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The italian journal of social policies

last issue

Gender and welfare

Italy in a comparative perspective

Description

The monographic section of this number of RPS explores various aspects of the Italian welfare state, revealing and reflecting on its gender connotations and implications. This it does through three blocks of contributions, each of which concentrates on one of the crucial questions raised by the debate on gender and welfare. The first block concerns the question of the right to a paid job as a channel of independence for women (and men), which needs above all pro-conciliation policies if it is to be achieved. The second block of contributions considers the question of the right to care, whether given or received, for both women and men. The third block, on the right to autonomy and diversity, shifts the focus to the question of conciliation and care to discuss the risks of poverty (whose gender structure is connected with, but not limited to, the question of conciliation and care), and to concentrate on another phase in the life cycle and other types of family. The Attualità section tackles the question of alternating school and work, while the Debate concentrates on Fsw and the relation between wellbeing and policy.

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THEME: Gender and Social Rights

Solving the Work-Life Balance in a Familistic Context: interrupting or Continuing Work for Migrant Women who Become Parents in I
This quali-quantitative study analyses if and how migrant women interrupt work after their child is born, the role of education and area of origin, and their narratives. Data from Indagine campionaria sulle nascite show that, in the Italian «familism by default» context, migrant mothers have higher risk of exclusion from the labour market than their native counterparts, especially if they come from Africa. This is mostly due to the fact that migrant women are more likely to have informal or precarious jobs before pregnancy. Furthermore, because of dequalification and non-transferability of skills obtained abroad, the effect of the level of education appears to be weaker than for natives. The analysis of qualitative cross-sectional and longitudinal interviews shows how structural and institutional constraints intertwine with cultural models, favouring processes of doing gender. Migrants’ work-family practices respond to ideals of intensive mothering, but they are also shaped by the socio-economic resources of migratory circuits, and by the limited accessibility of child-care services.
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Early Childhood Education and Care Reform and Childcare Work: A Residual or a Universal Dimension?
The Early Childhood Education and Care (Ecec) Act approved in Italy in 2017 aimed both to expand service access and coverage and to increase service quality in the overall supply system, both public and private. The reform may have very significant consequences not only on female employment but also on childcare and educational work by improving its quality. The article critically discusses the potential and limitations of the reform. In particular, it highlights that the central State and the municipalities, which are both called on to play a pivotal role in the governance of the new Ecec integrated service system, suffer from structural weaknesses and, in the case of childcare municipal services, also from ongoing changes and difficulties that have been aggravated by the austerity policies of the last ten years. These critical factors could strongly reduce or even invalidate the ability of the reform to shift childcare services from their traditional residual dimension in Italian welfare to a more universal one.
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Gender Inequalities in the Workplaces: The Impact of the Bonus Infanzia and Paternity Leave in Italy
Gender inequalities in the labour market are still significant in most advanced economies. The unequal impact that childbirth has on men and women seems to be one of the main reasons behind this persistence. Family policies can encourage the female labour supply and facilitate the reconciliation of work and family life. Increasing childcare services and guaranteeing paid, job-protected periods of leave are effective instruments to boost the female labour supply, supporting households in childcare expenses and organization as women go back to work, and protecting mothers’ jobs as they stay home after childbirth. The introduction of specific periods of leave for fathers can stimulate a better distribution of family care tasks, promoting equal sharing of parenting responsibilities within the household. Mandatory paternity leave was introduced in Italy in 2012; full coverage was not attained, and it was not successful in encouraging fathers to take more optional parental leave, which is mostly used by mothers.
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The Gender Dimension in Welfare analyses and Reform Proposals
