Articles in press (accepted for publication) are made available online in this section pending the publication of the full issue. All available articles have been subjected to the Journal’s double-blind evaluation process.
These articles may be cited using the following information: Names, first names of author(s), title of article, year of publication
Policies and uses of formal childcare for young children in Switzerland: Disparities and inequalities
Xavier Conus, Alex Knoll
Research Framework: In Switzerland, the context of this study, as elsewhere, public policies that foster formal childcare for young children base themselves on two arguments: supporting families in achieving work/life balance and reducing educational inequalities among children.
Objectives: The objective of the study presented in this paper is to analyse the situation of formal childcare for young children in Switzerland, especially in view of tackling inequalities.
Methodology: Therefore, we have analysed the scientific publications and reports from institutional and government bodies on the topic. We have also explored the statistical databases of the Swiss Federal Statistical Office (OFS) and the OECD for the international and comparative dimensions.
Results: The results show that investments in the childcare system by the Swiss public authorities are quite small. The time spent by young children in formal childcare remains quite low compared to that of the neighboring countries, while the costs incurred by the families and the share of informal childcare arrangements remain high. In addition to this, Switzerland is characterised by substantial internal disparities with regard to the formal childcare supply, the funding of the childcare system, and the costs incurred by the families.
Conclusions: Under these circumstances, we conclude that today’s formal childcare policy for young children in Switzerland rather contributes to maintaining inequalities instead of reducing them.
Contribution: As regards prospects, we expand the perspective beyond the Swiss context by discussing how establishing a formal childcare policy that really tackles inequalities involves acting on the supply and the cost system together, without neglecting the cultural dimension of childcare.
The Quebec "Les enfants au cœur de nos choix" approach (family policy) – a bold but winning gamble
Renée B. Dandurand
Research Framework: After establishing an initial family policy (with pro-birth undertones) in 1988, Quebec changed direction in 1997 by enacting new child-focused measures, i.e. Les enfants au cœur de nos choix. By offering family allowances, low-cost school child care services and the promise of a better parental insurance plan, the new policy pursued three objectives: promoting early childhood development and equal opportunities, facilitating a work-family balance and ensuring increased aid to low-income families. In 1997 the policy surprised many, given the substantial budget deficit of the time. The government was shifting from a policy based on population growth to a generous socio-democratic strategy.
Objectives: After presenting the historical context that gave rise to the implementation of an explicit family policy in Quebec, this article explains the demographic, political and economic circumstances in play prior to the adoption of the new child-focused policy.
Methodology: The analysis of the Quebec family policy presented in this article is largely based on the author’s observations and her analysis of this policy in her career.
Results: The analysis reveals that change in family policy to be a bold gamble, one that has no equivalent in North America.
Conclusions: Close examination of various studies analyzing the impacts of the policy suggests that the gamble can be considered to have been a success, one that has led to significant advances for women.
Contribution: This article provides a socio-historical reflection on the Quebec family policy and explains the context – demographic, political and economic – in which it was made and during the 1990s, its transition from a natalist policy to a socio-democratic policy that collectivizes reproductive work with young children. In addition, it provides an interpretation of the meaning and scope of this policy.
The Evolution and the Transformation of Québec’s Family Policy since 1997
Sophie Mathieu, Diane-Gabrielle Tremblay
Research Framework: The consensus established around the exceptionalism of Quebec family policy conceals certain issues and challenges related to the accessibility and availability of support measures for families.
Objectives: Our objective is to propose a reflection on the universal character often attributed to Quebec family policy by documenting the evolution of the architecture of the three main measures of support to families since 1997, namely child care services, parental leave, and cash benefits.
Methodology: The analysis is based on a systematic review of archives, government documents, and scientific research on the evolution and transformation of Quebec family policy. The starting point for the analysis is the examination of the White Paper Nouvelles dispositions de la politique familiale: les enfants au cœur de nos choix.
Results: Despite its social democratic leanings, Quebec’s family policy is not universal as a whole and not all families are equal in the support they receive from the State. We show the historical existence of four childcare regimes, defined by the nature of the services being offered, their costs, and the possibility of having access to them. We also show that the architecture of the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan does not allow every parent to qualify to receive parental benefits. Finally, we show that while all families have received cash benefits since 2005, the amount of these benefits has varied by income.
Conclusions: Although Quebec offers a generous family policy, the province is not entirely immune to the characteristics of the Canadian liberal welfare regime.
