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Welfare state development and child care policies, a comparative analysis of France, Canada, and the United States

by White, Linda Ann

Abstract (Summary)
"Welfare State Development and Child Care Policies: A Comparative Andysis of France, Canada,and the United States." By Linda Ann White for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, 1998, Department of Political Science, University of Toronto. This thesis analyzes the historical and contemporary development of child care policies and programs in France, Canada, and the United States. It explains why France developed a more generous system of child care than most European and North Amencan countries. It also explains why Canada, considered to have a more generous welfare state than the United States, has much lower levels of child care than other western industrialized countries, including the United States. The explanation offered Links the Iiterature on histoncal institutionalism and ideas, and focuses on the role of institutionaikedactors as carriers of ideas. The thesis argues that the higher levels of child care programs in France and the United States results fiom the greater Stutionalization of maternalist ideas. Matemalism connotes the exaltation of motherhood and the home, the promotion of " motherhood " values such as care and numirance, and the application of those values ui govemment, the community, and the workplace. The institutionalization of matemalist ideas legitirnized state action in developing policies for women and children, and provided the basis for the later expansion of child care policies. Their lack of institutionalization in Canada, in tuni,explains why it has meagre child care programs compared to the United States. The findings highlight an important dichotomy between policy goal and policy effect in the three cases. Policy expansion in the United States and France occurred not within noms of women's equality but within nom of matemalism. The process of institutionalidon of ideas and policies proved to be both narrowing and transformative. While the original policies did not necessarily support women, the eff├ęct of irnplementhg rnaternalist-based policies was to provide the normative basis upon which later prograrns such as child care could be built This thesis demonstrates the powerful role of ideas and nom inpolicy development, as well as the important interaction of ideas, institutions, and actors. It also refutes the feminist argument that the presence of matemalism, rather than its absence, is to blame for low levels of child care. It shows that matemalism provides a better normative base upon which to buiM child care policies than liberal feminism. iii
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Source Type:Master's Thesis

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Date of Publication:01/01/1998

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