"How can we explain the differences in work-family policies in the different welfare states?”
Morgan's approach is policy centered. Her point of departure is gendered policies. In this book Kimberly Morgan with a historical comparative approach tries to explain how “both religious practice and religious conflict are key in the formation of the welfare state”. Her explanatory framework emphasizes the interplay among religion as a political force, gender and familial ideologies, the constellation of political parties and the nature of partisan competition, women's movements, policy legacies, and social structural changes (nota Diane Salinsbury). As stressed out in the introduction: “this book examines and explain patterns of work-family policies in Sweden, France, the Netherlands and the United States, giving particular attention to child care policy but also looking at parental leave and flexible work-time arrangements. The analysis focuses on how religion has influenced on this dimension of the welfare state. Although much research emphasized the role of left parties and powerful unions in driving the welfare state expansion, policies on child care a mothers’ employment are not only about material redistribution and labour markets; they also reflect ideologies about gender and family.”
As Morgan emphasize, gender differences in social policies are explained by ideologies (“more specifically the programs of the welfare state promoting mothers’ employment requires accepting that mothers should work when their children are small and that the state should influence family care arrangements”), by the power of women’s movements, by the pressures generated by social structural changes on the welfare state.
Given that organized religion is an important source of ideology, it is to say that religion has had a fundamental role in the shaping of the relation between state, family and gender. In fact organized religions “have sought to maintain their position as the dominant arbiters of community values and morality with giving a great attention over child and family affairs.” An example of religious influence on public welfare policies is the maintenance of the status quo perpetuated by the Christian democracy’s party.
The temporal dimension of the welfare state is another important theme. In fact, the politics of mother’s employment can be analyzed by individuating three different time periods with different economic and social characteristics:
- The late nineteenth and early twentieth century;
- The golden age of the welfare state between 1945 and 1975 (intense conflict over religion as states were expanding their role in children and family policies);
- The period of the welfare state’s crisis from mid 1970s on.
During the first period the states were expanding their “reach into social affairs including the familial sphere and in particular EDUCATION”(mass education, woman no more without scholar background). During the second time span the states...