Engendering the Welfare State: How Fa(i)r Are the Scandinavian Welfare States



Abstract. Welfare state or state social provision is perceived as interventions by the state in civil society to alter social forces, including male dominance.  A gender-neutral welfare state is not possible on the contrary gendered assumptions constitute the backbone of the welfare state regimes. Feminists have contributed to the literature immensely and categorization of welfare states from a gender-aware perspective has become a rich field that answers “what type of social security system with which assumptions, priorities and with what type of society provision?”  The paper discusses the reform agenda and feminist welfare state utopia, “the real utopia”, in which both men and women can perform as autonomous, free individuals in the public and private spheres. In this regard, the Scandinavian states are far ahead compared to the rest of the world in terms of reforms undertaken, yet the question remains: Is the Scandinavian case a blueprint for “the Real Utopia”? The paper aims to answer this question primarily by presenting feminist economists concerns on welfare state regulations, the suggested reform agenda, secondly by analyzing and evaluating Scandinavian model in a historical and conceptual context.

Keywords. Welfare state, Feminist economics, Scandinavian, Social policy, Parental leave.

JEL. B54, H53, H55, I38, J29.


Welfare state; Feminist economics; Scandinavian; Social policy; Parental leave.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1453/jest.v4i1.1229


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