Social welfare and family policies in Central-Eastern European countries
Reference: Szelewa, Dorota (2021), ‘Social Welfare and family policies in Central-Eastern European countries‘, The Routledge Handbook of Gender in Central-Eastern Europe and Eurasia, Edited by Katalin Fábián, Janet Elise Johnson, Mara Lazda. London: Routledge.
This chapter examines the most important debates and research trends in relation to social welfare and family policies in Central-Eastern European (CEE) countries, with an emphasis on how these policies shaped gender relations in the region. This scholarship reveals how important regional differences in construction of gender roles and corresponding welfare policies in postcommunism were present already in the pre-World War I period. Moreover, the period of state socialism was internally differentiated: while the regime’s goal was to mobilize the female labor force immediately after World War II, following 1956, welfare policies were aimed at shifting gender roles to emphasize women’s maternal role. After the communist system collapsed, the research on gender and welfare policies in the region was at first engaged in characterizing the common trend of welfare policy refamilialization and then started to define and explain differences between CEE. New concepts, such as “degenderization,” started to play a role in placing gender at the center of analysis. The chapter concludes with remarks on how recent anti-feminist trends in public debates again inspire welfare policies aimed at retraditionalization and regenderization of work and care.