a large extent been regulated by collective agreements between the social partners. Denmark has been praised internationally for its success with ‘flexicurity’, a model that combines flexibility in the labour market with a high degree of social security and has proved to have a relatively high degree of competitiveness and economic growth compared to other Western economies (Bredgaard and Larsen 2005). Arguably, the inclusion of ethnic Danish women and the extension of public services, such as childcare facilities, are part of this success, and this is often ignored in the flexicurity literature. In terms of gender relations, the Danish welfare regime is based on a strong dual-breadwinner model premised on women’s waged work. Social and family policies are based on individual rights and duties of women and men, children and parents and have not been motivated by gender equality (Borchorst 2008). Universal and extended social policies exist for all citizens; for example, public childcare policies for children below the age of two, and care for older people. Danish gender equality policies are less institutionalized than those of Norway and Sweden (Bergqvist et al. 1999: Chs 10, 11) and, unlike Norway and Sweden, the Danish political parties have generally rejected gender quotas in politics. Women make up 38 per cent of the national Parliament (Folketinget), but women only make up 27 per cent of the members of local councils This relatively high representation of women in the national political elite was generated mainly by women’s mobilization and not by party quotas – the system of voluntary quotas adopted in the 1980s by the Social Democratic and Socialist Folks Party was abandoned in the 1990s. Social movements, voluntary associations and networks have played a key role compared to that played by political parties, and women are as active as men in social movements and voluntary associations (Christensen and Siim 2001). The comparatively strong autonomous women’s movement influenced welfare and gender policies in the 1970s and 1980s, but since the 1990s the movement has been fragmented and there is no longer a link between feminist organizations and women in the political elite. The Danish welfare regime, premised on strong norms of social equality and a relative homogeneity in relation to ethnicity, religion and language, faces new challenges from increased migration. The implications of migration for universal social policies are contested and the preliminary findings are somewhat contradictory. Lise Togeby’s research has indicated that the norms of social equality and traditions of pluralist democracy offer the potential for the inclusion of ethnic minority groups (Togeby 2003), whereas others have found that universal social equality has been a barrier to the recognition of diversity (Wolfe and Klausen 2000). Research into the attitudes of ethnic Danes indicates that they tend to support social and political rights for migrants, but find it difficult to respect cultural rights (Thomsen 2006). Thus, although the strong welfare institutions may accept equal social and political rights for immigrants, the high degree of homogeneity and the

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trend towards communitarianism tend to pull in the opposite direction (Siim 2007, Mouritzen 2006, Hedetoft 2004). The implications of the Danish gender regime for ethnic equality and recognition of cultural diversity are also difficult to assess, but may likewise have contradictory effects. On the one hand, the strong dual-breadwinner model, the tradition of extended individual rights in social and family policies and the negative attitude to affirmative action programmes could be interpreted as barriers to diversity of family forms and gender equality norms. On the other hand, the strong tradition of cultural pluralism and the bottom-up approach to democracy and gender equality may be interpreted as offering the potential for the equal treatment of women and social groups and for recognition of cultural diversity. There is a tension between the dual-breadwinner model, which is based on women’s common interests as waged workers, and the tradition of cultural pluralism, which is based on diversity. The latter could possibly contribute to debates between ethnic Danish women and women from ethnic minority groups on the diversity of gender equality norms and family forms. These questions will be explored in more detail in the following section. The Danish Approach to Multiculturalism/Diversity and Gender Equality In this section, we focus on the interactions between the Danish approach to migration and gender equality and between integration and recognition of diversity. In terms of immigration, the Danish political institutions present a combination of the dominant citizenship models – ethnic assimilation in the German tradition and cultural pluralism in the British and Dutch traditions (Koopmans and Statham 2000: 18–29) – and immigration and integration policies are positioned between these two poles of ethnic assimilation and cultural pluralism (Togeby 2003). Since 1982, the Danish approach to immigration and integration has shifted dramatically from a liberal to a restrictive regime, and integration has moved from the pluralist pole towards an increasing emphasis on a legislation based on assimilation of ethnic minority groups into ‘the Danish way of life’ and their acceptance of ethnic Danish values (Mouritzen 2006, Hedetoft 2004, Togeby 2003). This includes growing concerns that migrants conform to ethnic Danish gender equality norms and family values (Siim 2007, 2008). Immigration issues include both alien and asylum policies that regulate entry into Denmark and integration legislation (that is, the rights and obligations of those living legally in the country). Since the general stop on immigration in 1973, people have arrived either as refugees or, as a result of family reunification, as members of families of previous migrants. Today, the migrant population comprises about 8 per cent of the total population and the largest groups are refugees or migrants from Turkey, Yugoslavia, Pakistan and Somalia, with a high concentration in the larger cities: Copenhagen, Århus, Odense and Aalborg (Jørgensen 2009).


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The formal naturalization laws have gradually made access to Denmark for immigrants more difficult, and during the 1990s public policies intensified efforts to integrate those immigrants living legally in the country. Denmark adopted its first integration legislation in 1998, under the former Social Democratic and Social Liberal government headed by Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, and this legislation has been tightened several times in the intervening years. Since the most recent restrictions in the Alien Legislation of 2002, people are required to have lived legally in the country for nine years before they can apply for citizenship. Immigration and integration have been covered by the media since the 1970s (Andreassen 2005). Since the 1990s it has gradually become the most important issue for the population as a whole (Goul Andersen 2006). Increasingly, both political developments and media debates have contributed to constructing and reinforcing a barrier between ‘us’ and ‘them’ (Andreassen 2005, Holm 2005) and cultural issues, including the right to speak one’s own language, to practise one’s religion and to dress and behave according to one’s cultural norms, have become sites of conflict between the ethnic Danish majority and ethnic minority groups (Siim 2007). Immigration became politicized as a key issue in the electoral campaign of November 2001 and contributed to the change from the Social Democratic and Social-Liberal government which had been in power since 1993 to the Liberal and Conservative government supported by the Danish People’s Party (Dansk Folkeparti). After the election, the Liberal–Conservative coalition government adopted a restrictive asylum package in 2002, which included regulations restricting rights to family reunification. It also reduced the amount of social assistance to which people in general were entitled. Since the 1990s, governments have gradually tightened immigration laws using gendered issues, such as forced marriages, to legitimize stricter immigration control in relation to family members. Gender equality has thus come to play a key role in the dominant discourse on integration, and the contrast between the gender equality of women in ethnic Danish families and the supposed patriarchal oppression of women in migrant families can be seen to be increasing. This has been illustrated in a number of studies of media debates (Andreassen 2005) and parliamentary debates (Andreassen and Siim 2007), as well as in studies of integration policies and of the government action plans for forced and arranged marriages (Siim and Skjeie 2008, Siim 2007) and for gender equality (Borchorst and Teigen 2009, Langvasbråten 2008). The position of ethnic minority groups in Denmark has attracted international attention. In 2006, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) that evaluates the Danish implementation of the CEDAW Convention ‘urged the State party to intensify its efforts to eliminate discrimination against minority women’ (CEDAW 2006: art. 27).

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Integration Policies and Recognition of Cultural Diversity Economic self-sufficiency has become the main principle underlying Danish integration policies, and labour-market participation is therefore regarded as key to integration. Increasingly, the understanding of Danish values and norms has also become a means towards assimilation associated with punitive language and citizenship tests. The Danish approach to integration is based on conflicting principles that can be used to legitimize both assimilation and discrimination (Siim 2007). The first Danish Integration Law proposed by the coalition of Social Democrats and the Radical Liberal Party, and adopted by Parliament in 1998, was intended to harmonize the previous legislation. Among its aims were that migrants should be enabled to participate equally with other citizens in political, economic, work, social, religious and cultural life; be economically self-sufficient; and understand Danish cultural values and norms. Although the law stated that the formal objective of integration was ‘equality’ in a broad sense, economic self-sufficiency was the overriding goal. In July 2002, the newly elected Liberal–Conservative government adopted a strict ‘Immigration Package’, which included two elements with serious implications for gender and ethnic equality: 1. ‘The 24 year provision’ in the Danish Alien Act § 9 requires that both men and women must be aged 24 years or more before they can obtain a residence permit to marry a non-citizen and must have a stronger affiliation to Denmark than to any other country. 2. Social assistance was replaced by a new ‘introductory grant’ for the first seven years. This grant is much lower than the amount given to people on social assistance (kontanthjælp). The ‘start help’ was presented as a tool to integrate newcomers into the labour market, and it means that immigrant and refugee families can gain the right to full and equal cash benefits only after they have been in Denmark for seven years. One important area of inequality between ethnic Danish people and immigrants and their families is their position in the labour market. The reports on the Danish National Reform Programme 2005 and the Gender Aspect of the Danish Employment Strategy for the EU both stress that there is a remarkable gap between employment rates for ethnic Danes and those for migrants. While ethnic  The infamous Danish 24-year rule is exceptional and has been widely criticized, but there have been similar proposals and debates in Norway (Bredal 2005).  The low grant to refugees represents a break with the principles of the universal welfare state. It was first introduced by the previous government headed by the Social Democratic Party in 1999, but lasted only 13 months because it did not have the intended effect of integrating refugees into the labour market (Ejrnæs and Skytte 2004: 252–7).


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Danes generally have high employment rates. The benchmark for employment rates that were set up by the European Council at the Lisbon Summit in March 2000 were reached in the late 1970s in Denmark, and the country has today some of the highest employment rates for both men and women within the EU. However the difference between migrants and the majority population is among the highest in Europe (Udlændinge- og integrationspolitikken i Danmark og udvalgte lande – Baggrundsrapport 2004). Male migrants have an employment rate lower than 55 per cent and female migrants from non-Western countries an employment rate lower than 40 per cent (Emerek 2005). Another important area of inequality between ethnic Danish and ethnic minority groups is democratic politics. The final report from the Danish Power Commission (En analyse af magt og demokrati i Danmark) concluded that the lack of influence of migrants, especially migrant women, on politics is one of the major challenges to Danish democracy (Togeby et al. 2003). Migrants without citizenship cannot vote in national elections, but since 1981 migrants have the right to vote in local elections after three years of residence, and migrant men have been elected in local politics. However, migrants with citizenship are generally marginalized in the political elite. Until the election in November 2007, only two people with migrant backgrounds had been elected to the Danish Parliament, and neither of these were women. In the 2007 election four women with migrant backgrounds ran for office and two of them, Özlem Cekic and Yildiz Akdogan, were elected to Parliament as representatives of the Socialist Peoples and Social Democratic Party. Several reports from The Danish Power Commission have addressed this challenge to democracy in order to empower ethnic minority groups and give migrants a voice in public debate and a presence in politics. The studies all demonstrate that migrants in general, and migrant women in particular, are underrepresented in democratic politics, including in participation in voluntary associations, public debates and political and administrative institutions (Hussain 2002, Siim 2003, Togeby 2003). The present government is concerned primarily about the low activity rates of migrant groups in the labour market compared to those of Danish citizens, and has adopted a number of programmes targeting migrant families. Two government programmes have aimed at integrating migrants into the labour market: Flere i arbejde [More in Work] from August 2003 and En ny chance for alle [A new Chance for All], an agreement between the government, the Danish People’s Party and the Social Democrats from June 2005. By reducing cash benefits, both use strong financial incentives to make it less profitable to be on social welfare. One of the stated objectives of this agreement was to encourage migrant women into the labour market by reducing social assistance for families with only one person in waged work. People in receipt of cash benefits will have to demonstrate that they are part of the work force. This new programme clearly targets migrant families,   If one of the spouses in a family where both receive cash benefits (a universal benefit means tested against family income) has not worked at least 300 hours within a period of

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because three out of four married couples in receipt of cash benefits have a migrant background, although they form less than 10 per cent of the population (Emerek 2005). The Social Democratic Party, originally part of this agreement, has since withdrawn, claiming that the new rules would affect the wrong people. The government’s approach to integration is a predominantly punitive one, because by lowering cash benefits it attempts to force migrants to take a job. Critics claim that the real problem is often either a lack of qualifications compatible with the needs of the labour market, or discrimination. The assessment of the effects of the government approach to integration is contested and a recent report from the SFI (the Danish Institute for Social Research), commissioned by the Danish government, finds that the decrease in cash benefits has not resulted in greater employment of recipients of those benefits (Graversen and Tingaard 2005). The SFI report concludes that financial incentives will have poor employment consequences for people who have problems other than that of unemployment; for example, health problems. Researchers also debate the logic underlying the government approach to integration policies, including the ‘start help’. Does it represent an exception to the general principle of universality in social policies, or a general attack on universalism? One position interprets it as an isolated attack on the social rights of refugees that does not challenge the general principles of universality and equal social rights (Goul Andersen 2006, Velfærdskommissionen 2005). Another claims that it represents a break with the universal welfare state, which will create a second-class social citizenship for migrant families, a form of discrimination that reduces the economic resources available to them and a breach of the principle of equal treatment as contained in human rights conventions (Ejrnæs and Skytte 2004). Integration policies include elements that affect gender equality and family relations. Feminist scholars have started to analyse the implications of integration policies for migrant women and migrant families, as well as for the Danish gender regime. Even though Danish social and childcare policies are still at least potentially friendly to all women (Borchorst 2008), it is debatable whether the Danish gender regime can be labelled as ‘women-friendly’ from the perspective of migrant women, who are not included in the labour market and in politics on a par with ethnic Danish women. The Danish approach to integration has targeted migrant families in relation to social policies, such as the ‘start help’, and migrant women are targeted in public discourses and action plans against forced and arranged marriages, and are framed as an oppressed group in need of gender equality. Arguably, the combined effects of integration and gender equality policies have been the marginalization and stigmatization of migrant women, and their assimilation within the dominant gender, cultural and family values (Siim 2007, Andreassen 2005). two years, that person will lose the right to cash benefit, and the other spouse will receive a family allowance.


