Feminist Deconstruction and Reconstruction of the Welfare State
This paper focuses on feminist approaches to the welfare state, as one of the most influential, critical and emancipatory strands in current social science theory and societal practice. The introductory section discusses current debates about challenges facing the contemporary welfare state and its capacities to tackle them. By emphasising that there is not a single feminist theory of the welfare state, the authors analyse the basic assumptions of the welfare state from the perspective of multiple feminisms. The central part of the paper is structured around some of the most salient feminist topics regarding the welfare state: the female “dimension” of the welfare state, the effects of programmes and redistributive policies of the welfare state for women, as well as their political dimension, participation and mobilization. In this way the authors analyse dual positions of women – as beneficiaries, but also providers of welfare services and benefits, as formal and informal labourers, and finally as representatives of change in the welfare states. The methodological approach deployed is that of qualitative analysis.