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Balancing acts: Policy frameworks and family care strategies in Norway

What is the practical and emotional reality of combining paid work and care in a highly developed universal welfare state with high levels of employment of women and strong institutional and ideological support for the dual earner–dual carer model? In this chapter we explore this question using Norway as a case, and drawing on qualitative interviews with both parents of young children and adults who have care responsibilities for older family members or relatives. Using the caringscapes/carescapes framework as sensitizing concepts, we discern two distinct contextual configurations or carescapes. For childcare, there is a standardised cultural script related to responsibilities and timing of transitions, which is supported by an extensive and integrated policy package. Caring for the elderly, in contrast, takes place in a weaker and more fragmented policy context. Caring for the elderly is not embedded in different policy-frameworks regarded as contributing to a higher aim, like gender equality or the best development of the next generation. Nevertheless, we also find that for parents of young children, living up to the new norm of full time work and institutionalization of childcare from an early age, raises new challenges and ambiguities.

Read the chapter:

Bjørnholt, Margunn; Stefansen, Kari;  Gashi, Liridona and Seeberg, Marie Louise (2017). Balancing acts: Policy frameworks and family care strategies in Norway. In Tomáš Sirovátka and Jana Válková (eds), Understanding Care Policies in Changing Times: Experiences and Lessons from the Czech Republic and Norway (pp. 161–184). Masaryk University Press/Centre for Studies of Democracy and Culture. Sociology Series. Volume No. 17. ISBN 978-80-7325-424-7.