Since the publication, in 1990, by Esping-Andersen the 'Three worlds of welfare capitalism', there has been a heated debate over his typology of welfare states. Although his work is criticised by many, some of the most prominent criticism has come from feminist scholars. Esping-Andersen has been accused of being gender blind. His models are based on the situation of average workers, who mostly happen to be men. Women are present in the models as long as they stay on the labour market. This suggests that the criteria of decommodification, stratification and relations between state, market and family are not gender neutral. Appreciating the analytical potential of the 'three worlds' typology, feminists argue for its reformulation in a way that allows the consideration of gender differences. They stress the need to build an analytical framework that reflects the differences in caring responsibilities between men and women, and show the significance of household production for the welfare of the family. This article discusses the main issues involved in the above debate in three sections. The first presents the Esping-Andersen's models with particular attention paid to the criteria used to construct them. The next section is devoted to fields of feminist critique. The final part presents an overview of the feminists work on constructing models, which are gender sensitive.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.