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Gender equality and welfare politics in Scandinavia: The limits of political ambition? Edited by Kari MELBY, Anna-Birte RAVN and Christina CARLSSON WETTERBERG. Bristol, Policy Press, 2008. 244 pp. ISBN 978 1 84742 066 4 (hardcover).
After decades of consecration of the Nordic model of gender equality, this new book offers a challenging historical, sociological and political analysis and assessment of the model from its origins. It looks at its close links with societal developments, including marriage legislation in the nineteenth century, the emergence and development of the welfare state, the impact of transition from rural to industrial and post-industrial society, the emergence of and changes in the feminist movement, changing attitudes among political parties and within the labour movement towards gender equality, family policy and immigration--all of which have left an imprint on the changing meaning of gender equality, related welfare and childcare policies, and the balance between work and family.
The book originated from a five-year research project on gender equality and welfare politics carried out in the framework of the Welfare Research Programme run by the Nordic Council of Ministers. Its 14 contributors include academics from various disciplines--social sciences, sociology, social policy, psychology, gender studies, feminist research, political science, political sociology and history--from Denmark, Norway and Sweden, and two well-known welfare researchers from the United Kingdom who comment on the book in two "postscripts".
The book's aim is to analyse the meanings of gender that underpin policies for the achievement of gender equality in the Scandinavian welfare states--Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Its primary focus is on policy reforms and legislation concerned with the family, which are essential to understanding the welfare state. It looks at the similarities and differences between the three countries in regard to the relationship between equality and family policies. It notes from the outset that, while the ambition of gender equality has been more explicitly expressed and pursued in the Nordic countries than elsewhere in Europe, in practice, it was largely based on gender differences in the early twentieth century. It suggests that the Scandinavian …