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The populist Danish Peoples’ Party presents an unusual mix of negative attitudes towards immigration and multiculturalism, on the one hand, and support for extensive welfare policies for Danish citizens, on the other. The party and leading politicians in the coalition government have argued that solidarity, trust and social cohesion are threatened by cultural heterogeneity, as well as by the low labour-market participation of immigrant groups. This discourse has influenced the Danish approach to migration and the adoption of restrictive immigration and integration policies premised on assimilation to Danish values. Gender Equality Policies and Action Plans Directed Towards Immigrant Families In this section we first explore contrasting objectives in Danish gender equality policies. We identify a contrast between the dominant liberal and gender-neutral principles of individual rights of opportunities directed towards ethnic Danes, and, anti-liberal principles regulating welfare and targeting migrant families. We then go on to examine two policy measures directed primarily at migrant families: the government’s action plan for gender equality and action plans against forced and arranged marriages. In both cases, Danish exceptionalism is traced by a comparative Scandinavian perspective. The Danish gender equality agenda and policy is characterized by a number of paradoxes. Internationally, Denmark is often regarded as being at the forefront in terms of gender equality, but the most women-friendly social policies –childcare policies, for example – are not considered to be part of the ‘gender equality’ policy agenda. Politicians are not motivated by gender equality concerns but by concerns for children (Borchorst 2009). Gender equality is a relatively narrow policy area compared with the Swedish and Norwegian counterparts, and formal gender equality is restricted to formal anti-discrimination measures, directed mainly at the majority population. Childcare policy, which has generated high-quality public childcare provision for 50 per cent of children aged 1–3 and 80 per cent of children aged 3–6, is considered to be part of social policy and not of gender equality. In the context of both the OECD and the EU, this policy has been labelled as women-friendly (Esping-Andersen et al. 2002, OECD 2002) and has been considered to be the main reason why the male-breadwinner model faded away during the 1960s and 1970s. However, it is not regarded as part and parcel of the Danish gender equality project and has been negotiated using gender-neutral measures (Borchorst 2008). The present Liberal–Conservative government and its political partner, the People’s Party, are reluctant to focus on gender as a relevant criterion for political regulation. Hence, the earmarking of a period of parental leave for fathers that

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could not be taken up by the mothers was abolished in 2002. Despite the fact that it had been very successful in increasing the numbers of fathers on leave, since it was adopted in 1998, it was argued that earmarking leave for the fathers would interfere with the privacy of the family. However, while the Danish scheme earmarks the longest period of leave to mothers (14 out of 52 weeks) in the Nordic parental leave schemes, this was not framed as interfering with the choices of the family (Borchorst 2006). The Prime Minister and several ministers responsible for gender equality have claimed that gender equality has – almost – been achieved for the majority population, and this has become a dominating discourse. However, many problems still remain. The labour market is highly gender segregated, with a high concentration of women in jobs at the local level of the public sector. Furthermore, Denmark is falling behind other European countries in terms of the percentage of female managers, and for this reason and the relatively low number of female ministers, today Denmark is ranked ten in the United Nation’s political index (World Economic Forum 2008). The present Liberal–Conservative government emphasizes equality of opportunities and, in contrast to Norway and Sweden, it does not recognize gender inequality as a structurally based problem (Borchorst and Teigen 2009). The level of employment for female migrants is, as mentioned earlier, relatively low compared to the high employment rates for ethnic Danish women, and during its first years, the present government targeted its gender equality action plans mainly towards migrant women, based on the assumption that gender equality problems relate above all to migrant families. The Danish People’s Party, which has only in a very few instances supported policies of gender equality for ethnic Danish women, often argues that gender equality is a ‘Danish value’ which in its view contrasts with the perceived oppression of women in migrant families. The party serves as the majority basis of government and it has been influential in targeting immigrant groups as the major ‘problem’ for gender equality today (Siim and Skjeie 2008). In the 2007 debate following the decision of a Muslim woman wearing a headscarf to become a candidate for a left-wing party, a member of parliament for the Danish People’s Party compared the headscarf with the Nazi symbol, the swastika. This triggered several heated parliamentary debates, in which the Prime  The Nordic parental leave schemes grant parents a relatively long period of leave with fairly generous economic compensation, which in many areas equals the pay level (if collective agreements stipulate this). Fathers have been entitled to leave during the past 20 to 30 years and three of the countries have adopted daddy quotas which apart from reserving part of the leave for the mother also reserve part of the leave for the father. Norway was the first country to adopt a daddy quota, followed by Sweden. Today, Iceland has the most far reaching scheme with three months for the mother, three months for the father and three months to share. The daddy quotas have been relative successful in increasing the number of days that fathers take as leave.


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Minister distanced himself from the statement but referred to freedom of speech (Folketingstidende, 2 May 2007). At the time the statement resulted in a decline in political support for the party, although this was later regained. A majority of the population (71 per cent) is, however, opposed to a ban on wearing headscarves (Jyllands Posten, 11 June 2007). The Danish Action Plans for Gender Equality A comparative study of action plans for gender equality in the Scandinavian countries between 2000 and 2005 illuminates important characteristics of the Danish approach to gender equality (Langvasbråten 2008). Political discourse during this period framed gender equality within two separate areas: one relating to ethnic minority groups and another to the ethnic Danish majority. This is illustrated by language and headlines that emphasize the problems experienced by ethnic minority groups as a separate domain of special priority for government action. This has several implications. First, gender equality for ethnic minority groups was treated as a special policy issue separate from the other areas of gender equality policy, and especially from the plans for the ethnic Danish majority. Second, the plans targeted ethnic minority women, who were perceived as a specific ‘cultural group’ with major gender equality problems. This confirms results from a number of studies that official government rhetoric celebrates gender equality as a special ‘Danish’ value, deeply embedded in the very foundations of Danish democracy and one of the core values that Danish democracy is built upon (see for instance The Minister of Gender Equality 2005, Andreassen and Siim 2007, Andreassen 2005). This is contrasted with the lack of gender equality values and equal opportunities in migrant families and cultures. The Danish approach to gender equality differs somewhat from the Swedish and Norwegian approaches. All three countries express a concern for the agency of women and girls of ethnic minority background who are victims of violence and oppression, but there are important differences in the discourses. During the last five years, for example, the Liberal-Conservative governments in Denmark have claimed that the major gender equality problems relate to ethnic minority groups. Furthermore, the Danish rhetoric formulates the clearest example of a perceived conflict between the cultural traditions of migrants and Danish equality norms. This differs from Swedish governmental rhetoric, which is dominated by theories about a patriarchal society in which all women are victims of oppression and which is indifferent to cultural diversity. It also differs from the Norwegian case, which did not formulate any overall gender equality action plans or parliamentary gender equality debates during this period (Langvasbråten 2008; Borchorst and Teigen 2009). In spite of the different approaches to gender equality, all three countries have adopted strong normative discourses on gender equality as a key national value (Borchorst and Siim 2008, Siim and Skjeie 2008). On this basis it is somewhat paradoxical that neither the Swedish, Danish nor Norwegian gender equality

The Multicultural Challenge to the Danish Welfare State


policies can legitimately claim to live up to Hernes’s vision of ‘women-friendly societies’ mentioned earlier (Hernes 1987: 15). Actions Plans Against Forced and Arranged Marriages Forced marriages and ‘honour-related violence’ became the subject of public concern in Norway, Denmark and Sweden during the 1990s (Bredal 2005). According to Bredal, all three countries express a strong concern about gender equality, women’s rights and oppression of girls in patriarchal families, but there are remarkable differences in the Scandinavian policies and discourses on forced and arranged marriages. Denmark has adopted the strictest action plans against both forced and arranged marriages, while Norway’s action plan is directed solely against forced marriages. In Sweden, the action plan is not targeted at specific groups, but is directed against the general oppression of girls in patriarchal families. In Denmark, the public debate about how to prevent forced and arranged marriages is part of the ‘immigrant debate’ and was polarized from the start (Grøndahl 2003). The government referred to the growing number of cases of forced and arranged marriages, arguing that the known cases were only the tip of the iceberg, and accused critics of being afraid to admit facts for fear of being charged with discrimination. Critics of strict regulation claimed that there were only a few reported incidents of forced marriages and complained about media generalizations and stigmatizing of minority groups (Andreassen 2005, Grøndahl 2003). The government ‘Action Plan for 2003–2005 on Forced, Quasi-forced and Arranged Marriages’ is an example of the official political strategy (Siim 2007). It expresses the dominant discourse that the overall objective is to prevent not only marriages that involve force, but also all forms of arranged marriages, including marriage between cousins. The document identifies the main problem as a ‘value’ conflict and a ‘clash of culture’ between the Danish majority norms of gender equality in ‘normal families’ and the cultural tradition of forced and arranged marriages that leads to oppression and lack of self-determination for migrant women. The discourse around the ‘clash of cultures’ ignores the differences between forced and arranged marriages as well as the diversity between ‘normal’ Danish families. As a result, not only forced marriages, which are against the law, but also arranged marriages are considered to be a political problem in need of political regulation. This rhetoric conflating forced and arranged marriages is reflected in the action plan’s title and is constructed by means of arguments that stress that forced and arranged marriages have the same negative effects in relation to self-determination, cultural conflicts, force and lack of integration. In order to help to blur the difference between forced and arranged marriages, the document refers to the Norwegian and British action plans against forced marriages and to the


Changing Relations of Welfare

UN Human Rights Convention of 1948, as well as to Danish law against forced marriage. The lack of differentiation between forced and arranged marriages in the official Danish discourse is problematic for many reasons. First, it tends to stigmatize the marriage practice of many migrant families and to idealize the marriage practice of ethnic Danish families. Second, it ignores the complexities of generation and gender in migrant families and thus makes all migrant women potential victims of their own culture. According to Bredal (2005), the Norwegian and Swedish action plans present alternative attempts to solve this conflict by emphasizing preventive strategies and dialogues with migrant families at the level of social practice and daily life. We find that the issue of forced and arranged marriages illuminates the contradiction in the official Danish discourse between liberal values of non-intervention in ethnic Danish families and strict government regulation of migrant families. This Danish exceptionalism also points towards the underlying tensions between the individualist Danish family tradition and practice and the more collective family orientation of many migrant groups (Siim 2008). It also illustrates how the restrictive Danish integration legislation has created considerable pressure for cultural assimilation, which exacerbates cultural conflict between ethnic Danish and migrant family groups over family values and gender roles. From this perspective, the Danish gender regime, built on a strong-dual breadwinner model and an individual rights-based family model, has contributed to making the issue of forced and arranged marriages an arena for acute political and cultural conflicts between the Danish majority and ethnic minority groups. In summary, Danish exceptionalism in governmental action plans for gender equality, as well as the action plan against forced and arranged marriages, illustrates the inherent dilemma in the Danish approach to gender equality, between the principle of gender neutrality in official discourse directed towards ethnic Danes, including the reluctance to apply gender as a criterion for regulation, and a highly gendered discourse targeting ethnic minority groups. Research has also highlighted this difference. The dominant discourse thus contributes to the construction of a barrier between ‘them’ and ‘us’ – between ethnic Danish women, who have already achieved gender equality, and the patriarchal cultures of oppressed ethnic minority women. Arguably, the overall effect is to contribute to a stigmatization and marginalization of immigrant women. The emphasis on gender equality and self-determination in ethnic Danish families also contributes to the pressure for assimilation by immigrant families of the family values and gender equality norms of the dominant Danish culture. Conclusion We have suggested that the Scandinavian welfare states to some extent have lost their status as a model for others to follow and that one of the major reasons for

The Multicultural Challenge to the Danish Welfare State


this is connected to migration and recognition of cultural differences in society. Arguably, this is not due to a generic contradiction between redistribution and recognition policies, but to political priorities and framing strategies. This is supported by the fact that Denmark, Norway and Sweden have chosen somewhat different approaches to immigration. The Scandinavian countries still fare comparatively well in relation to redistribution, but migration has increased social and political inequalities, including inequalities among women. This increased diversity and inequality among women in Scandinavia represents a challenge to feminist research and the need to be sensitive to who speaks for whom and who has the right to define what women-friendly social policies are or should be. Arguably, Scandinavian welfare and gender research needs to rethink the foundations of the welfare state and gender equality from the perspective of migration and diversity. We have claimed that migration represents a major challenge to the Scandinavian welfare states to recognize cultural diversity and raises new research questions about the commonalities and differences in the welfare, migration and gender regimes. In spite of the differences in multicultural policies, all three countries experience problems with the integration of migrant women, both into the labour market and into society more generally. None of the Scandinavian welfare states can therefore claim to live up to Hernes’s vision of ‘women-friendly societies’. Feminist scholarship has started to analyse the conflicts between the Scandinavian welfare and gender equality regimes and migration and, in spite of Danish exceptionalism, researchers have identified similar problems in regard to marginalization and discrimination of migrant women and a lack respect for cultural diversity. The studies that have been carried out indicate that there are limits to the Scandinavian approach to welfare and illustrate that the women-friendly social policies still do not include all women. They have thus raised critical questions about the abilities of the Scandinavian welfare and gender regimes to integrate migrant groups and live up to their own promises of social and gender equality. One key question concerns how the meaning of ‘women-friendliness’ should be rethought in the context of diversity and what the implications of increased diversity might be for gender and family relations. Do the Scandinavian welfare states, with their extended public childcare and maternity/paternity policies, still have the potential to be women-friendly? If so, in what ways? These studies therefore suggest the need for comparative Scandinavian research into the potential for and barriers created by both institutions and gender equality cultures for the inclusion of migrant women as equal citizens, as well as into the ability of the gender regimes to recognize cultural diversity, including the diversity of family values and gender equality norms. An example of such research could be the study the commonalities and differences in approaches to migration and gender equality in Sweden, Norway and Denmark – to explore, for instance, Danish exceptionalism, which has contributed to tensions between gender equality, women’s rights and respect for ethnic minority groups, and to explain


Changing Relations of Welfare

the contradictions between the emphasis on liberal values of non-intervention in ethnic Danish families and strict regulation of migrant families. Finally, welfare, migration and gender research needs to study the tensions in social, integration and gender equality policies from the perspective of migrant women. The universal Scandinavian welfare and gender regimes may in some ways be seen to offer the potential for the equal treatment of migrant women, but there are also considerable barriers to equal treatment and the recognition of cultural diversity. It is important to understand why the tensions between gender equality, women’s rights and respect for cultural diversity seem to be especially acute in Scandinavia, and how this is related to the dominant norm of gender equality that is deeply embedded in both national identities and family values in everyday life. References Andreassen, R. 2005. The Mass Media’s Construction of Gender, Race, Sexuality and Nationality. An Analysis of the Danish News Media’s Communication about Visible Minorities 1971–2004. PhD Thesis. Toronto: University of Toronto, Department of History. Andreassen, R. with Siim, B. 2007. Country Report, Denmark. Written as part of the VEIL project, Values, Equality and Diversity in Liberal Democracies. Debates about Muslim Women’s Headscarves. Financed by the EC under the VI Framework Programme 2006–2009. Banting, K. and Kymlicka, W. 2006. Introduction, in Multiculturalism and the Welfare State, edited by K. Banting and W. Kymlicka. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1–45. Banting, K., Johnston, R., Kymlicka, W. and Soroka, S. 2006. Do multicultural policies erode the welfare state?, in Multiculturalism and the Welfare State, edited by K. Banting and W. Kymlicka. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 49–91. Bergqvist, C., Borchorst, A., Christensen, A.-D., Raaum, N., Ramstedt-Silén, V. and Styrkasdottir, A. (eds). 1999. Equal Democracies? Gender and Politics in the Nordic Countries, Oslo: University Press. Borchorst, A. 2006. The public–private split rearticulated: abolishment of the Danish daddy leave, in Politicizing Parenthood in Scandinavia: Gender Relations in Welfare States, edited by A.L. Ellingsæter and A. Leira. Bristol: The Policy Press, 101–20. Borchorst, A. 2008. Women-friendly policy paradoxes? Childcare policies and gender equality visions in Scandinavia, in The Limits of Political Ambition? Gender Equality and Welfare Politics in Scandinavia, edited by K. Melby et al. Bristol: The Policy Press, 27–42. Borchorst, A. 2009. Danish child-care policies within path-timing, sequence, actors and opportunity structures, in Child Care and Preschool Development

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in Europe: Institutional Perspectives, edited by K. Scheiwe and H. Willekens. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 126–14. Borchorst, A. and Siim, B. 2002. The women-friendly welfare state revisited. NORA, Nordic Journal of Women’s Studies, 10(2), 90–8. Borchorst, A. and Siim, B. 2008. Woman-friendly policies and state feminism: theorizing Scandinavian gender equality. Feminist Theory, 9(2), 207–24. Borchorst, A. and Teigen, M. 2009. Who Is at Issue – What Is at Stake? Intersectionality in Danish and Norwegian Gender Equality Policies. Paper presented at ECPR Joint Session of Workshops, Workshop 14, Institutionalizing Intersectionality, Lisbon, 14–19 April 2009. http://vbn.aau. dk/research/(17412209) [accessed 13.09.2009]. Bredal, A. 2005. Tackling forced marriages in Norway and Denmark: between women’s rights and immigration control, in Honour Crimes: Paradigms and Violence against Women, edited by L. Welchman and S. Hossain. London: Zed Books, 482–509. Bredal, A. 2006. Vi er jo en familie. Arrangerte ekteskap, autonomi og fellesskap blant unge norsk-asiater. Thesis. Oslo: Institut for Samfundsforskning. Bredgaard, T. and Larsen, F. 2005. Employment Policy from Different Angles. Copenhagen: DJØF Publishing. Brochmann, G. and Hagelund, A. 2005. Innvandringens velferdspolitiske konsekvenser. Nordisk kunnskapsstatus. Copenhagen: Nordic Council of Ministers. Christensen, A.-D. and Siim, B. 2001. Køn, demokrati og modernitet. Mod nye politiske identiteter. Copenhagen: Hans Reitzels Forlag. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. 2006. Concluding Comments of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. Denmark, New York: United Nations. Ejrnæs, M. and Skytte, M. 2004. Etniske minoriteter og socialpolitik, in Socialpolitik, edited by J.E. Larsen and I.H. Møller, Copenhagen: Hans Reitzels Förlag, 249–62. Emerek, R. 2005. The Danish National Reform Programme 2005 and the Gender Aspect of the Danish Employment Strategy. Final Report. Brussels: European Commission. Esping-Andersen, G. with Gallie, D., Hemerijck, A. and Myles, J. 2002. Why We Need a New Welfare State. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Goul Andersen, J. 2006. Immigration, Solidarity and Citizenship, Keynote Paper to the Globalization and the Political Theory of the Welfare State and Citizenship conference, Aalborg University, 4–5 May 2006. The Government’s Action Plan for 2003–2004 on Forced, Quasi-forced and Arranged Marriages. 15 August 2003. Copenhagen: Ministry for Refugees, Immigration and Integration Affairs. Graversen, B.K. and Tingaard, K. 2005. Evaluering af loftet over ydelser til kontanthjælpmodtagere. SFI-report 05–04. Copenhagen: The Danish National Center for Social Research.


