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Parenting and parenting support in Germany and Sweden: Convergence and persistent dissimilarities

  • Åsa Lundqvist
  • Ilona Ostner
Publishing year: 2017
Language: English
Pages: 313-339
Publication/Series: Journal of Family Research
Volume: 11
Document type: Journal article

Abstract english

Parenting support constitutes a long-established part of both the Swedish and the German portfolio of public social services. It originated in the 1920s in Germany, the 1930s in Sweden. Support measures and underlying philosophies have steadily changed in both countries, thereafter. The 1990s saw a new ‘turn to parenting’ and also new measures in Sweden and Germany. In this article, we ask how parenting has become recognized and re-defined as a ‘problem’ to which various actors have pinned competing policy solutions. First, we suggest that similar macro-social factors have contributed to the renewed interest in parenting and parenting support. Second, we maintain that several elements of recent parenting support represent a profound change in the political articulation of how to support parents in their childrearing, moving both countries further in the same direction. Actors do not operate in a vacuum, though. Timing matters, too. Therefore, third, we assume dissimilarities in the focusing events (Kingdon), which typically support problem recognition and definition in a country, and also path dependent differences in the design and implementation of new measures. The overarching objective of our article is to explore the puzzle of how apparently converging trends in German and Swedish family and parenting support polices can be understood in the light of the historical and institutional differences between the two countries.


  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)


Bild på Åsa Lundqvist av Emma Lord.
E-mail: asa [dot] lundqvist [at] soc [dot] lu [dot] se



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