The majority of welfare regimes in EU-Countries are organized in such a way that most care-work is managed unpaid in families, mainly by women within the traditional housewife arrangement or, if it´s affordable, outside of the family in nursing homes. However, nursing homes, as an alternative, are often rejected by families because the care often has the reputation of being unbearable and ´unemotional´ care and working conditions. The organization of welfare systems in EU-Countries relies on traditional divisions of labor between the genders and relieves the public sector of demands for care. This kind of care arrangement is increasingly unsustainable because of fundamental societal changes, such as: the decline of family networks and the transformation of the traditional nuclear family, as well as the demographic changes and the emergence of new social risks. These profound societal transformations are increasing the pressure on welfare states to develop viable policies for the regulation of care and care work. Continue reading
It is proverbial that gender is universal and never changes. “Boys will be boys”, we mutter, when our boy gets into a fight at school. There is a famous opera – premiered in Vienna, as it happens – entitled Così fan tutte, which is equivalent to saying “Women are all like that”.
This traditional common sense about gender, we can now see, had social consequences. It pre-empted questioning about exactly why little Johnny was in a fight, or whether Dorabella really is like that, i.e. faithless and stupid. That lack of questioning preserved – as Mozart’s opera does in its finale – the patriarchal order, with all its exclusions and violences that the opera does not mention.
Patriarchal ideologies in different societies confronted feminist activism, when claims for gender justice emerged a century or more ago around the colonial world – from thinkers like Kartini, He-Yin Zhen, Huda Sharawi – as well as in the imperial powers. One of the major requirements for gender justice, therefore, was an intellectual challenge to the concept of gender hierarchy as fixed, natural and universal. Continue reading