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Grøndahl, M. 2003. Familiesammenføring – fra verdensrekord til verdensrekord, in Når du strammer garnet – et opgør med mobning af mindretal og ansvarsløs asylpolitik, edited by C. Fenger-Gørn et al. Åarhus: Åarhus Universitetsforlag, 184–211. Hedetoft, U. 2004. Magten, de Etniske Minoriteter og det Moderniserede Assimilationsregime i Danmark. GRUS, 71, 69–92. Hedetoft, U., Petersson, B. and Sturfelt, L. 2006. Invandrare och integration I Danmark och Sverige. Gothenburg and Stockholm: Makadam. Hernes, H.M. 1987. The Welfare State and Women Power. Oslo: Scandinavian University Press. Hirdman, Y. 1990. Genussystemet, in Demokrati och Makt i Sverige. Maktutredningen huvudrapport. Stockholm: SOU 1990:44. 73–114. Holm, L.K. 2005. Folketinget og udlændingepolitikken. Diskurser om naturaliserede, indvandrere og flygtninge 1973–2002. PhD thesis, Aalborg: Aalborg University. Hussain, M. 2002. Etniske minoriteters organisering i Danmark, in Bevægelser i demokrati. Foreninger og kollektive aktioner i Danmark, edited by F. Mikkelsen. Århus: Århus Universitetsforlag, 160–76. Jørgensen, M.B. 2009. National and Transnational Identities: Turkish Organizing Processes and Identity Construction in Denmark, Sweden and Germany, PhD thesis, SPIRIT, Aalborg: Aalborg University. Koopmans, R. and Statham, P. (eds). 2000. Challenging Immigration and Ethnic Relations Politics: Comparative European Perspectives, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Kymlicka, W. 1999. Liberal complacencies, in Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women?, Okin, S.M. with Respondents, edited by Cohen, J. et al. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 31–4. Kymlicka, W. 2006. The Multicultural Welfare State. Keynote Paper to the Globalization and the Political Theory of the Welfare State and Citizenship conference, Aalborg University, 2–5 May 2006. Langvasbråten, T. 2008. A Scandinavian model? – Gender equality discourses on multiculturalism. Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State and Society, 15, 32–52. Lewis, J. 1992. Gender and the development of welfare regimes. Journal of European Social Policy, 2(3), 159–73. Lewis, J. 2001. The decline of the male-breadwinner model: implications for work and care. Social Politics, 8(2), 152–70. Lister, R., Williams, F., Antonnen, A., Bussemaker, J., Gerhard, U., Heinen, J., Johansson, S., Leira, A., Siim, B. and Tobbio, C. with Gavanas, A. 2007. Gendering Citizenship in Western Europe: New Challenges for Citizenship Research in a Cross-National Context. Bristol: The Policy Press. los Reyes, P. de, Molina, I and Mulinari, D. 2003. Maktens olika förklädnadar. Kønn, klasse og etnicitet i det post-koloniale Sverige. Stockholm: Atlas.

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Mouritzen, P. 2006. The particular universalism of a Nordic civic nation: common values, state religion and Islam in Danish political culture, in Multiculturalism, Muslims and Citizenship: A European Approach, edited by T. Modood et al. London: Routledge, 70–93. OECD. 2002. Babies and Bosses: Reconciling Work and Family Life. Vol. 1. Australia, Denmark and the Netherlands. Paris: OECD Publishing. Okin, S.M. with Respondents/Cohen, J., Howard, M. and Nussbaum, M. (eds). 1999. Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women? Princeton: Princeton University Press. Parekh, B. 1999. A varied moral world, in Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women?, Okin, S.M. with Respondents, edited by Cohen, J. et al. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 69–76. Phillips, A. 2007. Multiculturalism without Culture. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press. Siim, B. 2000. Gender and Citizenship: Politics and Agency in France, Britain and Denmark. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Siim, B. 2003. Medborgerskabets udfordringer – belyst ved politisk myndiggørelse af etniske minoritetskvinder. Århus: Magtudredningen. Siim, B. 2007. The challenge of recognizing diversity from the perspective of gender equality – dilemmas in Danish citizenship. CRISPP – Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, 10(4), 491–511. Siim, B. 2008. Dilemmas of citizenship – tensions between gender equality and respect for diversity in the Danish welfare state, in The Limits of Political Ambition? Gender Equality and Welfare Politics in Scandinavia, edited by K. Melby et al. Bristol: The Policy Press, 149–65. Siim, B. and Skjeie, H. 2008. Tracks, intersections and dead ends. State feminism and multicultural retreats in Denmark and Norway. Ethnicities, 8(3), 322–44. The Minister for Gender Equality (2005). 2005 report and 2006 perspective and action plan for gender equality, Copenhagen. Perspective_actionplan_2006.pdf [accessed 13.09.2009]. Thomsen, J.P.F. 2006. Konflikten om de nye danskere. Copenhagen: Akademisk Förlag. Togeby, L. 2003. Fra fremmedarbejdere til etniske minoriteter. Århus: Århus University Press, Magtudredningen. Togeby, L., Goul Andersen, J., Munk Christiansen, P., Beck, T. and Vallgårda, S. 2003. Magt og Demokrati i Danmark – hovedresultater fra magtudredningen. Århus: Århus Universitetsforlag. Udlændinge- og integrationspolitikken i Danmark og udvalgte lande. 2004. Baggrundsrapport, Tænketanken om udfordringer for integrationsindsatsen i Danmark i samarbejde med Socialforskningsinstituttet, Ministeriet for Flygtninge, Indvandrere og Integration. Velfærdskommissionen. 2005. Analyserapport – Fremtidens velfærd og globaliseringen, Copenhagen: Velfærdskommissionen.


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Walby, S. 2004. The European Union and gender equality: emergent varieties of gender regime. Social Politics, 11(1), 4–29. Wolfe, A and.Klausen, J. 2000. Other people, Prospect, December, 28-33. World Economic Forum. 2008. Women’s Empowerment: Measuring the Global Gender Gap, Geneva: World Economic Forum. Yuval-Davis, N. 2006. Intersectionality and feminist politics. European Journal of Women’s Studies, 13(3), 193–209.

Chapter 8

Postcolonial Encounters: Migrant Women and Swedish Midwives Diana Mulinari A tray. A nurse entering the room carrying sandwiches. The smell of freshly brewed coffee. The feeling of miracle and hope in the silent interaction between the new born baby and the tired but (often) extremely happy woman/mother. A hospital ritual that marks the end of a (sometimes) exhausting and painful labour and the beginning of a new life. In the middle of the tray, among the cheese sandwiches, the juice, the coffee, milk and sugar, a little wooden Swedish flag.

Introduction Most of the migrant women I spoke to during my fieldwork in a birth clinic located in one of Sweden’s larger cities, recalled with joy and pleasure the tray entering their hospital rooms. None of them mentioned the flag. I want, however, to begin this chapter by shifting attention from the universal practice of human reproduction to the (state-regulated) practice of the production of children within racialized nation states. What is the connection between the (largely unobserved) Swedish flag welcoming a human baby into the world and the discourses on biology and race that regulate the interaction between the Swedish health care system, its welfare professionals and migrant women giving birth? The aim of the chapter is to explore how women and families from different minority ethnic backgrounds are treated within the Swedish welfare state by focusing on a space in which the Swedish welfare state meets migrant families in very powerful ways: the delivery room. The chapter begins with a short overview of the Swedish health care system and the Swedish immigration regime, with a particular focus on the changes that have occurred since the 1990s. The second and third sections analyse the empirical material from the fieldwork, with regard to issues of gender, family and nationhood. These are followed by a brief conclusion.

 The empirical material discussed in this chapter is the result of two weeks of fieldwork (undertaken during 2007) in a birth clinic, one week of fieldwork in a prenatal clinic, participant observation of midwives’ activities and 10 in-depth interviews with midwives. I wish to thank the other member of the research project, Kerstin Sandell, for invaluable and generous discussions on the issues presented here.


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The Women-Friendly Welfare State and ‘Other’ Women The first state-sponsored study that reported on racial discrimination in health care was conducted in 2004 (Wamala and Bildt 2008, Statens Folkhälsoinstitut 2005, Bäärnhielm and Saers 1998). Considering that Sweden is one of the European countries with the largest population of citizens with migrant backgrounds, why did it take so long for public health care institutions to examine this issue? Two Swedish postcolonial researchers (Groglopo and Ahlberg 2008) assert that a denial of racism in the field of health care is at the core of the representation of the nation as a generous and tolerant country, which has moved on from its colonial history. While there is an increasing number of Swedish studies on minority ethnic populations and how these different ‘others’ experience the Swedish health care system (Ekblad et al. 1996), there is a lack of studies critically reappraising the (un)equal access and differential treatment experienced by racialized groups within the health care system. The sociological racialization of Western narratives about ‘us’ and ‘them’ (Lewis 2000, Gilman 1992) is enacted, among other things, through a very clear and evident distribution wherein ‘normal families’ are studied within sociology and ‘other families’ are placed within the framework of social work or anthropology (Sandell and Mulinari 2006). These ‘other families’ are allowed a presence in the sociological landscape only when they legitimate the traditional modernization paradigm, which both feminist and Marxist scholars had already begun to criticize in the early 1970s. The barriers that divide the ‘other’ from the majority ethnic Swedish population within health care institutions are presented in narratives constructing the ‘other’ as greatly different (Ölandher 2004). Difference is created through discourses in which being located in or belonging to the West and being conceptualized as white is representative of patients with a rational world view and an understanding of medical practice, while being located in the Rest implies the conceptualization of patients whose understanding is based in the traditional beliefs (including beliefs in magic) of their cultures (Fioretos 2002). The following quotation illustrates the role that the state and its institutions play in creating and mediating these cultural differences: In Swedish society, understanding of the body is almost purely biomedical . To give birth to a child is, for example, a medical event. For Muslim women, the body is much more than physiological and psychological process. In traditional societies the body is regarded as being more magical and ritualistic (Social Policy Board 1989:19, my translation).

 I use the notion of racialization (Goldberg 2000, Miles 1993) to emphasize that it is not migration in and of itself that constructs these groups as ‘others’, but migration processes regulated through the category of race. Europeans or North Americans identified as white, who migrate to Sweden, are not exposed to the same processes.

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Paradoxically, this construction of the ‘other’ developed during a historical period when, on the one hand, an increasing number of white Swedish people believed in the healing power of crystals and stones and, on the other hand, increasing numbers of migrant groups were urban and well educated, often enjoying equal and privileged access to more technologically sophisticated medical care than the Swedish medical system provided. In most health care guidelines relating to minority ethnic populations, these populations are constructed not only as a single category but in a way that fails to recognize that variations among racialized groups are very great, in terms of experiences of migration, level of education, civil status, political and religious beliefs, sexual identities, and employment and housing situations. Explanations regarding culture and ethnicity that deny that cultural practices develop within specific contexts, often tend to ignore class relations: people may eat certain kinds of food, for example, not for cultural reasons, but simply because they are poor and ‘healthy’ food is expensive (Bhui 2002, Bohpal 1992). Mental health problems among racialized groups may not necessarily be related to traumatic experiences that occurred before migration or to having a particular cultural background, but may instead be a response to institutional racism (Fernando 1988). A battery of culturally racist discourses was evident, for instance, in the health care institutions’ response to working-class women who had migrated to Sweden in the late 1950s and were suffering from chronic pain. These women, who had had monotonous and ‘unhealthy’ jobs for decades, were confronted by a health care system that saw their symptoms as a product of Mediterranean cultural beliefs about gender and the menopause (Knocke 1991, 1997). A cultural racism that reinforced fantasies of the nation as ‘innocent’ obscured the connection between migrant women’s poor health in the late 1990s and the fact that their earlier employment, which had contributed to their present health problems, had also contributed to Swedish capitalist expansion in the 1960s. A further illustration of the link between institutional racism and health care institutions is the stigmatization of the Somali community through what is assumed to be a cultural practice of the whole group: female circumcision. Paradoxically, the increasing practice of body alteration or new forms of body mutilation, such as genital piercing or breast implants, which may also put women’s health at risk (often including that of young, white Swedish women), are not explained as practices evolving from ‘patriarchal cultures’ (Helman 2001). Anthropologist Beth Maina Ahlberg (2000), who has explored midwives’ views of Somali women’s sexuality, suggests that midwives’ understanding is based on beliefs that in patriarchal cultures men are always violent and women fearful and passive. She also argues that although the midwives were very open to speaking about female circumcision, they were not so willing to discuss discrimination and racism.


Changing Relations of Welfare

Changing Welfare States, Changing Immigration Regimes The notion of a shared socio-political profile, based on perceived similarities among all of the Nordic welfare states, has been challenged by several scholars (Melby et al. 2008). When an analysis of the ethnic regime is introduced, the assumed similarity becomes even more problematic. Comparative data for 2005 shows that the ‘foreign-born’ population is rather small in Finland (3.4 per cent of the total population), approximately twice as high in Denmark (6.5 per cent) and Norway (7.8 per cent) and considerably higher in Sweden (12.4 per cent). Histories and immigration policies also differ among the Nordic countries. Sweden has had a history of work-related migration since the 1960s and a relatively liberal refugee policy since the 1970s. In 1975, migrants were granted equal rights with Swedish citizens (Regeringens prop. 1975:26). Historically, Swedish immigration policy has differed greatly from the guest worker systems developed in countries such as West Germany and Switzerland. The Swedish strategy has been one of ‘inclusive subordination’; that is, racialized groups have been granted citizenship, but have been forced into subordinated positions in the labour market and the welfare state (Mulinari and Neergaard 2004). Sayings such as ‘Sweden and our migrants’ capture the tension between acknowledging the presence of racialized groups and locating this category of people within a hierarchical relationship (despite formal citizenship) to the majority population. Migrant women turned out to be the pioneers of Swedish modernity as a result of their position within the Swedish labour market. During the 1960s and 1970s, they were employed to a greater extent in areas that traditionally employed men, had a higher employment rate and a higher level of full-time employment than women in the majority population. Despite their position, which radically challenged both male-dominated workplaces and cultural notions of gender and femininity, migrant women were constructed, in both media discourse and public documents, as passive, traditional and oppressed. State reports referred to the clash of cultures between migrant women and the norms and values of Swedish society, suggesting that this made it very difficult for them to function successfully as mothers (SOU 1979:89). Sociologist Alexandra Ålund (1989) summarized this and other similar ethnocentric ideas as ‘problem’ ideologies linked to the need for state intervention and control, mirroring the historical identification of both researchers and experts with the welfare state and its institutions. To be a postcolonial feminist scholar in Sweden is not an easy task. The argument that migrant women are the target of discriminatory practices continues to provoke resistance from different fields (Pred 1998, Mulinari 2001). Feminist scholars identified with the (Swedish) national project point to the empowering role that the Swedish welfare state offers to migrant women. International scholars   Migration Policy Institute, 1.1.shtml [accessed 23 May 2008]. See also: [accessed 14 September 2009].

