Poslední úprava: Bc. Aneta Csikósová, DiS. (14.09.2023)
Family policy: concepts, reforms, and effects (JSM791)
This (online) course aims to advance the knowledge of students in the field of family policy. It introduces major family policy paradigms (concepts) prominent in family policy today, discusses reforms and the difficulties of their implementation, and incorporates practical seminars in which students themselves will simulate (through tax-benefit microsimulation model of the European Union EUROMOD) family policy changes and evaluate their effects.
By the end of this course, students should be able to:
i. Identify the actors and processes involved in family policy (making).
ii. Identify and critique policy and governance frameworks relevant to critical arenas of family policy regulations.
iii. Understand the role of social policy in social change.
Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:
· Verbal feedback of a formative nature during seminars;
· Written feedback of a formative nature based on individual assignments; and
· Written feedback of a summative nature based on final (collective) assignment.
· Continuous and final feedback will be provided in both verbal and written way. Students are free to provide feedback on all aspects of the course: literature, content, organisation as well as study load.
General design: In assessing Seminar participation, the following criteria will be taken into consideration:
· (I) Discussion of the required literature („individual“ assignments)
o Demonstration of preparation (i.e. done the reading and thought about it);
o Demonstration of understanding of or engagement with the topic;
o Raising relevant questions, points and challenges; and
o Listening actively and responding to others in a constructive fashion.
§ Based on weekly assignments (written, uploaded via Moodle, 0-25%) and compulsory class debate (0-15%)
· (II) Active participation in the practical (0-20%)
o Fulfilment of tasks
o Creativity and analytical skills.
· (III) Preparation of the final assignment – group presentation („collective“ assignment) - compulsory
o Preparation within the semester, results being presented at the 13th seminar in January (0-40%)
o Short report to be handed in the mid-term.
· Students need to fulfil at least 80% to pass the course.
Assessment I – individual assignments
Students are required to read compulsory weekly literature and prepare answers to set questions.
· Discussion of the comprehension questions in several (2-4) subgroups
o Need to find the super answer!
o What are the answered? Where can answers be found? à complete your answers.
o Do you have any questions regarding literature?
o Are you curious about any specific topic that can be covered later in the course?
Continuously: there should be some feedback about the literature: how easy/difficult is to comprehend the literature (= evaluation of academic texts/writing)
Contributing to discussions can be difficult for some students, especially those who have English as a Second Language (ESL), but there are different ways of contributing to discussion:
Listening actively is also part of participation. Students can show that they’re participating by looking interested, which means:
Advise to students who are not really talkative (“help for introverts”): to be shared with students
If you are someone who doesn’t find it easy to talk in Seminars, make it a personal goal to say something each week or ask a question. Don’t leave it too long before your voice is heard. The longer you leave it, the harder it will be. If there is something I can do to make it easier for you to contribute please let me know.
Assignment II – active participation
Students are expected to take part in the practical seminars of the course. They are expected to download the EUROMOD tool prior to the practical seminars and fulfil tasks related to microsimulation as instructed by the teacher – he should demonstrate a clear guide.
Students may/should ask questions relating to simulating policies and discuss their effects.
Assignment III – group presentation
Group presentation on preselected topics set by teacher.
Need to satisfy basic assessment criteria:
1. Set time limit,
2. Clear ad relevant research question,
Until seminar 8, teams have to prepare short report (400-500 words) where „state of the art“ should be clearly stated. Final results will be presented in the last session in January.
Reading guide and weekly course topics
Reading is split into required and additional (more in Moodle). Required reading is that which we expect you have completed prior to the seminar. Additional readings point you in the direction of extra related readings.
Weekly reading and course topics
Seminar 1: Introduction
In this introductory seminar, major family policy paradigms (concepts) prominent in family policy today will be discussed. Outline of the course and its requirements will be further described.
Reading for next week:
Knijn and Smit (2009) Investing, Facilitating, or Individualizing the Reconciliation of Work and Family Life: Three Paradigms and Ambivalent Policies.
Seminar 2: Dominant paradigms: critical reflection
After decades of promoting work–family reconciliation with the aim of advancing gender equality, European Union (EU) discourses around work and family have been reframed. This article distinguishes three currently paramount discourses: The social investment approach, the transitional labor market model, and the individual life-course model. Respectively, they propose investing in, facilitating, and individualizing the new social risks, including the resolution of tensions in the relationship between work and family life. Each has particular assumptions about risk-sharing, public and private responsibility, and the position of the individual vis-a`-vis the state and the community. These paradigms have been analyzed in relation to EU policies on the reconciliation of work and family life.
Reading for next week:
Nyby, Nygard, Autto, Kuisma (2017) Freedom of choice, gender equality, or employment promotion?
Seminar 3: Freedom of choice: freedom or trap?
The principle of freedom of choice in childcare matters has been a central element of Finnish family policy since the 1980s and is something that makes the country unique in an international comparison. One the one hand, this principle has been manifested as a legislated right for parents, notably mothers, to choose paid work supported by the use of public childcare. On the other hand, it has also given parents with children under three the right to stay at home with their children and to receive a child home care allowance during this period. This dualism has been widely popular among parents and has also been seen by most leading parties as something that is good for families. However, since the outbreak of the international financial crisis, this system has faced increasing criticism from some experts and politicians, which has made the principle of freedom of choice, and especially the child home care allowance/leave, susceptible to renegotiation. This article investigates how the principle of freedom of choice was politicized by eight leading parties during the Finnish parliamentary election campaign in 2015, through an analysis of election manifestos. The article analyse to what extent this principle was politicized, and by whom. Secondly, we study how the principle was framed. The findings show that the principle of freedom of choice was a rather politicized topic, creating a cleavage between conservative and leftist/liberal parties. Moreover, they indicate a renegotiation of this principle in favour of higher parental employment promotion and gender equality.