This article discusses how the contribution of gender analyses has been incorporated into the main proposals for a new welfare state, which have been prompted by the imperative of addressing the new social risks in a context that is also marked by changes in women’s behaviour and by increasing demands for gender equality. Two such proposals in particular are being scrutinized, the transitional labour markets and the social investment ones. The author points out that, though different, both these approaches are more focused on supporting women’s participation in the labour market than equal opportunities in the labour market and a rebalancing of the gender division of unpaid family work. Furthermore, both, and particularly the social investment approach, under-estimate the value of care work as well as the risks for women of this underestimation, together with a persistent gender asymmetry in its allocation. The basic income proposal overcomes the limits of an exclusively paid-work oriented approach, but does not fully avoid the risk of perpetuating gender asymmetries.
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Parental Leave and Paternity: Ambivalent Policies between Italy and Europe
Act no. 53/2000 was a break in the institutional discourse surrounding parenthood in Italy. For the first time, in fact, the lawinvolved fathers in care duties and issues regarding the work-life balancey. However, this Act was also a missed opportunity. On one side, the European context strongly promoted the implementation of parental leave in European countries, but at the same time encouraged policies of social investment, whose main objective is to make all citizens employable in the labour market, partly by freeing them from care duties and implicitly devaluing care work. On the other side, the Italian cultural and institutional context implemented the Directive of the Eu following the traditional mothercentered familialism of the Italian Welfare State. From Act no. 53/2000 to the Act of Stability of 2018, men have been involved in care only marginally. Some measures are formulated in gender-neutral terms or explicitly target women, while others recognize men as having autonomous rights, as in the case of compulsory paternity leave, but always assigning them a secondary role in care work.
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Family Involvement and Policies for Long-Term Care: Defamilialization Model in Europe
This article examines the relationship between features of long-term care (Ltc) systems and the private resources devoted to the care of the older adult population in fourteen Eu countries. The context of the analysis is the recent wave of reform in the Eu area, in response to an aging population and the problems of welfare-state sustainability, which have also been exacerbated by the recent economic crisis. The goal of the analysis is to identify typologies of Ltc systems according to the degree of defamilialization of the care sector, both in relation to direct provision of informal care by family members and indirect purchasing services in the care market. The cluster analysis result confirms the crucial role of the institutional dimensions identified in determining the degree of family involvement in care. Moreover, we found that the more private economic resources are required, the more informal care is provided to older adults, highlighting the compensatory and replacement effect of the family on the reduction of public responsibility.
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Gender and Anti-Poverty Policies. Reflections on Measuring the Minimum Income
Against an increase in poverty in the last 10 years, caused by the financial crisis and worsened by the sovereign-debt crisis in 2011/12, the article applies a gender perspective to the study of the main features of poverty in Italy, which show both persistence and change, and then to the minimum-income policies promoted in the country in recent years (Sia and Rei). Though information is scarce regarding the implementation of policies based on the combination of cash benefits and projects of active inclusion, the analysis underlines peculiarities, limits and potential developments of the existing provisions, stressing the relevance of local policies for the study and improvement of the fight against poverty.
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A Gay- and Gender-Friendly Italian Social Welfare
In Italy backwardness, gaps in the law, prejudice, and the catholic hierarchies’ oppressive interference in the Italian legislative and political process are damaging to people, sacrificing rights and self-determination. That is why it is really urgent for non-standard sexual orientations and gender identities to be positively accepted as individuals and as a community. The recent Italian law on Civil Unions is insufficient and discriminating as it does not envisage marriage for same-sex couples, but anyhow it is an exceptional step forward to the equality in the Italian welfare state. In Italy parenthood is not yet accepted for gay, lesbian and trans families, the law on transsexualism is outdated and seriously inadequate, and there is a serious lack of social services, family counselling and social assistance provided by professional staff with an expert understanding of the loneliness and the social and health problems of gays, lesbians and trans people.
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TOPICAL QUESTION: The Italian way of school-work alternation