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suggest that compared with other European countries, Sweden has maintained, despite structural changes, a universalistic and inclusive welfare model, which is mirrored in its public institutions (Svallfors and Taylor-Gooby 1999). Up to a certain point, I agree that Sweden has managed to maintain a universal and inclusive model of welfare. The Swedish welfare state’s universalistic policies have a wide impact on the life opportunities of all its citizens (including those with migrant backgrounds). Historically, Swedish family policies that have shifted women’s reproductive responsibility from the family to state institutions provide a vital point of departure for the development of more equal gender relations for all citizens. The provision of childcare and maternity leave, as well as the high degree of women in the labour market, education and the political sphere, are, despite their limitations (Eduards 2007), vital achievements from a postcolonial feminist perspective. However, I am critical of some scholars’ inability to acknowledge the (unfair) ethnic regime at the core of the Swedish welfare state. I also disagree with their resistance to acknowledging that many of the changes that have occurred within the Swedish welfare state since the 1990s embody an ethnic subtext regulating who ‘belongs’ to the nation, and why. The Swedish economic crisis of 1991 is often referred to as a symbol of the structural and economic changes that have taken place within the Swedish welfare state model. Compared to other countries (the UK, for example), Sweden has realized certain neo-liberal reforms within, at least to some extent, the welfare state. Cultural geographer David Harvey describes this development as a ‘circumscribed neoliberalization’ (Harvey 2007: 115). From the 1980s onwards in Sweden, neoliberal interventions increased both inside and outside government, and concepts such as cost efficiency, customer orientation, privatization and marketization were introduced within those institutions responsible for the delivery of welfare (Nygren 1998: 143). Structural change due to the financial crisis and industrial reorganization led to increasingly high unemployment rates, which affected migrant groups more than other groups, partly because of their over-representation in sectors more susceptible to reorganization and partly because of racial discrimination in procedures for laying people off. The decreasing demand for labour illustrates the role of racism in the recruitment process. During the severe economic crisis after 1992, unemployment rates soared and hit the migrant labour force hard. Despite a history of high rates of employment in a variety of sectors, migrant women were now represented as embodying a culture that was a central factor in explaining their own unemployment and/or sick leave (de los Reyes 2006). Political measures to stimulate employment focused on raising migrant women’s self-esteem and creating jobs involving tasks that were ‘natural’ to women, such as sewing and cooking: work that was supposedly suitable for a group whose cultures were perceived as essentially traditional. One of the most illuminating examples of how migrant women are positioned within the realms of nature and tradition in ways that narrow their employment opportunities, is that of a Social Democratic


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integration minister who supported the state subvention for housework, a policy measure that was thought to provide career women with easier ways to combine work and family, by arguing that housework was an especially suitable area for migrant women (Gavannas 2006). Postcolonial Swedish feminists’ (de los Reyes and Molina 2002) critical reading of what has been a central connection within Swedish feminism between women’s emancipation and women’s access to paid work must be understood, therefore, in the context of the historical location of migrant women in jobs identified by three ‘Ds’: dirty, dangerous and difficult or demeaning. Sweden has also had to confront the new ways in which the category of race has been treated in public and political debate. The burning of crosses in front of buildings housing asylum seekers, which began in the early 1980s with one of the first-known neo-Nazi groups (Bevara Sverige Svenskt [Keep Sweden Swedish]) has not been stopped, although racist violence has changed in both form and content (Lööw 2000, Lodenius and Wikström 1997). Since the late 1990s, buildings housing refugees, as well as mosques and left-oriented anti-racist spaces, have been continually under attack from neo-Nazi violence and neo-nationalist activism, which has cost a number of lives. During the past few years, Sweden’s xenophobic right-wing parties have had some success at the municipal (local) level and are expected to succeed in securing parliamentary positions in future elections. As a consequence of the local elections, one of these parties, the Swedish Democrats, gained seats in half of the municipalities and two of 20 regional parliaments (Rydgren 2005). Swedish integration policy has changed from a pluralistic (subordinated inclusion) strategy to new assimilation policies (Schierup et al. 2006, Ålund and Schierup 1991). While the creation of an oppressed group of migrant women at the core of Swedish identity is not new, the repressive state-regulated demands on the minority ethnic population regarding identification with national values is new (Bredström 2006). Discourses have moved from migrant women as a ‘problem’ to discourses on their cultures (especially the Muslim culture) as a ‘threat’ to democratic (that is, seen as European) values. Such values are understood to reflect ‘the ethics governed by Christian tradition and western world humanism’ and to be imparted ‘through the individual’s education into a sense of justice, generosity, tolerance and responsibility’ (Lpo 1994: 5, my translation).  This quotation, taken from the Swedish Curriculum for the Compulsory School System, the Pre-School Class and the Leisure-Time Centre (Lpo 1994), illustrates the change that has taken place in Sweden: from integration policies focused on diversity to new assimilation policies in which what are perceived to be the ‘other’s’ conceptions of the world are viewed as threats against the national body. Many migrant parents who have been forced to migrate from areas where Western humanism is seen as linked to the exploitation of bodies and natural resources might understand this particular world view as problematic and not as a stance to be used to frame fundamental values in school. Many migrant parents know that ‘a sense of justice, generosity, tolerance and responsibility’ does not necessarily correlate only with a Christian ethic (Otterbeck and Bevelander 2006,

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Fezkete 2004), but with fundamental human values that are recurrent within most religions and conceptions of the world. A further illustration of the new assimilation policies is provided by debates about school boards’ right to prohibit children’s native language from being spoken in schools, a practice that is already standard in some public educational institutions (Aracena and Ibarra 2009). Central to the new assimilation policies is a strong emphasis on gender equality as a national cultural symbol which is understood to conflict with more extreme patriarchal migrant cultures (de los Reyes et al. 2002). Gender equality has been transformed from a political ideological vision to an exclusive, culturally Swedish value, into a discourse that links gender equality to other values, such as democracy and human rights, which underpin a wider European/Christian culture, and constructs these as values that migrants lack. In an environment in which racial discrimination is systematic in all areas of social life and xenophobic political parties are increasingly visible, feminist explanations that focus on the tensions between gender equality and multiculturalism often depart from feminist political philosopher Susan Moller Okin’s intervention (Okin, 1999). Although it is relevant to explore these theoretical models, there is a risk of, on the one hand, reinforcing the boundary between state-regulated notions of ‘majority’ and ‘minority’ and, on the other, of reducing issues of social justice and social inequality to issues of tolerance and liberal democracy. In her study of the way in which social services construct migrant families, Hanna Wikström (2007), for example, demonstrates how migrant families are considered by social workers to require support and education in regard to democratic values and gender equality. Her research illustrates how these ethnocentric conceptions, based in fixed identities, prevent social services professionals from identifying families who are actually in need of support. The study also suggests that wider strategies need to be developed to counteract racist conceptions of migrant families in the social services. Assumptions of what migrant families want, including the assumption of how they wish to organize care work (taking responsibility for their elders at home, for example) have legitimized a decrease in or complete absence of welfare services. Through a study of how different municipalities responded to the economic crisis of the 1990s, cultural geographer Susanne Johansson (2000) demonstrates that a number of reductions in care for older people were based on conceptions about migrants’ ‘culture of care’. Yet many migrant women act as carers for their older relatives because it is a role that they find difficult to decline in their interactions with welfare professionals and the social services (Forssell 2004). The new assimilation policies have also shifted the focus from forms of cultural racism that perceive migrants as a single racialized category to forms of cultural racism that place special emphasis on the Swedish Muslim population (Malm 2009). A state-financed research report, produced by the Board of Risk within the Swedish military, argued that a neighbourhood that was home to many citizens with a Muslim background was characterized by criminal activity, Islamic fundamentalism and the oppression of women and girls. Although this report has


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been criticized for its poor methodology and lack of scientific rigour, it has had an important impact on the media and continues to be supported by the Swedish state, represented by the Ministry of Equality and Integration, which has strongly defended the report’s conclusions (Ranstorp and Dos Santos 2009, Furstenberg 2009). Midwives, Gender and National Belonging The birth clinic analysed in this chapter is located in one of the larger Swedish cities. My first fieldwork experience highlighted a powerful contrast between the surrounding city, where being categorized as a migrant is underlined by difference and contestation, and the birth clinic, where white bodies, characterized by the smile of the midwives, were the norm. The discursive construction of the nation as white (Frankenberg 1993) is fractured in the birth clinic by the presence both of the auxiliary nurses, who often have migrant backgrounds, and of some of the doctors, who, to a large extent, are part of the ‘second generation’ of migrant families. However, the state regulates the birth of a new generation of citizens through white midwives. The absence of migrant women in the profession may in part be explained by the division of labour between white women and migrant women in Sweden, where white women tend to be located within the professional ranks of the public sector (teachers, social workers, midwives, nurses, etc.), and migrant women historically have occupied the lower ranks of the public sector (cleaners, auxiliary nurses, etc.) and have found private-sector work first in industry and now in the service sector. A documentary series on midwives shown on Swedish television during the spring of 2008 reinforced the findings from my own fieldwork. The ten programmes in the series followed the work of midwives at one of Stockholm’s birth clinics. All of the midwives interviewed in the programmes belonged to the majority population. Yet to argue that they were represented as white is not adequate; whiteness (Ware 1992) is a position of privilege that embodies diverse forms of femininity, from the almost postmodern whiteness of middle-class professionals to the politicized whiteness of young (mostly working-class) Swedish women in right-wing xenophobic parties. The construction of gender and sexuality by the midwifery profession resembles what I understand Homi Bhabha (2004) would define as a mimicry of ‘feminine’ traits. Midwives emphasize their femininity: they speak with soft voices, they smile, they wear white dresses and they wear their hair long, and they talk tenderly about babies. From observing, as I had the privilege of doing, the considerable medical competence and training of Swedish midwives, I would suggest that a possible interpretation of their ways of constructing gender and performing this specific form of femininity is through an understanding of the way rituals of subordination enable their autonomy from the powerful medical profession. But it is also important to contextualize this construction of gender

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and (hetero)sexuality as an effort to regulate what is experienced as a highly chaotic birth-giving population of diverse mothers from many different cultural backgrounds. The Swedish midwives I encountered embody an understanding of the world based on changing notions of gender relations, transformations that have shifted women’s identities, in their opinion, from a position where women knew what a birth was all about to one where a young Swedish generation in particular feels unable to give birth. On the one hand, there are those who are unable to believe in the power of their bodies and fear giving birth. A second group, however, has an agenda of a different order and is described as strong and instrumental in demanding elective Caesarean sections. Migrant women play the constitutive role of representing nature within these discourses. Their silence regarding demands for support and access to health care options is conceptualized as their strength, although it is often discriminatory practices that hinder migrant women from fully utilizing health care resources. Midwives’ extreme femininity works to regulate two groups of patients which (in midwives’ understanding), although different from one another, are both clearly problematic: professional women, all of whom midwives perceive as white and who resist the ‘natural call of motherhood’, and migrant women, all of whom are perceived by midwives to be heterosexual and poor and who give birth in ‘natural’ ways, but must be helped to embrace a healthy modern, autonomous identity. In midwives’ narratives, modernity is not about women’s presence in public and the new forms of patriarchy, but refers to a life of autonomy and self-indulgence that has destroyed women’s knowledge of their own bodies. As one of the midwives in my study claimed: Modern women have lost their force, there is a force in the female body; they have to learn to trust their own bodies.

According to the midwives, being ‘too modern’ implies an inability to accept women’s role in the biological division of labour (although rather than phrasing it in this way, they would say that women resist being women). They see this in young women’s resistance to fully understanding their pregnancy and in their demands to control the birth process and for Caesarean sections. Especially interesting was the anger midwives’ felt towards young, pierced, feminist women from the majority population who expressed a fear of birth, which may have been due to the way these women represented a certain gendered deviation from the norms of national whiteness. In the discourse on Swedish women and late modernity, migrant women are seen in terms of the ‘primitive’ and the ‘private’. They are represented as being supported by their families, as accepting the pain of birth and as being good mothers – and in each instance as not needing access to health care resources. In the view of midwives, post-natal depression, for example, is a syndrome that can be related to skin colour and is predominantly associated with white mothers.

Changing Relations of Welfare


There was a paradox then between the discourse on migrant women knowing how to give birth and the discourse on migrant women being ignorant about how the body functioned. This ignorance could, according to one of the midwives I talked with, have consequences for those who lacked a sense of responsibility regarding their bodies; for example, pregnant women who wished to follow the Muslim rituals for Ramadan. Pregnant women are advised to phone the birth clinic when they begin to feel their first contractions, so that midwives can evaluate the status of the delivery. This evaluation runs the risk of being shaped by cultural representations if midwives believe, as one told me, that: People from the Nordic countries endure pain [biter likblekt ihop] and endure it in silence, while people from the Mediterranean areas, create a lot of noise when they are in pain.

It was this same midwife who argued that there were differences between migrant and Swedish women in terms of migrant women ‘knowing’ how to give birth. The Denial of Racism To pose questions of racism about midwives, who are both defended and iconized by the state, is not an easy task. The absence of a more critical debate about the role of health care institutions in the reproduction of racial hierarchies may in part be explained by the symbolic role that the highly inclusive Swedish health care system played in representations of the nation, within discourses that represent Swedish medical staff as different from other health professionals, due to the welfare state, and existing outside the financial interests that are perceived to characterise medicine in some other parts of the world. One of the forms this denial of racism took during my fieldwork was the general refusal to address migrants’ particular experiences of the health care system. The following is an extract from an interview with a midwife from a birth clinic well known for its natural birth philosophy: Midwife: Women come from all over the region to give birth here. Researcher: Do you have many women with migrant backgrounds? Midwife: No. Very few. Only if they are married to Swedes … There are not so many migrants around here. They are not a problem. They do not exist.

How should these and very similar arguments be understood? It is easy to identify them as the extension of state institutional discourses on migrants as a

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‘problem’. What is more difficult to understand is the lack of consideration of or, worse still, the lack of concern over the fact that migrant women were absent from a public health care service. This lack of reflection about the nature and effects of exclusionary practices may in part be explained by an image of themselves that Swedish midwives derive from the Swedish health care system, which is perceived to be universal and inclusive: Profit is what counts in other countries. Here, we can concentrate on our patients. Your wallet does not count. We treat everybody as equals here. It does not matter where you come from. You are a patient and that is what matters to us. We are trained to see the pain, people’s needs, not whether they are Swedish or migrants. We do not have time for that.

I heard these and similar statements during my fieldwork. Claims of human suffering transcending difference are central to the construction of the specific form of privileged tolerant/generous whiteness regulated by the health care system. Thus, the extreme form of white heterosexual femininity adopted by the midwives is also located within a discourse in which health care professionals’ understanding of the world is objective and neutral and, as such, ultimately designed to facilitate the well-being of all patients. The following is an extract of a conversation I had with a midwife during a coffee break, when I explained to her that I was interested in the situation faced by migrant women within the health care system: Midwife: What do you mean … how? Researcher: Well, there is a lot of research that shows that people are discriminated against. Midwife: Not here, we treat everybody alike … I understand what you are saying. Of course there is discrimination in the labour market and segregation, but this is about life and death. You do not think like this here. This is about women giving birth.

Needless to say, if I (the ‘non-white’ researcher) had asked whether midwives thought racial discrimination took place in the delivery room, I would have been regarded as monstrous – that I was thinking unthinkable questions. Discourses on ‘colour blindness’ were often linked to the positive aspects of multiculturalism: ‘I love to work here; you meet all the world.’ Each time issues regarding differences in access to health care between migrant and white women were discussed, midwives provided explanations that located these differences within their cultures. One example is the difference between the number of Swedish women and the number of migrant women who use post-natal clinics. Very few of the latter attend postnatal clinics:

Changing Relations of Welfare

166 Researcher: Why?

Midwife: Well, you know, it is mostly the pressure of their men, who want them to come home. They want them to be home to take care of the other children.

Not so surprisingly, when I asked one young mother of Palestinian origin why she did not intend to go to the post-natal clinic after the birth of her first child, she provided another explanation: You mean there, no, it is only for Swedes, I would be so isolated there. Only Swedes. I would feel really alone. They say that there is a lot of comfort, with TV and everything. But my sister-in-law was there and she told me that she was on her own with her daughter and nobody spoke to her.

