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Gender and East Asian Welfare States: from Confucianism to Gender Equality

Pascall, Gillian; Sung, Sirin

Authors

Gillian Pascall gillian.pascall@nottingham.ac.uk

Sirin Sung



Abstract

How can we understand the gender logic underpinning the welfare states/systems of East Asia? Does the comparative literature, which has largely been concerned with western
Welfare states, whether in The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism (Esping-Andersen 1990), or in gender-based analysis of the male breadwinner model (Lewis 1992, 2001,
2006), have anything to offer in understanding the gender assumptions underpinning East Asian welfare states? Are the welfare systems of East Asian countries distinctive, with
Confucian assumptions hidden beneath the surface commitment to gender equality? We will use the (mainly western) comparative literature, but argue that Confucian influences
remain important, with strong assumptions of family, market and voluntary sector responsibility rather than state responsibility, strong expectations of women’s obligations,
without compensating rights, a hierarchy of gender and age, and a highly distinctive, vertical family structure, in which women are subject to parents-in-law. In rapidly
changing economies, these social characteristics are changing too. But they still put powerful pressures on women to conform to expectations about care, while weakening
their rights to security and support. Nowhere do welfare states’ promises bring gender equality in practice. Even in Scandinavian countries women earn less, care more, and
have less power than men. We shall compare East Asian countries (Japan, Korea, Taiwan where possible) with some Western ones, to argue that some major comparative data (e.g. OECD) show the extreme situation of women in these countries. Some fine new qualitative studies give us a close insight into the experience of mothers, including lone
and married mothers, which help us to understand how far the gender assumptions of welfare states are from Scandinavia’s dual earner model. There are signs of change in
society as well as in economy, and room for optimism that women’s involvement in social movements and academic enquiry may be challenging Confucian gender hierarchies.

Citation

Pascall, G., & Sung, S. Gender and East Asian Welfare States: from Confucianism to Gender Equality

Conference Name Fourth Annual East Asian Social Policy Research Network (EASP)
End Date Oct 21, 2007
Deposit Date Feb 11, 2008
Publicly Available Date Nov 30, -0001
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Public URL http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/827
Related Public URLs http://www.welfareasia.org/
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingh.../end_user_agreement.pdf

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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/end_user_agreement.pdf





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