Finnish and spanish families in converging Europe
Oinonen, Eriikka

Date: 2004
Description: 317 pag.
Abstract: The study explores the family and its changes during the 20th century and, particularly, between the 1960s and 1990s by comparing Finland and Spain within the West European context. The examination of the family arises from the following questions: (i) How, to what degree and why are family institutions in Europe different or similar? (ii) What are the roles and significance of the family in contemporary societies? (iii) How is the family defined and what social and cultural factors have affected the definitions in different countries?. The family is viewed as a social institution, with the interest lying in macro-level social changes and in the interrelationship between the family and other social institutions such as the welfare state, the labour market, politics, legislation and religion. The family as an institution has been examined from the viewpoints of family ideology and family practices. Family ideology has been studied by analysing how public and political institutions such as legislation and family policy define the family and how these definitions changed during the 20th century and, second, by looking at attitudes and values concerning intimate relations, the family and family practices. Family practices have been studied by analysing and comparing socio-demographic statistics between the 1960s and 1990s, the focus being on the formation of the first family. Furthermore, cross-national differences and similarities concerning patterns of family formation and prevailing family ideologies have been examined in association with legislation, social policies, the labour market, housing policies, education, gender relations, and religion. The study questions the stereotypical notions of the modern North and traditional South and their typical families and demonstrates that differences between Finnish (Northern) and Spanish (Southern) families have been greatly exaggerated and oversimplified. Fundamentally, the family ideologies are the same based on Christian tradition and, furthermore, the evolution of ideologies has moved in the same direction along with modernisation processes, albeit at a different pace. The study demonstrates that the variations are not due to fundamentally different conceptions of the family but to the historical, social and political developments of the countries. Analyses of demographic statistics and data on Finns and Spaniards values and attitudes indicate that demographic statistics suggest a crisis of The Family, for in neither of the countries does a fixed or typical family form exist and the growing plurality of family forms is a fact. On the other hand, the study also shows that The Family ­ the conjugal nuclear family - is very much alive and well as an ideological model and ideal. Looking at patterns of family formation and considering a variety of hypotheses usually presented as explaining the differences: contraceptive use, premarital cohabitation and women s labour market participation, the study shows that these reasons do not explain the differences between Finnish and Spanish patterns of first family formation. The study suggests that family-relevant public policies, housing policies and the labour market in particular are factors that better explain why Spaniards have fewer children and form families later than Finns even though the female employment rate is considerably lower and the use of modern contraceptives and premarital cohabitation is clearly more infrequent in Spain than in Finland. Analysis of the role of family formation in the process of attaining adult status shows that financial independence and self-reliance have taken over from marriage and parenthood as the principal markers of adulthood both in Finland and Spain. However, prolonged periods in education and erratic labour markets tend to complicate the attainment of such independence, reflected in the postponement or even rejection of family formation, especially marriage and parenthood. Yet, a de-familialised welfare state like the Finnish one eases gaining independence and family formation even with limited means, whereas a familistic welfare state like the Spanish one makes it more difficult to cut the cord to the parental home and to form new families. The study elaborates a complex and subtle model for explaining both the differences between countries and changes in the West European family institution in general. The model emphasises the role of public policies, housing policies, legislation and the labour market in particular in shaping the framework within which people in different countries make their decisions concerning family and family life. This comparative study is a dissertation comprised of a lengthy summarising article that links four empirical studies that were previously published as articles in international scientific journals and edited volumes.
Note: Background of INCASI Project H2020-MSCA-RISE-2015 GA 691004. WP1: Compilation
Rights: Tots els drets reservats
Language: Anglès.
Document: doctoralThesis
Subject: Family institution ; Social change ; Comparative research ; Perheinstituutio ; Muutos ; Vertaileva tutkimus

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 Record created 2017-01-09, last modified 2019-02-02

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