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Becoming «Dual»? Structure and Reforms of the Vet Systems in Italy and Germany
The article analyses the institutional configuration of vocational education and training systems (Vet) and apprenticeship in Italy and Germany. For Italy, the focus is on recent interventions aimed at establishing, by means of school-work alternance schemes and apprenticeship, a «dual system» that will effectively combine education and employment. The article goes on to describe the main features of Vet and of the dual system of apprenticeship in Germany. The two countries and their respective forms of «dual» education are compared by stressing differences in the institutional structures and the resulting policy developments, in order to clarify the different underlying logics.
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School-work Alternance as a Policy to Increase Employability?
This research deals with the question of transitioning between school and the workplace in the Marche, using a set of qualitative interviews with teachers from 15 institutes from every province, two focus groups with fourth- or fifth-year students of all the various courses of study in these institutes, and an analysis of the literature and quantitative and qualitative data produced on school-work alternance by university, regional and national research bodies. The obligation of a high number of hours for all students has forced the schools to activate many training projects of strikingly varied success and effectiveness. Variations in local conditions and the social inequality in the social capital present in the family or induced by the socio-economic contexts may be reflected in an accentuated inequality of opportunity in these training projects too. Without any institutional countermeasures there is the risk of the state educational system failing in one of its institutional aims – the reduction of inequality of opportunity for social and economic growth.
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The Italian Version of School-Work Alternance has Failed. Considerations on a New Model of Integration
What are the reasons for the failure of the Italian model of school-work alternance as defined in Act of Parliament 107 of 2015? What aspects of the nation’s production structure should be analysed to reform the practice of alternance? Perhaps it should be given another name, such as «school-work integration», without any obligatory role for it, and replacing it with the dual practice that is already operative in other parts of Europe. The production system should accept that alternance is not and cannot be understood as a trial period. Nor can the period of alternance be financed by the families, creating new fractures, new disparities and new inequalities. However, now is the moment to tackle how theoretical teaching can be combined with actual work experience in the educational systems without throwing out the baby with the bathwater. For work to become an intrinsic part of an educational syllabus, it must be able to test the student’s intelligence. Its social utility must be visible, and it must increase the cognitive capacities of those studying.
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DEBATE: Beyond Gdp: Fsw and the relation between wellbeing and policy

Data Politics: Measuring Fair and Sustainable Wellbeing
This article deals with the Fsw 2017 Report, bringing out the gap between the political adoption of the indicators to complement and correct Gdp and the measurement of fair and sustainable wellbeing, which provides a much more complete and detailed picture. Nevertheless, it too has certain obvious lacunae that cannot be ignored, and the 2017 Report has partly tried to obviate them by revising some indictors and extending the set of indicators on sustainable development in line with the 2030 Agenda approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations. The article also underlines how the attempt to flank Gdp with an alternative measurement has both strong and week points, which we need to bear in mind.
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Wellbeing, Demographics and the Future
This article considers the relation between wellbeing and policies, bringing out the benefits deriving from shared objectives and objective measurements of wellbeing as an approach for improving the general living conditions of citizens. On this view of things, Fsw is not just a list of aspects and indicators, but a new lens for looking at social policies from a carefully adjusted perspective. The article also brings out, however, that wellbeing policies should be integrated directly and become explicitly functional to the model of development and the role of the new generations. In line with this perspective, we also need to rethink the role of welfare, which should become a tool enabling people to actively construct their path in life from youth onwards, and to make choices today that lead to greater (individual and collective) wellbeing tomorrow.
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In-depth analysis

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Promoting Activation and Inclusion through Housing. The Experience of a Self-Building Project
Housing policies are crucial for tackling the housing deprivation of the impoverished lower-middle class and for promoting social inclusion. The initiatives of «associated and assisted self-building» supported by some local authorities are one of the most interesting of the innovative programmes, as they directly involve would-be homeowners. If adequately supported and managed, self-building may be a means of empowerment and contribute to the creation of social capital in the community. In this perspective, the paper presents a recent self-building project, targeted at both Italian and non-Eu citizens, which has been carried out in the Marche region.
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News

RPS 1 2018

RPS 1 2018