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National Context, Individual Characteristics and Attitudes on Mothers' Employment: A Comparative Analysis of Great Britain, Sweden and Norway

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This article examines how a general social process – the struggle toward gender equality – is reflected in the public opinion on mothers' employment in three different modern welfare states: Great Britain, Sweden and Norway. Viewing such attitudes as reponses to structural changes in women's relation to the labour market, the possible between- and within-country variations in these attitudes are hypothesized. The data are drawn from the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) and the results from a large cross-national survey are used. It is found that women are more positive than men, and that the younger, the better-educated and the less religious members of society are the most positive to mother's employment in all three countries. As for the between-country variations, it is found that the Swedes are the most positive and the Norwegians the most negative. It is suggested that Great Britain's longer history of industrialization and of urban married women's employment explains why the British people are more positive towards mothers' employment than Norwegians, despite the Norwegian welfare policies with their much stronger emphasis on supporting gender equality and mothers' employment.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2001-03-01

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