Unpaid Work, Power and the Context of Gendered European Welfare Regimes
Ruth Abramowski, University of Salzburg
Over recent decades, processes towards gender equality are raising in most European counties. Implementations of gender-egalitarian family policies are increasingly en vogue. Nevertheless, comparing European welfare regimes also includes the dimension of unpaid work – especially since this aspect has not been taken into account for a long time in the welfare state research. The relationship between unpaid work and welfare is important for a “gendered Europe”. Despite the “Scandinavian dream” of absolutist gender equality, we observe a striking discrepancy between egalitarian attitudes and traditional behaviors, when comparing the division of housework in Europe. In all European countries the division of unpaid work is more or less traditional, however differences can be observed for five regimes: social democratic, post-socialist, liberal, conservative and latin rim regimes.
Rethinking the concept of Europe as a pluralistic “gendered Europe”, including the dimension of unpaid work and offering a new theoretical typology of power is the aim, this paper seeks to address. The assumption is that the division of household tasks is influenced by power relations, whereby power is regarded as a latent, dispositive, complex and social phenomenon, which makes a multidimensional approach in the sense of Amartya Sens “functionings and capabilities” and in the context of gendered European welfare regimes unavoidable.
Using data from the first wave of the Generations and Gender Survey and comparing European countries, the ‘Task-Participation-Index’ reveals little country-specific differences (the ICC suggests that about 6.1% of the total variability in TPI lies between countries); however, in all regimes women do more housework than men. According to the results from a two-level multilevel regression, especially non-traditional domestic labour is more accepted, the higher the political empowerment for women.