"Let us help them to raise their children into good citizens": The lone-parent families act and the wages of care-giving in Israel

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Abstract

Based on the assumption that the construction of meaning in the process of policy-making is crucial if we wish to understand the gender outcomes of social policy, this article analyzes the parliamentary debates that preceded and accompanied the legislation of the Israeli Mono-Parental Families Act, 1992. It focuses on the enunciation of gender roles and relations in the discourses that framed and justified the Act as well as on how the capacity to establish and maintain autonomous households was constructed and legitimized. Two sets of discourses emerged during the deliberations over the Act, each of which endeavored to interpret the needs, identities, and capacities for action among lone-parent families. The article shows how a specific version of the capacity to establish and maintain autonomous householdsthat of caregivers who happen to be workerswas privileged in the policy paradigm underlying the Act. The alternative visionthat of workers with caregiving responsibilitieswas marginalized and eventually disregarded in the final wording and implementation of the Act. The article concludes with an analysis of the socio-political processes that underlie the prioritization of the version, which was ultimately expressed in the implementation of the Act. It is suggested that a state-level collective identity project shaped by demographic concerns and geo-political factors and changes in the political economy combined to define the needs, identities, and capacities for action of lone-parent families in terms of a model of motherhood in which care-giving trumped paid work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-81
Number of pages30
JournalSocial Politics
Volume18
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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