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Kvinnorörelsen och efterkrigsplaneringen : statsfeminism i svensk arbetsmarknadspolitik under och kort efter andra världskriget

by Almgren, Nina

Abstract (Summary)
This thesis has analysed the relations among the women’s movement, the state and the labour market policy during and shortly after the Second World War and to what extent this period can be characterised as a formative phase as regards gender relations. The aim has been to study women’s strategic actions in order to influence the Swedish Government’s labour market policy in the period from 1939 to 1947. The thesis shows the conflicts of interest that manifested themselves between Statens arbetsmarknadskommission (SAK, ‘the National Swedish Labour Market Commission’) and its advisory women’s group, experts on women’s issues, concerning the planning and utilisation of female labour. SAK thought that the work of the experts on female issues should only focus on the short-term labour problems caused by the national crisis situation, while the experts on women’s issues were of the opinion that they should also work with long-term labour-market issues for women. These different ways of thinking and understanding the problem originated in different views on women’s work.The experts on women’s issues wanted to strengthen women’s position on the labour market by abolishing the wage differences between the genders, breaking the gender segregation in education, and broadening the occupational choices of girls. They had three strategies for achieving this: a strategy of professionalisation, a strategy of change, and a strategy of state feminism. The strategy of professionalisation was aimed at raising the value of traditional female work, in terms of both status and wages. The strategy of change was aimed at creating new opportunities for women to leave typical low-wage jobs and gain access to better paid jobs in male-dominated areas. The strategy of state feminism was aimed at paving the way for women in new and expanding occupational areas beside the traditional male occupations.Can the period during and shortly after the war be characterised as a formative phase of the issue of gender relations? It is evident that this period did not involve a revolution of the societal gender order. The idea of women as reserve labour did not disappear. The post-war planners considered that, in the transition to peace, the women who had replaced men who were called up should be redeployed or retrained for employment in household work, in hotels, restaurants and cafés, in shops and in health care. In spite of the great shortage of labour in the post-war period, leading politicians and economists stuck to old ways of thinking. A clear indication on the part of the Government was that the women’s movement’s demand for long-term planning in order to utilise female labour was turned down.One important difference from the First World War was that the Government produced peace plans for women’s work during the Second World War. The period also led to ideological and institutional consequences that could be the beginning of a change of the societal gender order. From her central position in Kommissionen för ekonomisk efterkrigsplanering (‘the Commission for economic post-war planning’), Karin Kock could see to it that women’s demands for greater occupational mobility and a loosening up of the gender division of labour had an impact on the post-war planning of the war years. The experiences of women in male industries in the Second World War, both in Sweden and abroad, showed to some extent that it was possible to change the gender division of labour.The modern welfare state also came to correspond to a great extent to the state feminist strategy of the experts on women’s issues. With the historical formation of the welfare state a new type of occupational groups developed, the so-called welfare state professionals.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Umeå universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:women s work post war planning state feminism movement the second world labour market policy welfare gender strategies citizenship formative phase

ISBN:

Date of Publication:04/21/2006

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