Murphy, Mary P
Maynooth University, Ireland, Ireland
This paper examines contemporary trends in restructuring labour markets and welfare states for gender equality and focuses on issues of gender and intersectionality as well as state regulation of equality. Using a comparative approach and analysis of four EU member states, it explores differences in the restructuring of welfare regimes across two different groups of low income women, lone parents and ‘partners’. In a context of the post crisis focus on low work intensity and the phenomena of jobless households in the EU, the paper examines the variegated approach to policy for working class mothers across Europe. Utilising Daly’s (2011) ‘dual earner gender specialised family’ regime and a typology based on push factors; patterns of individualisation and activation, and pull factors; childcare and family care, the paper attempts to examine whether or how member states differentiate policy for lone parents and partnered social welfare dependant women. While policy direction is ambiguous, we find policy is differentiated as much by the family status as by the class of these low income mothers. The analysis raises fundamental questions about intersectionality and the paper explores whether different life experiences might justify such intersectional differences in approaches to labour market, welfare and family policy. It examines the implications for equality between mothers and suggests children will experience different outcomes depending on the maternal family status. The paper concludes by asking, from a feminist sociologist perspective, whether there is an optimal policy option to better promote gender equality and improve the lives of both lone parents and partnered mothers.