Contribution: The article contributes to the reflection on the idea of Quebec having a universal family policy.
The "hard core" of family policy: analysis of the French case
Research Framework: The article offers an overall thinking on French family policy, its history, discourses, objectives and theoretical interpretations.
Objectives: It seeks to establish that a reading from its contemporary point of departure reveals that French family policy has put children, and not primarily the family, at the center of its concerns.
Methodology: A secondary analysis of major texts dealing with this family policy, as well as a synthesis of the author’s work, provide the methodological substrate adopted for this text. A shift in analytical focus and a renewed understanding of the wide range of socio-ideological debates and public policies support the overall approach.
Results: It emerges that the historical and discursive variation of French family policy is, more or less explicitly, based on one invariant: the child. This is because the child presides over a conception of the child as a good of the nation, at the level of the republican state that post-revolutionary France has adopted. The family thus acts by delegation, and the State takes its place in case of failure or need.
Conclusions: Contributing to the satisfaction of the needs of the child in his or her family is not only the initial objective of family policies but also their current objective.
Contribution: It is therefore to the re-reading of French family policy, in the light of the social valorization of the child proclaimed by many countries, that the article commits.
A Family Policy Aimed at a Better Family-Work Relationship. Challenges for Working Quebec Parents from a Low Socio-Economic Background
Research Framework: Quebec’s family policy, which is very focused on family-work balance, is based in particular on two measures, the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) and the public childcare network. These measures would, among others, promote job retention of parents, women, and men. However, this policy is implemented at a time when the labor market is becoming more precarious, particularly for people already marginalized in employment, such as women or people with a low level of education.
Objectives: This article proposes to better understand the working arrangements between spouses of modest socio-economic background, starting from the story of the people concerned and then highlighting the issues underlying the family-work relationship of these parents.
Methodology: The analyses presented are based on 30 qualitative interviews of a comprehensive type carried out with Quebec parents in heterosexual couples on low incomes and without a university degree (17 women and 13 men).
Results: The narratives collected account for the difficulties in combining family and work when the parents are working atypical and low-paid jobs. The QPIP and reduced contribution childcare services offered in Quebec are therefore not very useful for these parents.
Conclusions: The types of employment held as well as the sexual division of labor play an important role in the « choices » made by these parents regarding the use of the measures offered. Gender relations, particularly in the context of financial precariousness, hinder the achievement of the objectives of family policy concerning the family-work relationship while mothers are restricted in their access to employment.
Contribution: By highlighting the difficulties of family-work relationship of working parent couples from a low socio-economic background, this article opens the discussion on the needs of parents who are generally little taken into account.
Family solidarities questioned by gender. Ethnographic cases in a village of southern Chiapas (Mexico)
Research Framework: This paper documents the diversity of family solidarities experienced by men and women, coffee producers in the region of Soconusco, in southern Chiapas (Mexico). They belong to a generation born around 1950 who lived two distinct historical moments. First, socialization structured around the agrarian production and the ejido, which imposed some obligations and built specific gender identities. Then, since the 90s, in a new step of her family life course, this generation faces de-agrarianization process of the labor market and state intervention.
Objectives: The central question that guided the writing of this paper is: how family solidarities can explain the diversity of men and women trajectories in this village?
Methodology: The investigation is based on a one-year ethnographic survey done in El Paraíso village and, to be more precise, on eight family genealogies and about twenty life stories. The paper looks into two ethnographic cases belonging to this qualitative database.
Results: The article reveals the weight of gender in the family solidarities because men and women do not inherit the same resources and obligations within families. Family solidarity takes different forms and outlines according to the resources (financial, relational, land) and to the sociodemographic characteristics of everyone (as the gender or the place among siblings).
Conclusions: The observation of the different forms of family solidarity has allowed us to understand the male and female ways to make family and the issues in terms of gender identity in this village of Mexico’s southern border. Family solidarities allow dealing with the new labour markets and the new forms of public intervention in rural areas in a differentiated and unequal way.
Contribution: The article has three interests. It reveals the voices of a generation who now are struggling to live exclusively from agricultural labour, while their parents benefited from land reform and industrial capitalism advantageous for small-scale peasant agriculture. The analysis also shows how family solidarity is deeply determined by the gender system. Finally, the text is useful beyond this specific research, for the general reflection on mutual family assistance and the methodological tools for appreciate it.