Reading for next week:
Engeli and Mazur (2018) Taking implementation seriously in assessing success: the politics of gender equality policy
Seminar 4: Implementation of family policies
This article makes the case for the investigation of the post-adoption stages of gender equality policies. We develop the Gender Equality Policy in Practice Approach, built on: (1) the mix of instruments for policy action; (2) the process of inclusive empowerment in practice; and (3) gender transformation as the ultimate outcome. For the gender and politics community, we demonstrate the importance of incorporating implementation in taking policy success seriously; for the policy studies community, we show how engaging with gender provides a compelling critical case to test general propositions about policy success and the intersectional complexity of the policy process.
Reading for next week:
Rubery (2015) Austerity and the future for gender equality in Europe
Seminar 5: Family policy in times of austerity
Austerity policies in Europe are disrupting and potentially reversing progress toward gender equality, a core principle of European policy from the mid-1990s onward. Not all EU gender-related policy has been aimed at promoting equality but instead has been associated with reforming the EU social model toward more neoliberal, flexible, and high employment labor markets. In this article, the author assesses these uses and potential abuses of the gender equality agenda in Europe, both before and after the crisis. While the crisis has not reversed the trend toward women’s integration into employment, women are facing cuts in employment conditions post crisis, affecting both the higher skilled in the public sector and the lower skilled, attributable to accelerated labor market deregulation. Moreover, the trend toward a new reproductive bargain has been halted with public care services being cut, particularly in member states where services are already limited.
Task for next week
Seminar 6: Politics of ideas
Ideas are increasingly recognized as major factors in politics. Ideas shape how we understand political problems, give definition to our goals and strategies, and are the currency we use to communicate about politics. They also provide interpretive frameworks that make us see some facts as important and others as less so. People are motivated by a myriad of ideas. These might include their perceived interests, but also their ideals, their pride, their fears, and so on. In addition, the ideas people share in their communications with those around them inform not only their belief in what they want, but what they deem to be appropriate, legitimate, and proper.
In this class debate, we will demonstrate the politics of ideas on the case of childcare guarantees for children up to age 1. Two groups will be distinguished: one arguing in favour of guarantees, the other strongly opposing it.
Reading for next week:
Evertsson, Jaspers, Moberg (2020) Parentalization of Same-Sex Couples: Family Formation and Leave Rights in Five Northern European Countries
Seminar 7: Family policy and LGBTQ+
Policies have important implications for how families are formed and how they live their lives. Family leave policies, among other things, enable parents to take job-protected leaves from work to care for a newly born or adopted child and/or to take time off from work when a child is ill. However, factors such as the length of any job-protected leave, the levels of reimbursement, and the number of eligible policy users vary among countries. The degree to which individuals can make use of family leave policies also varies and is partly dependent on the extent to which they fit the legally recognized version of a parent. The family policy system was designed to cater to the heteronormative family, i.e., a (preferably married) mother and father with joint children. As new family constellations emerge and are legally recognized, it is important to study whether and to what extent the policies designed for the heterosexual, nuclear family also encompass other families.
Seminar 8: Introduction to microsimulations
In this introductory seminar, we will outline basic terms used in microsimulation research, such as: forms of simulations, poverty and inequality, equivalization, or budget effects.
Seminar 9: Introduction to EUROMOD
This seminar will introduce students the tax-benefit microsimulation tool of the European Union – EUROMOD. Major features of this tool (e.g. Statistics Presenter), as well as functioning will be demonstrated in this seminar.
Seminar 10: Practical – simulating reforms I
Implementing a reform to the model of the Czech Republic; Using the Statistics Presenter to analyse its impact on the income distribution.
= The aim of this exercise is to learn how to create (add) a new reform system and how to use the Statistics Presenter – Baseline/Reform option – to analyse the impact on the income distribution of the reform.
Seminar 11: Practical – simulating reforms II
Reforming Child Allowance in Ireland
= The aim of this exercise is to introduce functions Elig and ArithOp. It also introduces some basic options such as renaming and deleting systems, search and replace and queries
Seminar 12: Practical – Hypothetical household tool
Comparing the setup of family policies across EU countries and family foms
= The aim of this exercise is to introduce Hypothetical Household Tool (HhoT). Students will model hypothetical family forms and simulate the effects of welfare state regulations. The results will be compared between the family forms to figure out who is more financially advantaged.
Seminar 13: Concluding seminar
The last seminar will be devoted to presentations and the overall evaluation of the seminar.
Evaluation form: self-evaluation – listening group is about to evaluate the presenter group based on evaluation criteria.
· Have presenters chosen and answered a clearly stated question?
· Comprehension of theoretical positions (Does the presentation demonstrate an understanding of and capacity for analysing different points of view?)
· Critical thinking (Does the presentation demonstrate a grasp of key concepts and their application?)
· Written expression (Is presentation clearly and concisely written?)
· Presentation (Spelling, grammar, referencing when relevant)