Paid work, unpaid work and welfare: towards a framework for studying welfare state variation
The study of welfare state variation proceeds apace. Much of the recent impetus in scholarship on the welfare state has come from gender-focused work. As a result, one has a choice of approaches to study the gender dimension of welfare states. But there has been little critical comment on the gender-focused work. Even though it has provided a critique of the conventional perspectives on the welfare state, feminist work has itself been subjected to little by way of review and appraisal. This is in some ways surprising for a perspective that is critical in origin. While one may speculate about the reasons for the absence of critique, some appraisal of feminist work on the welfare state is overdue. It is time to take stock. Towards this end, I intend in this chapter to undertake a review of some of the main approaches to understanding and studying variations in how welfare states treat and influence gender relations. This analysis sounds several key notes of a theoretical, conceptual and methodological nature.