All of the midwives I spoke to explained differences in health outcomes by locating the problem within the minority group themselves (for example, their diet was wrong, they were heavy smokers, came from patriarchal families, had many children). In an overview of the British literature on ethnic minority groups in the UK, the British researcher Savita Katbamna has asserted: ‘The tendency is certainly a recurrent feature of research on health: all too often medical researchers not only define the problems without consultation with the communities concerned, but explicitly or implicitly suggest that the causes of these problems are located within the communities themselves’ (Katbamna 2000: 16). Another important component in the denial of racism is discourses grounded in the white women’s burden, which is connected to concerns about rescuing, helping and educating the ‘other’. The following is an extract from a conversation that took place during a meeting in which midwives from different hospitals came together to discuss fear of childbirth. It is worth reproducing the whole sequence here in order to illustrate everyday, ‘normal’ institutional racism: Midwife 1: That we have foreign women is greatly problematic. Midwife 2: How do you translate? Do you have interpreters? It is so difficult. Midwife 3: It should be professional. It is very important. Midwife 4: We also have many foreign women. It is difficult to mediate complexities when one communicates through interpreters … it is so brutal. Midwife 5: In our clinic, we are firm and clear with men. There are some who want to translate and then I say the law says that you are not allowed to do this. Midwife 6: It is the worst when they want the children to translate.

Postcolonial Encounters


Midwife 7: I feel that in some cultures it is the kinship system that influences migrant women [invandrakvinnor] so that they demand Caesareans, such as women from Chile and Syria.

The dialogue opens with one of the midwives linking migrant women and particular minority ethnic populations with serious problems. Nobody in a room of over 15 midwives reacted to this. Some of those supporting this view had, in individual interviews, asserted that what made work in the birth clinic so inspiring was the (ethnic) diversity of patients. It is interesting to note that no one in the meeting thought of the experience of giving birth, following migration, exile and diaspora, as constituting a challenge either for the women concerned or for their families. There was no discussion of the confusion created by health care institutions themselves in using other resources (as I more than once witnessed with auxiliary nurses) when they were unable to find adequate interpreters, as summarized by an auxiliary nurse from Bolivia: It is actually my fault. During a coffee break, I told them that I could also speak Aymara and a little Quechua. And last week, they asked me to try to understand a woman from Romania … somebody had read that their language and Spanish is very similar … but I could not understand a word … They always say that they cannot find translators. That is not true. They seldom try. They do not want to have another migrant in the room.

The focus on the midwives’ conversation above illustrates the ‘burden’ the women about whom they were talking pose on midwives’ everyday routines. The way in which the women are categorized also moves from the notion of ‘foreign’ women, who are unable to speak the language of the nation, to migrant women who speak the language well but use it for what are perceived to be erroneous (and problematic) aims, such as wanting to have an elective caesarean, being too demanding or seeing racism everywhere. At the same time, and as this brief quotation from one of my interviews suggests, the immense difficulty that ‘the foreign’ imply reinforces the powerful self-esteem of white professional women: There was no interpreter; we said to her, ‘Do not hesitate. We will help you’ and her delivery went very well. She was very happy.

Postcolonial Swedish feminists have challenged the common-sense assumptions of the ‘women-friendly’ welfare state by highlighting the forms of gendered racism at the core of the Swedish welfare regime. One of the fields in which it has been almost impossible to develop an anti-racist agenda has been the field of health. The inclusive Swedish health care system is one of the most powerful symbols of the successful contract between labour and capital that has regulated the Swedish Social-Democratic regime since the late 1950s. There is also a long tradition of feminist Swedish literature that focuses on midwives as

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embodying feminist visions. In these analyses, the conflict between the feminism of white midwives and the more traditional views of white medical doctors ignores the whiteness of the actors involved. Men and Migrant Men In the conversation discussed above, one midwife proudly explained how she ‘educated’ migrant men through mention of the law in a (racist) context in which it is often argued that migrant groups lack the ‘democratic values’ that are at the core of Nordic/European cultures. Gender equality ideologies in Sweden demand the presence of fathers in the delivery room. More than one midwife spoke about the difficulties confronting migrant men when they are asked to support their partners during delivery. Some of them identified with these migrant men, based on a silent criticism of the prevailing gender contract in Sweden: Some migrant men, especially those from Muslim countries who were not born here, feel powerless in the delivery room. I can sometimes understand them. It is good that men want to participate, but some young migrant men act as if they were the ones having the babies.

In fact, the health care system does not function without a third person in the delivery room. In normal deliveries, midwives are in the room for five or ten minutes each hour to check on progress, and for 30 minutes of the delivery. This means that if there is no father in the room, women are on their own for hours. Midwives therefore not only welcome but positively encourage the presence of fathers. Their job is to deliver the baby, and the father’s is to comfort the mothers and support the midwives in what they want the mothers to do. According to midwives, fathers are ‘good’ when they take on this responsibility, which actually means fathers identifying entirely with the role of the midwife for the sake of the mother. When fathers are unable to do this and are too aware instead of their partner’s pain, they are less welcome in the delivery room as some of the comments from midwives I interviewed demonstrate: Some migrant men are too protective; they see that their women are in pain and they begin to demand things. Migrant men are demanding machines. Migrant men do not get it. They are here to support their women. Not to tell us what to do.

During my fieldwork, I experienced many interactions between midwives and men who worried about the development of the delivery. These interactions were

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regulated by the ability of these men to perform varied forms of cultural capital. The following is an illustration of how one midwife spoke about men demanding special attention for their partners in labour. The first comment is about a man of Muslim origin and the second about a young Swedish man: These men are not accustomed to treating women with respect. They think that they can decide because we are women. They think that they must be obeyed because they are men. So, I tell them. This is Sweden. I am the midwife. I decide. It is difficult for young men to understand what happens in the delivery room. Sometimes they feel so impotent that in desperation they lose their temper. It is not easy for them, so I try to calm them down, try to explain to them why we do what we do.

Midwives tended to experience migrant men as threatening, even when they were asking for the same kind of intervention (an epidural, for example, that requires the presence of an anaesthetist) or putting the same kind of questions as their Swedish counterparts. Whiteness and Categorization Processes There is no research on the ways in which the meanings of race and ethnicity are operationalized within the huge statistical apparatus of the Swedish health care system. One of the members of the medical staff in my study identified the different ways in which a woman from Bosnia could be categorized, including, among others, as ‘invandrare’ (‘migrant’ in Swedish), as Muslim, as Arabic, as ‘second generation’ or as a war victim. The following is an illustration of how the categories of race and ethnicity enter the birth clinic: Field notes. XXX have recently arrived. Both of them are in their early thirties. This is their first child. My midwife offers them the possibility of watching the TV and he makes a comment about the result of the local team in the football game. The midwife laughs and comments that her husband was also disappointed. When we are back in the office, she turns to me and says: ‘What a nice couple. Their parents are from Bosnia.’

This young couple had passed through the de-racialization process that often took place in the receiving ward and often during a first encounter such as this. The midwife had been able to recognize herself in the stable heterosexual couple and even though their migrant background was acknowledged, she conceptualized them as part of her shared local community.


Changing Relations of Welfare

While some categories of migrants were de-racialized, others experienced a process of considerable racialization, specifically women from Somalia and Romany women. The presence of a Somali woman giving birth changed the often calm atmosphere of the ward into one of crisis that, in turn, pervaded all conversations in the office hallway. According to Birgitta Essen (2001), such an atmosphere may pose a risk to the life of Somali women and their babies. These forms of racialization are, however, both contested and challenged as notes from my fieldwork demonstrate: A midwife comes into the office, very irritated and angry. A woman of Romany origin has given birth to a stillborn baby. She explodes: ‘There must be a limit to what we are expected to do. It seems that we cannot do anything until the head of the family comes … We are changing all the normal routines … If you ask me, this is crazy.’ A young doctor of migrant origin is also in the room and responds: ‘I thought they were fabulous, they came in five cars and were stopped by the police and all.’ The doctor’s comment seems to be the end of the discussion and the conversation moves to other topics. However, as we are leaving the office and going towards the delivery room, one of the auxiliary nurses turns to me and comments: ‘Yes, he is right. We Swedes are so alone in this kind of thing.’

The interaction between the white midwife and a doctor from a migrant background illustrates the ways through which class also produces complex hierarchies that both regulate and shape the link between ethnic belonging and subordination. The medical profession provides a powerful position from which doctors (even those with migrant backgrounds) relate to midwives (Hammarström 2001): a position that explains not only the ability of this particular doctor to challenge the midwife’s understanding, but also his capacity to move on to other topics. The doctor’s authority also explains how the auxiliary nurse reads the whole situation. If Somali and Romany women and men were conceptualized as existing outside the boundaries of the nation, the extended families that are present when some women with migrant backgrounds give birth were also categorized not only as different from the norm, but also as interfering with the midwife’s work and the security of other patients. In referring to the presence of more people than just the husband in the delivery room, one midwife complained: We are very tolerant here, but there are limits and those limits depend on medical criteria. It is impossible to work with a woman if there is a whole family speaking another language.

Midwives’ understanding of migrant families is thus highly paradoxical. On the one hand, many of the midwives I spoke to asserted that migrant families provide pregnant women with much more support and that migrant women were, according to their experience, less afraid of losing control because for them ‘it

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was more natural to give birth’. On the other hand, however, the families and family relationships that differed from the norm of the nuclear family were termed ‘over-dependent’ or ‘over-involved’. Migrant Women Resisting Racism The following three quotations represent three different strategies for resisting or challenging racial discrimination that I was able to identify in my conversations with some of the women with migrant backgrounds who were giving birth at the clinic. Go home, I want to go home. They smile all the time, too much smiling. I know what they think … forty and six children … I do not mind that they think we reproduce like rabbits … I … we … where I come from, I am Somali … we like big families. You know, when my husband said that he wanted to thank God for the safe delivery, our midwife said that we should also thank the medical staff. But we have already done that. My husband came with sweets for them. Well, it does not matter … I do not want to be here. I only want to go home (Mother from Somali background). I made sure that they had checked my birth plan. A friend of mine who comes from Bosnia told me that you have to do this very explicitly; otherwise they treat you as an ‘invandrare’ [migrant] and do not listen to your requests. And the first time the midwife tried to educate me about breast-feeding with ‘here in Sweden’, I told her that my husband had a degree in psychology from the UK, that I had finished my formal education as a lawyer in Teheran and that my sister works as a paediatrician in Ontario, and that we were capable of deciding what was best for our child ( Mother from Iranian background). To be able to get my mother here was a nightmare … with visa and never-ending stamps and photocopies … It was worth it, I wanted her to be able to celebrate a new born child after all the suffering. So when she was not allowed into the room because the visiting hours had ended … I began to cry and told them they were intolerant and lack a basic sense of humanity. My husband tried to close my mouth, but I could not stop … Who knows when I will meet my mother again? I do not know … stupid or racist; what is a person who cannot put herself in the place of others and only repeats: ‘There are rules in Sweden and everybody follows them …’ (Mother from Kurdish background).

A de-linking strategy, illustrated in the first quotation, was the most popular among migrant groups located within a position of subordinated exclusion in the Swedish gender/ethnic regime: this strategy was based on avoiding contact with health care professionals, making no demands on resources and expressing


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the desire to go home as soon as possible. The woman I spoke to was highly conscious of how racist discourses link children to ethnicity and ethnicity to racist representations that compared migrant families to animals that reproduce constantly (see, for example, Jonasdottir 1999, Ahlberg 2004). Her narrative also reflects the normative secularism regulating Swedish welfare institutions and Swedish welfare professionals. The midwife’s need to inform women with migrant backgrounds that it is not God but medicine that provides safe health care is an intervention that not only infantilizes religious beliefs, but misrecognizes the ways in which this particular couple expressed their gratitude. An illustration of this misrecognition is evident in the way in which one midwife comments on a gift she has received: I told them that I was very sorry, but I was not allowed to accept gifts. Not even small ones. She had a difficult delivery, she was fat and the baby was big. Poor thing, her labour took more than 24 hours, so I told her when I met her again on my second shift that I would stay with her until her baby was born. But everything went well. I tried to explain that here, you do not need to bribe health care professionals. We do what we have to do. I told them to send a postcard instead. I felt very uncomfortable, but I had to act properly.

A whole battery of racist representations of developing countries is at play in this midwife’s story. Boxes of chocolates and biscuits, with postcards thanking them for their wonderful attention during a delivery, are often shared by midwives during coffee breaks and are understood as signs of affection and gratitude, not bribes. It could be argued that the in the first of the three extracts above did not care: she was very happy with her new-born baby and her safe delivery. Her sense of place or, rather, the connection she makes between her sense of place and her sense of security and well-being (at home) confirms research results on migrants’ mobility in urban spaces, which demonstrate the tensions between feeling protected in segregated neighbourhoods and feeling at risk in places identified as ‘Swedish’ (Molina 1997). From this vantage point, she will be more comfortable at home surrounded by her extended family. But it could also be argued that her exit reveals that the resources at the birth clinic are targeted at those identified as ‘Swedish’ and are experienced similarly. The second quotation suggests a link between class and ethnicity at the core of the relationship between institutions of the Swedish welfare state and citizens with migrant backgrounds. The range and heterogeneity of the country’s immigration regime differentiate migrants not only on the basis of region, religion and political values, but also according to educational level and class background. The young woman born and brought up in Teheran is not breaking with her migrant background as such, but with representations of migrants as poor and uneducated. Her strategy, of confronting the midwives, evolves from migrant groups located in positions of subordinated inclusion, even if those suffering racial discrimination

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have stable employment, a steady career and a stake in the housing market. For the woman I spoke to, as for many others, the encounter with the Swedish health care system was regulated by her understanding (and her knowledge) of racial discrimination. Due to her migrant status, she expected midwives to disrespect her wishes and she asserted that she must demand more than the majority population in order to receive the same care as them. Her narrative also focuses on how she uses her cultural and class capital to defend herself from midwives’ efforts to teach her about the Swedish ways. The third quotation is of a different nature and is more difficult to link to a specific group. It reflects situations where the powerful monocultural health care system creates pain and reinforces the wounds of migration, family fracture and exile. I selected this narrative because it highlights experiences of racism that do not end in confrontations over which migrant women have some control, as in the earlier example, but in feelings of impotence and powerlessness. In this woman’s account, the issue is not the visiting hours as such, but the ways in which the visiting hours are used to ‘educate’ migrants about Swedish values. Her narrative also reflects how a monocultural institution lacks the ability to understand, or resists understanding, specific needs regarding family and family reunion within a multicultural society. When I asked the midwife about what had happened, she paradoxically referred to the ethnic composition of the hospital’s patients: ‘More than half of the patients are of migrant background here. If we allow her mother, then we have to allow all the others. We cannot turn this into a market place.’ Conclusion Three years have passed since I entered the birth clinic from which the empirical material presented in this text evolved. Arguments concerning racial discrimination in health care institutions are now emanating from within the medical profession. In her 2003 study, midwife and doctor Eva Roberston showed a clear association between country of birth and risk. Women from sub-Saharan Africa, Iran, Asia and Latin America had a higher risk of difficulties during childbirth than Swedish women. In a more recent study, Robertson suggests that these differences in outcome are related to the process of structural discrimination enacted against migrants (Robertson 2005). Any discussion about women, gender and family in Sweden must, therefore, acknowledge the specific ethnic regime regulating Swedish welfare institutions. My encounter with the birth clinic highlights the kind of discourses that occur regarding normality, rights and need (Fink et al. 2001) and demonstrates the racialized processes by which giving birth in a Swedish birth clinic render as problematic the experiences and expectations not only of women from minority ethnic backgrounds but also their husbands and wider family. Birth practices can thus be seen to embody, create and reinforce the boundaries of the (white/Nordic) nation and, in turn, to demonize and discriminate against those welfare subjects


