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“Social Policy Convergence in Norway and Sweden: Does EU Membership Matter?”

Sorensen, Kerstin. (1999) “Social Policy Convergence in Norway and Sweden: Does EU Membership Matter?”. In: UNSPECIFIED, Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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    This paper analyzes social policy development in Norway and Sweden, focusing on “women-friendly” (Hernes 1987) public policies such as parental leave and child care. In the past decade, Norway has rapidly been catching up with Sweden (and other Nordic Countries) in these two policy areas. An investigation into Norway’s past ‘exceptionalism,’ and what made Norway turn around in the 1980s, as well as an examination of factors that account for Sweden’s faster development in these policy areas, will shed light on forces for change in welfare state patterns at the end of the twentieth century. The paper also briefly addresses the issue of European Union membership and what effect it may have on future social policy development. While drawing on the mainstream and feminist welfare state literature, as well as country case studies, the study focuses on the influence of women’s agency, or lack thereof, in policy development by examining social mobilization, political agenda setting and legislative outcomes in the two countries. The paper mainly covers the period after the Second World War, although the pre-war period is also briefly examined as this was a crucial time for social policy development. The study concludes that women’s agency, or lack thereof, helps explain the earlier divergence and subsequent convergence of the two countries in public child care provisions and parental leave policies. Although it is too early to know what the effects will be of European Union membership on ‘women-friendly’ policies, the likelihood of negative consequences is very possible.

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    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
    Subjects for non-EU documents: EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > social policy > general
    Countries > Sweden
    Countries > Norway
    EU policies and themes > EU institutions & developments > institutional development/policy > historical development of EC (pre-1986)
    EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > social policy > gender policy/equal opportunity
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Conference: European Union Studies Association (EUSA) > Biennial Conference > 1999 (6th), June 2-5, 1999
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 08 Nov 2006
    Page Range: p. 45
    Last Modified: 15 Feb 2011 17:22

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