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What Has Gender Equality Got to Do with It? An Analysis of Policy Debates Surrounding Domestic Services in the Welfare States of Spain and Sweden
Umeå University, Sweden.
Complutense University of Madrid, Spain.
2010 (English)In: NORA: Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research, ISSN 0803-8740, E-ISSN 1502-394X, Vol. 18, no 3, 185-203 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

As more and more political institutions stress the significance of gender equality policies, it becomes important to investigate the different interpretations and meanings attached to the concept of gender equality in diverse policy contexts. In this article we are interested in problematizing visions of gender equality by studying the challenges that the growing amount of paid domestic work performed within European households poses for gender equality policies and practices in two European countries. The aim is to reveal normative assumptions and silences in relation to gender equality by comparing how “paid domestic work” has been framed in policy debates in Sweden and Spain. As welfare states, Sweden and Spain are generally considered to be very different, and in policies on care for children and the elderly the differences are perhaps most apparent. In both countries, however, paid domestic work in the home has become more and more common in the last two decades. The rise of paid domestic services in European households has been interpreted as due to the limitations or decline of welfare states, the ageing populations, and the increasing numbers of dual-earner families. These services are most often provided by women, predominantly of immigrant background, and involve a wide range of tasks, including care work. The phenomenon of an increasing sector of domestic (care) work poses a theoretical and methodological challenge to gender and welfare studies. This article argues that the analysis of debates surrounding domestic service in private households is a useful starting-point for an intersectional analysis by means of revealing the normative assumptions and marginalization embedded in gender equality policies. It uses a comparative frame analysis in combination with intersectional analysis to assess how interactions between gender, class, race, and sexuality have been articulated in the policy debates on domestic services in Spain and Sweden.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 18, no 3, 185-203 p.
Keyword [en]
Gender equality, domestic work, welfare states, policy analysis, Spain, Sweden
National Category
Gender Studies
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-99363DOI: 10.1080/08038740.2010.498326OAI: diva2:686786
Available from: 2014-01-13 Created: 2014-01-13 Last updated: 2016-05-31Bibliographically approved

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