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who, like the migrant woman and her family, are perceived to be different from the majority Swedish population. References Ahlberg, B.M. 2000. Making sense of female genital mutilation (FGM). Methodological failures in eradication. Sofia (Uppsala), 1, 22–25. Ahlberg B.M. 2004. Ett barn varje år. Invandrare och minoriteter: Tidskrift för forskning, politik, kultur och debatt, 2, 64–65. Ålund, A. 1989. The power of definitions: immigrant women and problem-centered ideologies. Migration, 4, 37–55. Ålund, A. and Schierup, C.-U. 1991. Paradoxes of Multiculturalism: Essays on Swedish Society. Aldershot: Avebury. Aracena, P. and Ibarra, P. 2009. I Sverige talar vi svenska. MANA, 1(2), 14–16. Bäärnhielm, S. and Saers, K. 1998. Psykisk ohälsa bland invandrare och flyktingar. Ser behoven och våbehoven och vården ut som vi tror? Läkartidningen, 95(14), 1532–1534. Bhabha, H. 2004. The Location of Culture. London: Routledge. Bhui, K. 2002. Racism and Mental Health: Prejudice and Suffering. London and Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley. Bohpal, R.S. 1992. Future research on the health of ethnic minorities. Back to basics: a personal view, in The Politics of ‘Race’ and Health, edited by W.I.U. Ahmad. Bradford: Race Relations Unit, University of Bradford, 267–275. Bredström, A. 2006. ‘Invandrare’ I svensk hiv- och aids policy 1985–2005: Från kulturpluralism till neo-assimilering, in Om välfärdens gränser och det villkorade medborgarskapet, edited by P. de los Reyes. SOU 2006:37. de los Reyes, P. 2006. Välfärd, medborgarskap och diskriminering, in Om välfärdens gränser och det villkorade medborgarskapet, edited by P. de los Reyes. SOU 2006:37. de los Reyes, P. and Molina, I. 2002. Kalla mörkret natt. Kön, klass och etnicitet i det postkoloniala Sverige, in Maktens (o)lika förklädnader. Kön, klass and etnicitet i det postkoloniala Sverige : en festskrift till Wuokko Knock, edited by P. de los Reyes et al. Stockholm: Atlas, 295–317. de los Reyes, P., Molina, I. and Mulinari, D. (eds). 2002. Maktens (o)lika förklädnader. Kön, klass and etnicitet i det postkoloniala Sverige : en festskrift till Wuokko Knocke. Stockholm: Atlas. Eduards, M. 2007. Kroppspolitik. Om moder svea och andra kvinnor. Stockholm: Atlas. Ekblad, S., Jansson, A. and Svensson, P.-G. 1996. Möten i vården. Transkulturellt perspektiv på hälso- och sjukvården. Stockholm: Liber. Essen, B. 2001. Perinatal Mortality among Migrants from Africa’s Horn: The Importance of Experience, Rationality and Tradition for Risk Assessment in Pregnancy and Childbirth. Lund: Faculty of Medicine, Lund University.

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Lpo. 1994. The 1994 Curriculum for Compulsory Schools. Stockholm: The Swedish Ministry of Education and Science. Malm, A. 2009. Hatet mot muslimer. Stockholm: Atlas. Melby, K., Ravn, A.-B. and Carlsson Wetterberg, C. (eds). 2008. The Limits of Political Ambition? Gender Equality and Welfare Politics in Scandinavia. Bristol: The Policy Press. Miles, R. 1993. Racism after ‘Race Relations’. London: Routledge. Molina, I. 1997. Stadens asifiering. Uppsala: Kulturgeografiska Institutionen, Uppsala University. Mulinari, D. 2001. ‘Race’/ethnicity in a ‘Nordic’ context: a reflection from the Swedish borderlands, in Svensk genusforskning i världen: globala perspektiv i Svensk genusforskning och Svensk genusforskning i ett globalt perspektiv, conference report, edited by A. Johansson. Örebro: Genussekretariatet, 6–24. Mulinari, D. and Neergaard, A. 2004. The new Swedish working class. Swedish unions and migrant workers. Race and Class, 3, 11­–28. Nygren, L. 1998. Trends of the 1990s in Swedish Welfare Policy: implications for social work education, in Social Change, Social Policy and Social Work in the New Europe, edited by A. Kwak and R. Dingwall. Aldershot: Ashgate, 141–152. Okin, S.M. with editors Cohen, J., Howard, M. and Nussbaum, M. 1999. Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women? Princeton: Princeton University Press. Ölandher, M. 2004. Immigrants in Swedish Health Care. Ethnologia Scandinavia, 34, 89–107. Otterbeck, J. and Bevelander, P. 2006 Islamofobi, en studie av begreppet, ungdomars attityder och unga muslimers utsatthet. Stockholm: Forum för Levande Historia. Pred, A. 1998. Even in Sweden: Racisms, Racialized Spaces, and the Popular Geographical Imagination, California Studies in Critical Human Geography, 8. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. Ranstorp, M. and Dos Santos, J. 2009. Hot mot demokrati och värdegrund. En lägesbild från Malmö. Stockholm: Centrum för Asymmetriska Hot och TerrorismStudier (CATS), Försvarshögskolan [College of Defense]. Regeringens proposition. 1975:25. Regeringens proposition om riklinjer för invandrar-och minoritetspolitik. Robertson, E. 2003. Aspects of Foreign-born Women’s Health and Childbirthrelated Outcomes: An Epidemiological Study of Women of Childbearing Age in Sweden. Stockholm: Allmänmedicin. Robertson, E. 2005. Invandrarkvinnor drabbas oftare än svenska kvinnor av komplikationer vid förlossningen, Rapport från Karolinska Institutet. Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, 84(9): 825–32. Rydgren, J. 2005. Is extreme right-wing populism contagious? Explaining the emergence of a new party family. European Journal of Political Research, 44(3), 413–37.

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Sandell, K. and Mulinari, D. (eds). 2006. Feministiska berättelse om och för en annan värld. Stockholm: Atlas. Schierup, C.-U., Hansen, P. and Castles, S. 2006. Migration, Citizenship and the European Welfare State: A European Dilemma. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Social Policy Board. 1989. Socialstyrelsen Författningssamling (SOSFS):13. SOU 1979:89, Kvinnors arbete. Om hemarbetande kvinnors situation, kvinnor försörjning, barns omsorg och mäns delaktighet i det oavlönade hemarbetet. Statens FolkhälsoInstitut. 2005. Särbehandlad och kränkt – en rapport om sambanden mellan diskriminering och hälsa. R 2005:49. Stockholm: Edita. Svallfors, S. and Taylor-Gooby, P. (eds). 1999. The end of the welfare state? Responses to state retrenchment. London: Routledge. Wamala, S. and Bildt, C. 2008. Svenska empiriska studier av sambandet mellan diskriminering och psykisk och fysisk ohälsa bland utlandsfödda. SOU 2008:76. Ware, V. 1992. Beyond the Pale: White Women, Racism and History. London: Verso. Wikström, H. 2007. Omöjliga positioner: familjer från Iran och postkoloniala reflektioner. Gothenburg: Institutionen för socialt arbete, Gothenburg University.

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Chapter 9

Afterword Janet Fink and Åsa Lundqvist

Introduction Throughout the 20th century, the institution of the family in Denmark, Sweden and Britain has been a constant object of political and social reform and, as in Europe more generally, concerns about population, morality and employment have been at the heart of family policies (Daly 2004) developed by the governments of these respective countries. Each has sought to define and regulate the family as institution but there have been few points historically in which the ideal of family life has accurately reflected the reality of family practices and relationships. The industrialization and modernization of British society at the end of the 19th century may have occurred earlier than in Denmark and Sweden but their effects upon family lives in all three countries proved to be gradual and often uneven so that, for example, changes in rural-urban migration, gender relations and family size did not occur consistently in time or place. Nevertheless, by the early 1930s, the government of each country was focused on defining the ‘modern’ family and its responsibilities but especially the responsibilities of women as wives and mothers. At one extreme of this focus was a common interest in eugenics as a way of ensuring the physical and psychological health of this family and, in turn, reducing the numbers of those who might need to be supported by the state. At the other was an emphasis on the work ethic, albeit with different concerns in Denmark, Sweden and Britain about women’s role in the public sphere. Ideas about what constituted modern family life shifted again in the post-war years although, through the 1950s and early 1960s, a different time gap emerged wherein policy and legislation struggled to accommodate the growing numbers of women moving into the labour market and the emerging changes to patterns of marriage, divorce and cohabitation. In Britain the legacy of the male-breadwinner and female-caregiver ideal continued to shape welfare reforms through the 1970s and 1980s with the result that policy making was slow to address the difficulties that parents, but mothers in particular, experienced in managing their paid employment with work in the home and the care of children. It was not until the end of the 21st century that the New Labour government significantly addressed rights and benefits for working mothers through improved parental leave schemes. Moreover it is also possible to identify a political and moral determination in Britain during the 1980s and 1990s to resist what were perceived to be damaging changes to the institution of the family, such as the increasing numbers of teenage pregnancies and absent fathers, albeit


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while recognizing the impact of wider demographic, economic and technological change upon society (Silva and Smart 1999). This is exemplified in, for example, a speech given in 1997 by the newly elected British Prime Minister Tony Blair in which he asserts: ‘We cannot say we want a strong and secure society when we ignore its very foundations: family life. … The world has changed, but I am a modern man leading a modern country and this is a modern crisis’ (The Guardian 1.10.1997). In contrast, policy approaches to work and family life in Sweden and Denmark were already being transformed during the 1970s by an ideal of the dual-breadwinner family model and the aim of gender equality remained a powerful imperative in family policy reform, especially in Sweden, from the mid1970s to the early 2000s. Here the institution of the family became increasingly conceptualized through questions of gender equality and the ways in which women and men can live equitably together and share the responsibilities for child care. The following extract from a Swedish government report, produced at a similar point in time to Tony Blair’s speech, provides a useful illustration of the differences between Swedish and British political discourses around family life at the end of the 20th century: Power and influence are marked by patterns of inequality between men and women. A large part of society’s structures is built upon a male norm. This norm, which is both visible and invisible, marks the way women and men organize their family life. This, in modern feminist research, is called a ‘gender power order’ meaning that men’s relative superior position and women’s relative subordinate position are maintained and reconstructed in our society. It is achieved through decisions and actions in everyday life, in working life, in politics. … To change this order is the most important challenge in gender equality policy today (Regeringens skrivelse 1996/97:41, our translation).

Yet the experiences of working mothers in Sweden and Denmark at the beginning of the 21st century reflect many of the difficulties facing British working mothers. Gendered inequalities in the labour market are remarkably persistent (Morgan 2006) in all three countries and the nature of parental choices around child care and paid employment remains contested because ‘the normative climate and cultural traditions surrounding the mother-child and father-child relationship are still gendered’ (Leira 2006: 45). Inconsistencies and Contradictions The disjuncture between the ideologies of family life embedded in policy and lived experiences thus marks these histories of interactions between the state, welfare systems and families through the past one hundred years. At the same time and as the chapters in this study have illustrated, accounts of the way policy, legislation and political rhetoric have focused on the family as institution



are fractured by inconsistency and contradiction as are analyses and personal narratives of the effectiveness of welfare systems in challenging the different inequalities experienced by women and families alike. This is the case whether the focus of analysis has been policies and legislation related to the financial support of families through tax reliefs, unemployment benefits and carers’ allowances or the provision of services such as health and maternity care. Moreover the aims of welfare policies, the delivery of services, the nature of interventions in family life by the state and the constitution of ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ claims for its services and benefits have shifted and changed at different points historically and in different ways across the three countries. Similarly changes and continuities in policy making have not always been consistent and neither have the connections between policy and practice, intervention and support or ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’, not least because the relationship between state and citizen, and their reciprocal responsibilities, was – and remains – a subject of debate and contestation. In this, the book offers further confirmation of Daly and Rake’s assertion that ‘Understanding the welfare state as a site of struggle means that one should not expect policy to be logical and coherent’ (Daly and Rake 2003: 165). But what more can be taken from the sense of struggle that has been highlighted in the accounts presented here of state, welfare and family lives through the 20th and into the 21st century? In addressing this question, we return to our introductory comments to the book wherein we proposed that there might be other pathways for reflecting on questions of change and continuity in histories of welfare state developments. One such pathway is to confront the difficulties and opportunities that the absence of logic and coherency brings to any historical or contemporary account of policy making. This is especially fruitful for analyses which are determined not to view families as a homogenous group in which gendered roles and relations are systematically shaped by policy and practice and which seek to explore how welfare interventions are experienced by families of different class, racial or ethnic backgrounds. It is also crucial for unpicking the relationship between family life and welfare citizenship in order to reveal assumptions about the homogeneity of the nation state and to map how these assumptions have worked to exclude ‘other’ families from equal access to and experience of welfare provision and practice (Williams 1989, 1995). We would suggest, therefore, one way in which issues of struggle, inconsistency, difference and complexity can be productively interrogated is through an appreciation of the significance of culture and an acknowledgement of its potential for the analysis of welfare states and their effects. Culture and the Cultural Turn The meanings of culture and the insights gained from the ‘cultural turn’ in policy analysis have become the focus of increasing interest in recent years (see for example Van Oorschot et al. 2008, Clarke 2004, Duncan and Pfau-Effinger 2000,


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Chamberlayne et al.1999). This turn to culture has not only illustrated what insights are to be drawn from such an approach, as in Prue Chamberlayne’s study of carers in Britain and Germany, which combines ‘analysis of experience, belonging, agency and social structural position’ (Chamberlayne 1999: 154) to produce a rich and nuanced account of the informal sphere and the porosity of its boundaries. The cultural turn has also pointed to the way in which regime typologies have tended to simplify the complexity of policy mechanisms and ignore variations within the same regime type (Ellingsæter 1998) and to what can be learnt from the complex interrelations between institutions, structures and social actors and the influences of cultural ideals and values (Pfau-Effinger 2008, Duncan and Edwards 1999). While each of these approaches to a more culturally informed analysis of welfare states holds much of value, it is Clarke’s (2004: 39) conception of culture as ‘the product of practice’ which resonates most closely with our concerns here of the meanings and effects of welfare policies and their legacies for contemporary welfare systems. In particular, his understanding of culture is important because it ‘brings to the fore questions of accommodation, negotiation, resistance and contention – rather than merely subordination, subjection and compliance’ (Clarke 2004: 40). Such a conceptualization indicates the significance of agency for historical and contemporary accounts of welfare and highlights the determination of interest groups, social movements and individuals to challenge and shape the development of policy and critique its outcomes. What can emerge, as a result, is a clearer identification not only of what has been perceived to be at stake across and within welfare states regarding the definition and regulation of family life but also who were the social agents with power and influence at particular historical moments, what was the nature of their investments in family policy and in what ways were welfare provision and practice experienced. Service Level and State Level Encounters There are clearly different levels at which struggles over the meanings, effects and experiences of policy, provision and practice occur. There is, first, what might be called the service level encounter, wherein the values and assumptions of welfare professionals can not only shape how services and benefits are delivered to families but also inform decisions about which families are deemed to be ‘in need’. It is this encounter which brings into view how families and family members have themselves refused, negotiated and managed welfare interventions and, additionally, how such interventions have been understood in the wider social, economic and demographic contexts in which their lives are experienced. Thus the intersections of class, race, ethnicity and religion can be seen as powerful factors in constituting and framing the relationships between welfare professionals and families and, in addition, shaping the ways in which ‘universal’ policies such as health and education are perceived and received, not least because conceptions of universalism have seldom been attenuated by questions of difference. As Lewis



has argued (2004) differential social power is made tangible in the context of specific welfare institutions and their interpersonal dynamics. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in Chapters 6 and of this collection, where we are given access to the voices of welfare subjects and hear the processes by which migrant families are marginalized and viewed with suspicion when making claims upon the benefits and services of Britain and Sweden’s welfare states. While the experiences of migration, family formations and health care needs of members of the older generation of British Pakistani families and pregnant mothers from minority ethnic populations in Sweden might be regarded as very different, their encounters with welfare professionals have many similarities in terms of the racialized assumptions made in welfare services about the lives of families and their gendered roles and relationships. We would argue, therefore, that the development of further empirical studies such as these holds the potential for productive comparisons between the agency of welfare subjects in different institutional settings in different countries and the ways in which individuals have been able to confront expectations of welfare professionals and challenge their ‘education’ by the majority population. All the chapters in this collection demonstrate the extent to which the normative view of family life in policy making has had – and continues to have – a set of particular national values rooted at its core, indicating thereby the state level of encounters between policy and family lives. In the first half of the 20th century, the relationship between policy, welfare provision and families was constructed in Denmark, Sweden and Britain alike through particular constitutions of the familial roles and responsibilities of fathers and mothers, husbands and wives and parents and children. Moreover in constructing such responsibilities, the state’s responsibilities to support some formations of family but not others could be similarly identified and validated. There were different perceptions of the nature of these gendered responsibilities especially in respect of the breadwinner models at the core of policy making and how the balance between economic and caring resources should, or could, be organized within families, but the constitution of family roles and responsibilities has been an important site of divergence and contestation over meaning and effect in each of the three countries. For example, the different points of tension around Denmark’s marriage laws and its tax law system are mapped in Chapter 3 through a focus upon struggles over the idea of gender equality which was used to support the institution of marriage within the emerging welfare state and, in later years, to encourage women’s entry into the labour market. This account reveals that, in the early period, the state pursued the aim of gender equality within the institution of the family but, later, married women’s ‘de-familialization’ (Lister 1997: 173) became its focus. Yet the account also illustrates the ways in which women lobbied government commissions and Parliament, through different political and labour organizations, to ensure that their views were heard and reflected in legislative and policy reforms. Such an example of women refusing to accept either the inconsistencies or the injustices embedded at the state level of policy making can be similarly


