Gender Content Of Social Policy Changes In East Central Europe Since 1989

Djoric, Gorana (2000). Gender Content Of Social Policy Changes In East Central Europe Since 1989. MPhil thesis The Open University.



This paper focuses on the implications of social policy changes in East/Central Europe since 1989, for gender relations. The system of social protection of the socialist period will be compared with the institutions that have been introduced approximately after 1989, in order to replace it, relative to expected gender relations’ outcomes. In order to allow for a comparison of the two essentially different systems, ‘social policy’ is defined broadly as a political organisation of economy that establishes the rules of the distribution of economic resources between different groups of people, or, in other words, a configuration of the family, the market and the state in providing people's well-being.

A connection between social policy and gender relations is not immediately obvious and could be perceived in various ways. Hence, the first chapter of the paper attempts to theoretically establish the connection in question, so that a claim could be made that different social policies will result in different gender relations. The second situates the social policy transformation in CEE and its potential effects on gender relations within the broader framework of the transformation of centrally planned into market regulated economy. The third chapter analyses the development of a social policy proper, as an institutional supplement to the labour market which compensates for "social risks" ex post, as is known in the West. The last chapter is an attempt in gender analysis of social policy transformation, focusing mainly on the expected gender effects of the transformation. The social policy implications for gender relations will be assessed by considering 1) a particular division of labour between the sexes (via publicly organised and financed child care (or the lack of it), for example), promoted by the changes involved; and 2) a particular (possibly different) treatment of ‘male’ and ‘female’ labour (usually unpaid caring work) for the purposes of social entitlement.

The analysis is mainly based on secondary sources, prevalently on the Czech Republic and Hungary. An attempt is made to systematise the evidence collected on different countries, but more in a complementary manner than with a comparison between the countries in mind. Notwithstanding the differences between the Central/Eastern European countries, the region is treated here as prevalently homogeneous, at least in its pre-1989 characteristics, so that the paper could focus on the gender implications of institutional changes across the point in time.

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