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Policy responses to partnered women outside the labour market:\ud What can Britain learn from Australia and Denmark?\ud

By Jo Ingold

Abstract

This thesis compares policies in Australia and Denmark relevant to assisting women from workless couples into work, with a focus on policy learning for Britain. The research uses case studies comprising of documentary analysis and 52 elite interviews with policy actors to create a contextual analysis based on the notion of ‘hard’ policy learning (Dolowitz, 2009). It also develops the idea of ‘policy as translation’ (Lendvai and Stubbs, 2007) rather than as ‘transfer’. In so doing, it examines the cultural and political underpinnings of the policy developments in each of the countries and how these impact on the translatability of policies and programmes to Britain.\ud \ud The concept of ‘welfare recalibration’ (Ferrera and Hemerijck, 2003) and its four sub-dimensions (functional, distributive, normative, politico-institutional) is used both as a theoretical basis, as well as a framework for the analysis. It is argued that the normative aspects underpin policy change in the other sub-dimensions. Policies for partnered women in both Australia and Britain have recalibrated their access to social assistance, informed by a normative shift in conceptualising them as ‘workers’ rather than as ‘wives/partners’ or ‘mothers’ (Sainsbury, 1996). In Denmark policies have been restructured in response to perceived challenges resulting from immigration.\ud \ud The thesis argues that policy change, as well as policy learning, for partnered women in all three countries is incremental. It suggests that activation for partnered women as a reflection of welfare recalibration wrongly assumes that the labour market and families have similarly adjusted and that childcare provision in Britain is a missing core foundation for activation for this group, reflective of stalled functional and normative recalibration. The analysis also argues for the incorporation of welfare recalibration as a framework for assessing the possibility of policy learning, as well as in considering whether policy translation has taken place.\u

Publisher: Sociological Studies (Sheffield)
Year: 2010
OAI identifier: oai:etheses.whiterose.ac.uk:1239

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