Investment Behaviour of Women

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Social Politics 2012 Volume 19 Number 3

S I L K E STA A B

Maternalism, MaleBreadwinner Bias, and Market Reform: Historical Legacies and Current Reforms in Chilean Social Policy

Downloaded from http://sp.oxfordjournals.org/ at University of Madras on December 21, 2012

Abstract
Through an analysis of recent reforms in three policy areas in Chile—pensions, childcare services, and maternity/parental leave—the paper seeks to explore how equity-oriented reforms deal with the triple legacy of maternalism, male-breadwinner bias, and market reform. Recent studies of “new” social policies in Latin America have underlined the persistent strength of maternalist assumptions. Feminist research on new cash transfer programs, in particular, has tended to see more continuity than change in the gendered underpinnings of social policy. This paper suggests that once we broaden our field of vision to include other social programs and reforms, the ways in which contemporary social policy (re)defines women’s productive and reproductive roles, social rights, and obligations are more complex and contradictory. Indeed, while some policies take unpaid care by women for granted, others point to an increasing awareness of inequalities Fall 2012 Pages 299–332 doi:10.1093/sp/jxs010 # The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com

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Staab that shape women’s and men’s differential access to market income and public social benefits.

Over the last decade, there has been a veritable explosion of scholarship on Latin American social policy. In part this reflects the fact that—after decades of neglect—Latin American states have rediscovered social policy and scaled up their efforts to address the social fallout of liberalization. Indeed, while “Washington Consensus” reforms were mainly driven by the desire to cut costs and reduce the scope of the state, the late 1990s and 2000s have seen more coordinated state interventions to reduce poverty, inequality, and social exclusion. While not returning to post-war social protection schemes, countries in the region are experimenting with policies that break with the neoliberal notion of minimal safety nets (Barrientos et al. 2008; Molyneux 2008; Cortes 2009). ´ What does this “return of the state” mean for women’s social rights and welfare? It has been argued that in contrast to the gender blindness of neoliberal reforms, “new” social policies have been gender conscious (Bedford 2007). However, relatively little systematic research has been carried out on the gender dynamics of this new social agenda (Macdonald and Ruckert 2009). The existing literature seems to suggest that there is far more continuity than change in the gendered underpinnings of “new” social protection programs. Feminist research on conditional cash transfers (CCTs)—a key innovation associated with Post-Washington Consensus social policy in the region—has tended to stress the persistence of maternalism (e.g., Molyneux 2007; Bradshaw 2008; Tabbush 2009), a set of ideas and practices with a long and ambiguous history in the region. Yet there is more to Post-Washington Consensus social policy than CCTs. Several Latin American countries are experimenting with other care-related policies alongside cash transfer schemes— including the introduction of full-day schooling, the expansion of early childhood education and care (ECEC) services, maternity/ parental leave reforms, and in recent pension reforms, the introduction of child-rearing credits. While some of these programs take the unpaid care by women for granted, others point to an increasing awareness of gender inequalities that shape women’s and men’s differential access to labor market income and public social benefits. That these initiatives have received little scholarly attention leaves the impression that Latin American social policy is stuck on a maternalist track, when national and...
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