Between two worlds of father politics

USA or Sweden?

Author: Michael Rush

Between ‘two worlds’ of father politics represents the USA and Sweden as two ends on an international continuum in ways of thinking about fatherhood. The ‘two worlds’ model locates the decline of patriarchal male-breadwinning fatherhood as a core concern of comparative welfare state and gender studies. It offers historical accounts of the development of ‘father-friendly’ parental leave policies in Sweden and child support enforcement policies in the USA. The book brings together, major debates from child development psychology, ethology, sociology, gender studies and comparative social policy. In this way, the book synthesizes a wide breadth of comparative and inter-disciplinary analysis into a new typology or model for interpreting welfare regime approaches to contemporary fatherhood. It provides comparative analysis for students, scholars and social policy makers in the United States and Nordic countries, the UK, Ireland, Japan, China and the European Union. Overall, the book locates concepts of fatherhood, the decline of patriarchy, shared parenting and the de-commodification of parents as critical to ongoing debates about individualisation, internationalisation and the dawn of post-patriarchal welfare arrangements for the 21st century.

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‘In this book Michael Rush guides us through the academic, political and public debate on family-related policy in not just the US and Sweden but also the UK, Ireland, the EU, China and Japan. He brings together research on parental leave, responsibilities of non-resident parents and ideas of the centrality of marriage, resulting in a multi-dimensional understanding of the concept of fatherhood and its development. By contrasting the US and Swedish policy development he makes two distinctly different pathways very clear. The comprehensive descriptions of how ideas of fatherhood emerge, and the comparisons between countries are valuable contributions. Rush points out what is specific to the Swedish family policy and how this has influenced family policy development in especially the EU. He also facilitates the understanding of how the various dimensions of Swedish policy interact and strengthen the idea of gender equal parenthood. This is a very stimulating book to read.'
Ann-Zofie Duvander, Associate Professor of Sociology and Demography at Stockholm University

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