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traced in Britain through the 1930s’ Spinsters’ Pension Campaign. Here older single women in paid employment (and thus positioned outside policy’s normative boundaries of womanhood and family life) protested against what they perceived to be the unjust nature of the contributory state retirement scheme and its failure to recognize the difficulties which women, such as themselves, had in establishing the full insurance records needed for their pensions. It is hardly necessary to note that many women today still experience difficulties in maintaining continuous records of employment because of the often insecure and part-time nature of women’s paid work and their responsibilities to provide domestic and parental care in the home (Pfau-Effinger and Geissler 2005, Meyer 2000, Lewis 1998). Although the Spinsters’ Pension Campaign is a helpful illustration of women’s agency it stands, too, as an invaluable reminder that women are not a homogenous group. Questions of class, age and employment status were as crucial as marital status to the ways in which this campaign was organized and the interests represented. Thus the cultural turn and its concern with struggles over welfare policy and provision at the state level can also help illuminate what is at stake for which families and for which women. For, despite the advantages that questions of gender equality has brought not only to analyses of European welfare states but also to improvements in women’s employment and caring responsibilities, we would argue that gender inequalities can no longer be considered in isolation from other social and political inequalities. The increasing diversity among women in Denmark, Sweden and Britain and in the practices and relationships that shape their family lives demands a more consistent analytical focus in discussions of European welfare states because gender inequalities ‘cannot in fact be considered in a monolithically and culturally homogenous way and referred only to “native populations”’ (Calloni and Lutz 2000: 144). This is especially the case at the beginning of the 21st century when state-level concerns about migration and the way minority ethnic populations understand their roles and responsibilities through ‘traditional’ rather than ‘modern’ conceptions of family life have become increasingly evident. One reason for this, as Sales (2007) has noted in relation to the development of permanent settlement and particularly family reunion, is that concerns are linked to anxieties about potential changes to the cultural and ethnic composition of the national polity and to questions about what constitutes national identity. Attention to the diversity of family lives together with women’s different employment and caring experiences and expectations can not only deepen analysis of the ways in which political attention has shifted in all three countries to parents and parenting practices in the past decade (Ellingsæter and Leira 2006, Williams 2004) but also broaden understanding of the long-standing questions about which family formations deserve support from the state. In Britain the concern with parents and parenting has resulted in policy developments by the New Labour governments around parental leaves, rights to request flexible working and more affordable child care and in a focus on parental choice in related political



discourses. However there is also a more regulatory and authoritarian emphasis on parenting practices (Gambles forthcoming). This has been identified by Gewirtz (2001), in the context of education, as ‘the latest stage in a long history of state-sponsored attempts to transform the parenting behaviour of working-class parents’ and an attempt ‘to universalize the values, attitudes and behaviour of a certain fraction of middle-class parents’ (Gewirtz 2001: 136). While issues of social class have not been of comparable political interest in Sweden and Denmark, the importance of choice in the context of paid work, education and child care does feature equally in Swedish and Danish policy and political rhetoric. Nevertheless Denmark’s Action Plan for Gender Equality illustrates the way in which political rhetoric around choice has been integrated with the issue of gender while questions of race and ethnicity remain on the margins: ‘Personal freedom and freedom of choice for women and men apply to all living in Denmark. Everyone is to enjoy equal opportunities to define the goals of one’s life, concerning both the choice of education, work, as well as partner. This applies, of course, also to ethnic minorities’ (see Chapter 7: 134 for further discussion). However as this study has demonstrated, the opportunity to make choices, in whatever welfare arena, has long been circumscribed by the wider social and economic contexts in which individuals and families find themselves and, more specifically, by the gendered inequalities of paid employment and care. The gender-neutral language of parenthood policies work to elide such constraints and contexts but, as Jane Lewis and Susanna Giullari (2005) have argued in a related analysis of the challenges facing policy-makers with respect to gender equality and care: Even if the same amount of income is given to a man and a woman, the woman’s freedom to choose employment and care is still going to be unequal to that of a man. … while the pregnant woman’s freedom to choose employment as well as care requires the right not to be dismissed from work and the provision of maternity leave (Lewis and Giullari 2005: 90–91).

With these issues in mind, it is also important to acknowledge how much more unequal are the choices of migrant mothers compared to those of women from majority populations. Conclusion The emphasis in this book on the many contradictions and contestations that have had to be managed and negotiated as policy and legislation targeted at the family was made and re-made through the 20th century has offered a very particular view of how the welfare states of Denmark, Sweden and Britain have developed. At the same time, it has exemplified some of the reasons why the institution of the family at the beginning of the twenty first century features so centrally in welfare policy


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and practice. Neither the ideal nor the realities of family lives have ever remained static and so pressures on the state to address new and emerging patterns of care, work and migration continue to be the subject of ongoing (re)negotiation (Daly and Rake 2003). In turn our emphasis has pointed to another dynamic of change by demonstrating the different ways in which social movements and political actors have challenged and shaped the nature of policy reforms. Such struggles also continue and, in relation to our concerns, can be understood as the product of earlier and unresolved debates and conflicts about the inequalities of gender relations together with a reluctance to acknowledge the diversity of families in the past and the present. In short, the patterns of continuity and change examined here both illustrate how the legacy of 19th and 20th century ideas, norms and values have shaped family lives and foreground how different policies, services and benefits have impacted upon family practices and relationships. Welfare systems have, historically, had more positive consequences for some family formations than for others but, as this study has argued, these systems are always in flux and opportunities to redress their failures and build upon their successes are never entirely out of reach. References Calloni, M. and Lutz, H. 2000. Gender, migration and social inequalities: the dilemmas of European citizenship, in Gender, Economy and Culture in the European Union, edited by S. Duncan and B. Pfau-Effinger. London: Routledge, 143–70. Chamberlayne, P., Cooper, A., Freeman, R. and Rustin, M. (eds). 1999. Welfare and Culture in Europe. Towards a New Paradigm in Social Policy. London and Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 151–71. Chamberlayne, P. 1999. Cultural analysis of the informal sphere, in Welfare and Culture in Europe, edited by P. Chamberlayne et al. Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Clarke, J. 2004. Changing Welfare, Changing States. New Directions in Social Policy. London: Sage. Daly, M. 2004. Changing conceptions of family and gender relations in European welfare states and the Third Way, in Welfare State Change, edited by J. Lewis and R. Surender. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 135–155. Daly, M. and Rake, K. 2003. Gender and the Welfare State. Care, Work and Welfare in Europe and the USA. Oxford: Polity. Duncan, S. and Edwards, R. 1999. Lone Mothers, Paid Work and Gendered Moral Rationalities. London: Macmillan. Duncan, S. and Pfau-Effinger, B. (eds). 2000. Gender, Economy and Culture in the European Union. London: Routledge. Ellingsæter, A.L. 1998. Dual breadwinner societies: Provider models in the Scandinavian Welfare States. Acta Sociologica, 41 (1), 59–73.



Ellingsæter, A.L. and Leira, A. (eds). 2006. Politicizing Parenthood in Scandinavia. Bristol: The Policy Press. Gambles, R. forthcoming. Supernanny, parenting and a pedagogic state. Citizenship Studies. Gewirtz, S. 2001. Cloning the Blairs: New Labour’s programme for the resocialization of working-class parents. Journal of Education Policy, 16(4), 365–378. Leira, A. 1992. Welfare States and Working Mothers: The Scandinavian Experience. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Leira, A. 2006. Parenthood change and policy reform in Scandinavia, 1970s–2000s, in Politicizing Parenthood in Scandinavia, edited by A.L. Ellingsæter and A. Leira. Bristol: The Policy Press, 27–51. Lewis, G. 2004. ‘Do not go gently … ’: Terrains of citizenship and landscapes of the personal’, in Citizenship: Personal Lives and Social Policy, edited by G. Lewis. Bristol: The Policy Press, 1–37. Lewis, J. 1998. Gender, Social Care and Welfare State Restructuring in Europe. Aldershot: Ashgate. Lewis, J. and Giullari, S. 2005. The adult worker model family, gender equality and care: the search for new policy principles and the possibilities and problems of a capabilities approach. Economy and Society, 34(1), 76–104. Lister, R. 1997. Citizenship: Feminist Perspectives. Basingstoke: Macmillan Press. Meyer, M.H. (ed.). 2000. Care Work: Gender, Labour and the Welfare State. London: Routledge. Morgan, K.J. 2006. Working Mothers and the Welfare State: Religion and the Politics of Work-Family Policies in Western Europe and the United States. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. Pfau-Effinger, B. 2008. Gender and European welfare states, in Culture and Welfare State: Values and Social Policy in Comparative Perspective, edited by W.Van Oorschot et al. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 115–142. Pfau-Effinger, B. and Geissler, B. 2005. Care and Social Integration in European Societies. Bristol: The Policy Press. Regeringens skrivelse.1996/97:41. Sales, R. 2007. Understanding Immigration and Refugee Policy: Contradictions and Continuities. Bristol: The Policy Press and the Social Policy Association. Silva, E. and Smart, C. (eds). 1999. The New Family? London: Sage. Van Oorschot, W., Opielka, M. and Pfau-Effinger, B. (eds). 2008. Culture and Welfare State: Values and Social Policy in Comparative Perspective. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. Williams, F. 1989. Social Policy: A Critical Introduction. Issues of Race, Class and Gender. Oxford: Polity Press. Williams, F. 1995. Race/ethnicity, gender and class in welfare states: a framework for comparative analysis. Social Politics 2(2), 127–159. Williams, F. 2004. Rethinking Families. London: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

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abortion, in Sweden 69 affirmative action programmes, in Denmark 139 agricultural economy in Britain 19–20 in Denmark 41, 58 Ahlberg, Beth Maina 157 Akdogan, Yildiz 142 Åkerman, Brita 70 Allatt, Patricia 103 Ålund, Alexandra 158 army service, and migrants from Pakistan 114–15 arranged marriages Action Plans against in Denmark 140, 147–8 and British Pakistani families 119–21 Atkins, Mabel 18–19 Attendance Allowance 31 Bangladeshis in the UK 121, 125, 127 Beck, U. 1 benefit rates, and the male breadwinner model 5, 91 Benhabib, S. 122 Beveridge, William, Social Insurance and Allied Services (1942 Report) 5, 23, 27, 101, 103–4 Bhabha, Homi 162 birth control policies 4 in Sweden 69–70 birth rates see declining birth rates Blair, Tony 31, 180 Booth, Charles 17 Bosanquet, Bernard 22 Bosanquet, Helen 6, 22, 25 Bowlby, John, Child Care and the Growth of Love 25 Bradley, David, Family Law and Political Culture 51, 57

breadwinner models 5–6 British 5–6, 17–34, 179 Danish 5, 40, 46, 137, 138, 139, 144, 180 and the Scandinavian welfare state 137 Swedish 5, 68, 180 Bredal, A. 148 bridge discourses and family policy in Sweden 79 in welfare states 66 Britain 2, 10, 17–34, 87–106, 179–80 child care system 7 development of family policies 4 employment in 7, 34 family policies and New Labour 2–3, 104–6, 179–80, 184–5 gender equality policies 7–8 gender inequalities 17–19 immigration policies/controls 112, 115–17 long-hours culture 34, 105 male breadwinner model 5–6, 17–34, 87–8, 90–1, 98, 101, 104–5, 179 marital status and welfare policies 87–106 migrant families see British Pakistani families National Health Service Act (1948) 102, 114 parental leave 7, 104–5 post‑war welfare state, rights and responsibilities of marriage 101–4 see also single women in Britain; UK legislation British Pakistani families 8, 9, 111–28, 183 case studies 112–14, 117, 119–20, 121, 124–5, 126


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chain migration 115 a nd family reunification 114, 117–19 local kinship 115, 123 and marriage migration 9, 111, 119–21, 127 migration for family care 121–3 numbers 115 secondary immigration 116–17 and state welfare 123–7 and transnationalism 111 and UK immigration policies 112, 115–17, 119–21, 121–2 ‘waves’ of migration and settlement 114 Burgess, Ernest W. 68 Calloni, M. 8 care/carers and British Pakistani families 121–4 and gender 7 and the male breadwinner model in Britain 5, 19, 23–6, 28–9, 31–3, 33, 34 Carers Allowance (CA) 29 Carers UK 33 cash benefits, and migrant families in Denmark 142–3 cash payments for carers 33 CEDAW (Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women) 140 Cekic, Özlem 142 Chamberlayne, Prue 182 Charities Organization Society 22 Chaudhuri, M. 128 child allowances, in Denmark 50, 55 child health care, in Sweden 69 child tax credits, in Britain 31, 32 childcare experts, single women in Britain as 87 childcare policies in Britain 104, 184–5 and the male breadwinner model 5, 19, 24–5, 31, 34 in Denmark 144 and the Scandinavian welfare state 149 in Sweden 68, 75–7

children, of British Pakistani families 112–14, 117, 118–19 citizenship in Britain, and South Asian migrants 114, 117, 118, 119 in Denmark 40, 42, 43, 45, 48, 50 and multiculturalism 9, 139, 140 models of 139 rights in Britain 101 and welfare provision 10 Clarke, J. 182 Clarke, Walter J. 29–30 class and birth rates in Britain 29 and child care 185 and culture and ethnicity in Sweden 157, 172–3 norms and values around 4 and tax laws in Denmark 56–7 cohabiting couples, and the British post‑war welfare state 104 cohabiting women, and the male breadwinner model 27 Commonwealth countries, migration to Britain from 114–23 communitarianism in Denmark 139 Crowther, M.A. 94 cultural capital, and men in birth clinics 169 cultural diversity and Danish welfare policies 134, 139, 141–4 forced/arranged marriages 147–8 and Scandinavian welfare states 148–9 cultural pluralism, and multiculturalism in Denmark 139 culture, British Pakistani families and family‑based care 123–4 culture/cultural turn 181–2 Daly, M. 10, 181 Danish Women’s National Council 54–5 Danish Women’s Society 6, 41, 43, 44–5, 53–4, 55 Das, V. 127 declining birth rates in Britain 23, 29, 94

