Conclusion: Theorising Childcare Decisions

  • Borbála Kovács


The concluding chapter revisits the theoretical model building on the hierarchies of care ideals concept, formulated in Chapter  4 and empirically illustrated in Chapters  5 7. The discussion then proceeds to outlining the main conceptual contributions of the volume, revisiting the empirical findings that underpin these. The chapter reiterates the various rationales that warrant the study of the organisation of childcare and the making of childcare decisions as objects of analysis in their own right. It also reiterates the analytical distinction between mothers’ work-care decisions and families’ childcare decisions. It restates the familial, negotiated character of childcare decisions and, not least, emphasises the argument that family policies matter in different ways and to different extents to different families. Finally, the chapter reiterates the crucial relevance of structural labour market conditions for post-partum maternal employment.


  1. Bettio, F., & Plantenga, J. (2004). Comparing care regimes in Europe. Feminist Economics, 10, 85–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Braun, A., Vincent, C., & Ball, S. (2008). ‘I’m so much more myself now, coming back to work’—Working class mothers, paid work and childcare. Journal of Education Policy, 23, 533–548. Scholar
  3. Debacker, M. (2008). Care strategies among high- and low-skilled mothers: A world of difference? Work, Employment & Society, 22, 527–545. Scholar
  4. Dodson, L. (2007). Wage-poor mothers and moral economy. Social Politics, 14, 258–280. Scholar
  5. Drobnič, S., & Guillén, A. M. (2011). Work-life balance in Europe: The role of job quality, work and welfare in Europe. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Duncan, S., & Edwards, R. (1999). Lone mothers, paid work, and gendered moral rationalities. Basingstoke: Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Duncan, S., Edwards, R., Reynolds, T., & Alldred, P. (2003). Motherhood, paid work and partnering: Values and theories. Work, Employment & Society, 17, 309–330. Scholar
  8. Duncan, S., Edwards, R., Reynolds, T., & Alldred, P. (2004). Mothers and child care: Policies, values and theories. Children & Society, 18, 254–265. Scholar
  9. Duvander, A.-Z., & Ellingsæter, A. L. (2016). Cash for childcare schemes in the Nordic welfare states: Diverse paths, diverse outcomes. European Societies, 18, 70–90. Scholar
  10. Ellingsæter, A. L., & Gulbrandsen, L. (2007). Closing the childcare gap: The interaction of childcare provision and mothers’ agency in Norway. Journal of Social Policy, 36, 649–669. Scholar
  11. Eurofound. (2017). Reactivate: Employment opportunities for economically inactive people. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.Google Scholar
  12. European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. (2007). Working conditions in the European Union: The gender perspective. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.Google Scholar
  13. Ferrarini, T. (2006). Families, states and labour markets: Institutions, causes and consequences of family policy in post-war welfare states. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fodor, E., Glass, C., Kawachi, J., & Popescu, L. (2002). Family policies and gender in Hungary, Poland, and Romania. Communist and Post-Communist Studies, Gender and the Experience of Poverty in Eastern Europe and Russia After 1989, 35, 475–490. Scholar
  15. Himmelweit, S., & Sigala, M. (2004). Choice and the relationship between identities and behaviour for mothers with pre-school children: Some implications for policy from a UK study. Journal of Social Policy, 33, 455–478. Scholar
  16. Hobson, B. (2013). Work-life balance: The agency and capabilities gap. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hochschild, A. R. (1990). The second shift: Working parents and the revolution at home. London: Piatkus.Google Scholar
  18. Holdsworth, C., & Morgan, D. H. J. (2005). Transitions in context: Leaving home, independence and adulthood. Maidenhead: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Inglot, T., Szikra, D., & Raţ, C. (2012). Reforming post-communist welfare states. Problems of Post-Communism, 59, 27–49. Scholar
  20. Kovács, B. (2015a). “The totality of caring”: Conceptualising childcare arrangements for empirical research. International Journal of Sociology and Social policy, 35, 699–719.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kovács, B. (2015b). Managing access to full-time public daycare and preschool services in Romania: Planfulness, cream-skimming and “interventions”. Journal of Eurasian Studies, 6, 6–16. Scholar
  22. Kremer, M. (2007). How welfare states care: Culture, gender and parenting in Europe. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lendvai, N., & Stubbs, P. (2009). Assemblages, translation, and intermediaries in Southeast Europe: Rethinking transnationalism and social policy. European Societies, 11, 673–695. Scholar
  24. Lewis, J. (2003). Developing early years childcare in england, 1997–2002: The choices for (working) mothers. Social Policy and Administration, 37(3), 219–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lewis, J. (Ed.). (2006). Children, changing families and welfare states. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  26. Morgan, D. H. J. (2011). Rethinking family practices, Palgrave Macmillan studies in family and intimate life. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. OECD. (2016). OECD Family Database—PF3.2: Enrolment in childcare and pre-school. OECD.Google Scholar
  28. Open Society Institute. (2007). Equal access to quality education for Roma. Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Serbia (Vol. 1) (Monitoring Report). Budapest: Open Society Institute.Google Scholar
  29. Pfau-Effinger, B. (2005). Welfare state policies and the development of care arrangements. European Societies, 7, 321–347. Scholar
  30. Pfau-Effinger, B., & Rostgaard, T. (2011). Care between work and welfare in European societies, work and welfare in Europe. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Popescu, L. (2006). Child care, family and state in post-socialist Romania. In M. Mesner & M. Wolfgruber (Eds.), The policies of reproduction at the turn of the 21st Century. Innsbruck: Studien Verlag.Google Scholar
  32. Popescu, R. (2015). The evolution of the financial support for family in Romania after the economic crisis. Journal of Community Positive Practices, 15, 93–119.Google Scholar
  33. Saxonberg, S. (2014). Gendering family policies in post-communist Europe: A historical-institutional analysis. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Skinner, C. (2005). Coordination points: A hidden factor in reconciling work and family life. Journal of Social Policy, 34, 99–119. Scholar
  35. Stefansen, K., & Farstad, G. R. (2010). Classed parental practices in a modern welfare state: Caring for the under threes in Norway. Critical Social Policy, 30, 120–141. Scholar
  36. Vandenbroeck, M., De Visscher, S., Van Nuffel, K., & Ferla, J. (2008). Mothers’ search for infant child care: The dynamic relationship between availability and desirability in a Continental European welfare state. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 23, 245–258. Scholar
  37. Vincent, C., & Ball, S. J. (2006). Childcare, choice and class practices: Middle class parents and their children. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aarhus UniversityAarhusDenmark

Personalised recommendations