Political Dynamics of Family Policy Modernization in Post-Industrial Welfare States

Friday, July 14, 2017
Humanities LT G255 (University of Glasgow)
Silja Häusermann , Department of Political Science, University of Zurich
Christine Zollinger , University of Zurich
How can we explain the modernization of family policy in a post-industrial welfare state? We study this question by analyzing all family policy reform processes between the 1970s and 2013 in Germany. Germany is a typical case for a continental, conservative welfare state regime, where the traditional male breadwinner model of family policy has become increasingly ill-suited. Despite a clear functionalist pressure in favor of reforms encouraging female labor market participation and a strong new left, we observe a hybrid development of family policy. Traditional income replacement expansion coexists with the adoption of new social investment policies such as childcare or parental leave. We argue that this hybrid development of family policy can only be explained if we conceptualize the politics of reform in a multi-dimensional policy space. Indeed, income protection and social investment are two dimensions that generate new possibilities for both alliances and divides between political actors. Whereas the political Left has been the most consistent advocate of social investment policies over time, parties of the right (Christian democrats and market-liberals) have allied with the Left in favor of selective social investment reforms. However, those coalitions were only possible in exchange with an expansion of traditional income replacement policies.