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Has the restructuring of gender relations and employment led to a restructuring of European Societies?

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Introduction

Has the restructuring of gender relations and employment led to a restructuring of European Societies? Over the last number of years we have seen changes in the structure of gender relations in European States. Has this restructuring had continual effects on other aspects of European Societies or has it been an isolated incident? This is what is in question here. In order to assess as to whether the restructuring of gender relations and employment has led to a restructuring of European societies we must look at what is meant by gender relations and how it has changed. The first aspect of gender relations that we can look at is the theories of gender difference. It is important for us to go back a number of years in order to see how these theories have developed and transformed into gender differences, as we know them today. Patriarchy is one of the first and most prominent theories of gender differences. This theory is based on the historical belief that men are better then women. This can be seen in the way that institutions and organisations were established and in the way society initially only allowed men to vote, etc. Patriarchy was also attributed to the biological differences between men and women. It was believed that women's maternal instinct led them to be weak and caring and could be overpowered by men, while men were aggressive and dominant and so would fight for their positions and to keep them. ...read more.

Middle

Examples of some countries who employ this approach to gender equality are Ireland and Great Britain. These societies have and understanding of what gender equality is and understand that it must be addressed, but do not have an extensive move towards complete gender equality. The final theory of gender equality and also most extensive theory is equal opportunities and outcomes in both the public and private sphere. This refers to the attempts to ensure equality of opportunities and outcomes in the public sphere, but also in the private sphere. This can mean provisions for childcare, parental leave, etc. allowing both men and women to compete with as much equal footing as possible. This theory of gender equality is most closely associated with the neo-Corporatist approach to gender relations. In this respect the state assumes the role of creating gender equality and makes a number of extensive provisions to allow for equal opportunities and outcomes in almost all areas of society though the resources of the welfare states. Examples of countries where this approach can be found are in the Scandinavian countries such as Norway, Denmark and Sweden. In her article 'Dual Breadwinners between State and Market', Anne Lise Ellingstaeter makes reference to these three countries and their welfare states. She explains, "in general there are several models for modifying the tensions between employment and childcare. Three policy elements are central: (1) time to care, (2) money for care, and (3) care services." (Lise Ellingstaeter, 1999: 41) She then goes on to explain in some detail how the welfare state of these countries have restructured gender relations and employment by providing better care facilities, etc. ...read more.

Conclusion

This largely depends on the states attitude toward gender equality and treatment, and what has been seen is that different European countries take different approaches to this, and so while European Societies are restructuring they are doing so at a different pace. It not only depends on the states attitude, however, but also those of employers. While women may have so far shown themselves to be equally able as men in a number of jobs there are still number of obstacles in their way at management level, i.e. the 'Glass Ceiling'. Another aspect of these societies that can be said to be changing is in the family life. Previously it was strongly felt that men went out and worked and that women stayed at home and watched over the children. The increased numbers of women working has changed this approach and now many children are influenced by members outside of the family and by school. It has yet to be seen how this will affect society in the future, but what may be seen is a reduction of the emphasis that is placed on the family. And so while it can be said that there the restructuring of gender relations and employment has led to a restructuring of European Societies, there is still a way to go before we seen complete gender equality. As well as this there are also a number of changes to European Societies, which will inevitably come about due to this restructuring, and how this will be seen will be interesting to assess. ...read more.

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