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Gender Issues Network:

Cultural histories of gender and the welfare state

30 January 1998

The differing ‘Western’ welfare regimes are often explained by economic and political factors. The Finnish Institute is hosting a one-day workshop to examine the extent to which the differences can be accounted for by factors which deserve more exposure, namely, cultural factors. The workshop aims to explore new perspectives in comparative cultural research into gender and the welfare state, and also hopes to promote new contacts between Finnish and British academics (particularly junior academics and research students).

The relationship between men and women and the welfare state differs between European countries, not least between Finland and the UK. It is worth considering whether -- and if so how -- this reflects dissimilarities in our customary culture-specific ways of conceiving gender and gender relations. We take these unstated assumptions for granted and thus create our own cultural or mental conceptions of gender.

As well as exploring new ways of approaching gender and the welfare state in comparative research, the workshop also plans to discuss the development of other joint projects involving Finland and the UK.


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