Index in Sweden 5, 67–9 Denmark 2, 4, 39–59, 179 divorce 45–7, 50, 51–2 dual‑breadwinner model 5, 40, 46, 137, 138, 139, 144, 180 eugenics 47–9 ‘flexicurity’ in 138 gender equality 8, 39–59, 133–4, 137–9, 183, 185 exceptionalism policy 148, 149 and integration policies 141–8 immigration issues 135, 139–40 marriage and marriage laws 6, 39–40, 41, 42–52, 53, 56, 173 Action Plans against arranged/ forced marriages 140, 147–8 maternity leave 57 migration 3, 8, 9, 138–9 migrant population characteristics 139 multiculturalism/diversity 139–44 integration policies 141–4 Muslim women and headscarves 145–6 paternity leave 57 tax law reforms 6, 40, 41, 52–7 welfare systems and social inequalities 10, 58–9, 133, 137–50 the Depression (1930s), and single women in Britain 88–9 difference, and migrant families 9 disabled people, care for, in Britain 32, 34–4 discrimination and midwives in Sweden 165, 173 and migrant families 8 and unmarried mothers in Britain 102 divorce in Britain, and world wars 90, 97 in Denmark 45–7, 50, 51–2 in Sweden 72, 74 joint custody following 74, 80–1 divorced mothers in Britain 23 domestic violence, in Sweden 79 economic citizenship in Denmark 40, 43 economic growth in Denmark 40


a nd migrant workers 8 in Sweden 73, 80 economic migration 120 education in Britain 17 elderly people, care for in Britain 5, 19, 32, 34, 87 British Pakistani families 121–3 employment in Britain gender inequalities 17, 18, 23, 26, 34, 184 and New Labour 104–5 Pakistani migrants 114–15, 121 and the post‑war welfare state 101–2 single women 91–4 unmarried mothers 98, 99, 100 in Denmark 45 gender and ethnic inequalities 141–3, 145 and the male breadwinner model 5, 88 in Sweden, migrant women 159, 162 see also labour‑market participation equal pay and the male breadwinner model 21, 24 and single women in Britain 91–4 Essen, Birgitta 170 ethnic assimilation and cultural pluralism in Denmark 139, 141–4 in Sweden 159–62 eugenics movement 4, 179 in Britain 94 in Denmark 47–9 in Sweden 69–70 European Council, Equal Treatment directive 23, 28 European Court of Human Rights, and UK immigration rules 119 European workers in Britain 116 expert discourses, in welfare states 66 Fabian Society 18 family allowances 18, 22, 28 and the Beveridge Report 23 family policy 2–4, 185–6


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i n Britain 2–3, 104–6, 179–80, 184–5 and gender 4, 6–8 inconsistencies and contradictions in 180–1 meanings, norms and values in 4–6 multiculturalism and migration 8–9 in Sweden 4, 65–81, 180 family practices 1–2 family responsibilities and birth clinics in Sweden 173 and single women in Britain 91–4 family reunification and British Pakistani families 134 and migrants in Denmark 130, 134, 139 family wage in Britain 17, 20, 21 fathers in Sweden and family policy 74, 76, 78, 80–1 migrant men in birth clinics 168–9 Feddersen, Astrid Stampe 44–5 female circumcision 157 feminism and family policy in Sweden 78–9, 80, 81 and multiculturalism 133 and the Scandinavian welfare state 135–7, 149–50 see also postcolonial feminism femininity, and midwives in Sweden 162–4 Ferguson, S. 98, 99 Finer Committee 26, 30 First World War, and single women in Britain 88, 89, 93, 96–7 Fitzgerald, H. 98, 99 ‘flexicurity’ in Denmark 138 forced marriages, Action Plans against in Denmark 9, 140, 147–8 France, Napoleonic Code 51 Fraser, Nancy 66 Gascoigne Hartley, Catherine 97 gender and family policy 4, 6–8 and midwives in Sweden 162–4

and migrant families 2, 111 British Pakistani 117–19, 121–2, 122–3, 126, 127–8 in Denmark 133 UK immigration laws 118–19, 122–3 and woman‑friendly Scandinavian welfare states 133, 134–7 gender equality policies 6–8, 10 Britain 7–8 Denmark 8, 39–59, 133–4, 137–9, 183 Action Plans 146–7, 185 and integration policies 141–8 Norway 138, 146–7 and the Scandinavian welfare state 133–4, 136–7, 146–7 Sweden 75–81, 138, 146–7, 161 gender inequalities 180, 186 in Britain 17–19, 184 post‑war welfare state 101–4 see also single women in Britain gender‑neutral discourse, in Sweden 65–6, 74–5, 77, 78 gender‑role research, and family policy in Sweden 72–3, 76, 77–9 Gewirtz, S. 185 Giddens, A. 1 Giullari, Susanna 185 Groves, D. 95, 96 Harris, Jose 18 Harvey, David 159 Healey, Denis 30 health care system in Sweden, midwives and minority ethnic women 156–7, 162–74 Hernes, Helga M. 136, 147, 149 Hirdman, Yvonne 79, 80 housewives, and the male breadwinner model 21, 23 housework and sickness benefit for women 28 and tax laws in Denmark 53 illegitimate children in Britain 87, 90, 94 and the post‑war welfare state 103

Index statistics on live births 90 i n Denmark 42, 50 see also unmarried mothers immigration issues in Denmark 135, 139–40 immigration policies, British 112, 115–17, 119–21 and dependent children 118–19 ‘habitual residence test’ 127 husbands ban 118 marriage migration and the primary purpose rule 120–1 and migration for family care 121–2 partials and non‑partials 116 skilled/unskilled employment vouchers 116 immigration policies, Swedish 158 Income Support, and British Pakistani families 127 income tax in Britain 29–31 individual citizen worker model 33 industrialization in Britain 19–20, 179 and family policy in Sweden 68, 69, 71–2 infant mortality, in Britain 17, 24, 25 integration policies in Denmark 141–4 Invalid Care Allowance (ICA) 28–9 Jopke, C.


Katbamna, Savita 166 Kessler‑Harris, Alice 40 Knowles, Lilian 29–30 Kock, Karin 71 Kruse, F. Vinding 45 labour‑market participation and caring responsibilities 7 in Denmark 40, 51, 53, 54, 142–3 migrants 8, 9, 142–3 in Sweden 73, 75 women 40, 51, 53, 54, 73, 75, 135 lesser eligibility, principle of 27 Lewis, G. 182–3 Lewis, Jane 185 Lloyd George, David 29 Lundqvist, Agne 71–2


Lutheranism, and gender equality in Denmark 57–8 Lutz, H. 8 Lynd, Robert 68 male breadwinner model in Britain 5–6, 17–34, 90–1, 104–5, 179 and single women 87–8 and unmarried mothers 87–8, 98, 101 in Sweden 72–3, 74 marginality, and British Pakistani families 125, 183 marital status, and welfare policies in Britain 87–106 marriage arranged marriages 9, 119–21, 147–8 in Britain and the breadwinner model 19, 26 married men’s tax allowance 29, 30–1, 32 in Denmark forced marriages 9, 147–8 and marriage laws 6, 39–40, 41, 42–52, 53, 56, 147–8, 183 marriage bars 18 marriage migration, and British Pakistanis 9, 111, 119–21, 127 married women in Britain, and the male breadwinner model 21–2, 23, 27–9, 90–1 in Sweden, and post‑war family policy 70, 72, 73 Marshall, Alfred 24, 26 maternity benefits in Britain 31, 102–3, 104–5 in Sweden 76 maternity care in Sweden 69, 157, 162–74 maternity leave in Denmark 57 means‑tested benefits in Britain 27 and British Pakistani families 125, 127 mental health problems, and culture and ethnicity 157


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middle‑class women in Britain 21–2, 96 in Denmark 52, 52–3 and marriage bars 18 migrant 171–3 midwives in Sweden 157, 162–74 denial of racism 164–8 gender and national belonging 162–4 on men and migrant men 168–9 whiteness and categorization processes 169–71 migrant families 2, 3 British Pakistani 8, 9, 111–28, 183 norms and values around 4–5 migrant men, and midwives in Sweden 168–9 migrant women 4 in Denmark 8, 133–4, 137–9, 141–8 and gender equality 185 in Sweden 155–62 employment 159, 162 and midwives 157, 162–74 see also British Pakistani families; marriage migration 8–9 and the Danish welfare regime 138–9 from early 20th century Britain 29 and multiculturalism in Denmark 8, 139–44 and Nordic marriage reform 44 and Scandinavian welfare states 133 Moberg, Eva 73 Moral Welfare Association (MWA) 99 mothers in 20th century Britain 17–18, 23–5, 33–4 and childcare policies in Sweden 75–7 multiculturalism 8–9 in Britain 3 in Denmark 8, 139–44 and feminism 133 and woman‑friendly Scandinavian welfare states 133, 134–7 Muslims in Denmark, women and headscarves 145–6 in Sweden 161–2 pregnancy and birth 164, 168, 169

Myrdal, Alva 20, 67, 71 Myrdal, Gunnar 67 National Council for the Unmarried Mother and Her Child (NCUMC) 6, 99, 100 National Insurance and the male breadwinner model 5, 6, 91 and the post‑war welfare state 102–4 and women 184 National Spinsters’ Pension Association (NSPA) 95–7 National Union of Societies for Equal Citizenship 92 navy service, and migrants from Pakistan 114–15 needs discourses in welfare states 66 neo‑liberal reforms in Sweden 159 Nordic cooperation, and gender equality in Denmark 43–5, 51 Nordic welfare states, and gender equality 40 norms and values, in family policy 4–6 Norway 50 gender equality policies 138 marriage reform 44 taxation laws, separate taxation of spouses 56 welfare state 133 NSPA (National Spinsters’ Pension Association) 95–7 nuclear families and the male breadwinner model 5 privileging of 1–2 OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries, and Scandinavian welfare states 135 Ogburns, William Fielding 68 Okin, Susan Moller 161 oppositional needs discourses, in welfare states 66 Pakistan see British Pakistani families Paley, Mary 24 parental insurance in Sweden 76–7

Index parental leave in Britain 7, 104–5 in Denmark 57, 144–5 in Sweden 76, 78 parental role in British family policy 7 part‑time work, and women in Britain 7, 34 Pateman, Carole 40 paternity leave in Denmark 57 in Sweden 80 Pigou, Arthur 24–6 policy making and welfare systems 2–4 Poole, D. 127 Poor Law Act (1601) 94 Poor Law reforms, and the male breadwinner model 26–7 population, anxiety about quality/decline of 4 post‑natal depression 163–4 postcolonial feminism 137 and the Swedish welfare state 158–9 poverty in Britain 17 and single women 88–9 and marriage in Denmark 49 Powell, Enoch 116 pregnancy and birth see midwives in Sweden property rights and women in Britain 18, 30, 51 in Denmark 42 protective legislation in Britain 20, 43 in Denmark 43 Protestantism, and gender equality in Denmark 57–8 race and ethnicity 4 and gender equality 7–8 and health care in Sweden 156–7 inequalities of 8, 10 and midwives in Sweden 157, 162–74 migrant families 2 British Pakistani 117–19 and multiculturalism in Denmark 8, 139–44 Rake, K. 10, 181


Rasmussen, Poul Nyrup 140 Rathbone, Eleanor 22, 23, 25, 34, 92–3 religion, and gender equality in Denmark 47, 50, 57–8 reprivatization needs discourses, in welfare states 66 Robertson, Eva 173 Rowntree, Seebohm 17 and Stuart, Frank, The Responsibility of Women Workers for Dependants 91–2, 93 Royal Commission on Income Tax 29–30 Royal Commission on the Poor Laws and the Relief of Distress 17–18, 22 Royal Commission on Unemployment Insurance 93 Royal Commissions 17–18 Sainsbury, Diane 58 Sales, R. 184 Sandys, Duncan 116 Scandinavian Family Commission 44, 45, 51 Scandinavian welfare states 148–9 woman‑friendly 133, 134–7 Second World War and single women in Britain 89–90 unmarried mothers 98–101 Segerstedt, Torgny 71–2 sex discrimination, in British immigration rules 118–19 sex education in Sweden 69 sexuality and single women spinsters 97 unmarried mothers 98 SFI (Danish Institute for Social Research), on integration policies 143 sickness benefit, and married women in Britain 27–8 single women in Britain 4, 87–97 as childcare experts 87 employment and equal pay debates (1920s) 91–4 and the First World War 88, 89 and the male breadwinner model 5–6, 23, 87–8 and the post‑war welfare state 101–4, 105


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Spinsters’ Pension Campaign 6, 88–9, 94–7, 184 statistics on (1911‑51) 89 see also unmarried mothers social care, and the male breadwinner model 5, 19 social citizenship 10 Social Democratic Women’s Association (Sweden) 77 Social Democratic Women’s Clubs (Denmark) 41, 54, 55 Social Housing Commission 67 social justice and the Spinsters’ Pension Campaign 96–7 in Sweden 70 sociological time 3 Sommestad, Lena 58 South Asian populations see British Pakistani families Spinsters’ Pension Campaign 6, 88–9, 94–7, 184 the state, ‘state in society’ approach 112 state welfare, and British Pakistani families 111, 123–7, 127–8 Steincke, K.K. 48–9 sterilization policies 4 in Denmark 48, 49 structural‑functionalist theories, of family change and gender‑role research 74–5 Stuart, Frank 91–2, 93 subordination, and migrant families 9 surplus women problem 94–5 Sweden 2, 65–81, 179 assimilation policies 159–62 Commission of Women’s Power 79 family policy 4, 65–81 breadwinner model 5, 68, 180 and declining birth rates 5, 67–9 and gender equality policies 7, 75–81 gender‑neutral discourse 65–6, 74–5, 77, 78 and gender‑role research 72–3, 76, 77–9 post‑war 70–2 unemployment 67

gender equality policies 75–81, 138, 146–7 government commission reports 66–7, 79–81 health care system 155, 156–7 and minority ethnic women 156–7, 162–74, 183 immigration policy 158 marriage reform 44 midwives 157, 162–74 migrants 3, 8 and changing immigration regimes 15, 158–62 multiculturalism and the welfare state 135 Muslim population 161–2 taxation laws, separate taxation of spouses 56 waged labour in 20 welfare state 10, 133 and changing immigration regimes 158–62 taxation in Britain and the male breadwinner model 5, 19, 29–31, 91 tax credits 25, 30–1 trade unions in Denmark 55 and the male breadwinner model 20–1 transnational marriages, and British Pakistani families 119–21 transnationalism, and British Pakistani families 111 Trost, Jan 75 Tsing, A.L. 125 UK legislation British Nationality Act (1948) 116 British Nationality Act (1981) 116 Commonwealth Immigrants Act (1962) 116, 118 Commonwealth Immigrants Act (1968) 116 Factory and Workshops Act (1901) 20 Immigration Act (1971) 116, 119

Index Immigration Act (1988) 121, 127 arried Women’s Property Acts 18, M 30, 51 National Assistance Act (1948) 27 Poor Law Act (1601) 94 unemployment in Britain Pakistanis and Bangladeshis 121 single women 93–4, 95 in Sweden 67, 159 unemployment benefits in Britain 28 and single women 93 United Nations, Convention on Human Rights (1948) 147–8 unmarried mothers 4, 6 in Britain 5–6, 23, 25, 26 and the male breadwinner model 87–8 and the post‑war welfare state 101–2, 103, 104, 105 and the Second World War 98–101 in Denmark 49–51 see also illegitimate children voting rights of women in Britain 17 in Denmark 42, 54 waged work and the male breadwinner model 19–20 and women in Denmark 51 see also employment; labour‑market participation


war spinsters in Britain 95–7 Webb, Beatrice 22 Webb, Sidney 34 welfare states Denmark 10, 58–9, 133, 137–50 inconsistencies and contradictions in 180–1 needs discourses in 66 service level/state level encounters 182–5 Sweden 10, 65, 133, 158–62 Werbner, Pnina 123 White, Florence 95 widowed mothers in Britain 17–18, 23, 91 and British Pakistani families 121–2 widowers in Britain 30 widows, and the Spinsters’ Pension Campaign 95, 96–7 Wikström, Hanna 161 Wilson, Amrit 118 woman‑friendly welfare state Scandinavian 133, 134–7, 144, 147, 149 and the Swedish health‑care system 156–7, 167–8 Women’s Co‑operative Guild 6, 28 Women’s Industrial Council 17 work-life balance 7, 34, 104 Working Tax Credit (WTC) 31 working‑class women in Britain 20–1 and equal pay 91–3, 95–6 in Denmark 51 and health care in Sweden 147