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Equal terms? Manifestations of inequality in parents’ contacts with the Social Insurance Agency about parental leave

Research project The project investigates how mothers and fathers work to understand and administrate their parental benefit, as well as how they are treated by the Social Insurance Agency.

This project advances knowledge about manifestations of gender in/equality inherent to institutional practice in the area of parental leave. The project investigates how mothers and fathers work to understand and administrate their parental benefit, and how the Social Insurance Agency in practice treats mothers and fathers. By breaking new ground in this area, the project will facilitate the development of more effective equality-promoting communicative strategies for social insurance.

Project overview

Project period

2018-01-01 2021-12-31

Funding

Forte

Research subject

Sociology

Project description

This project advances knowledge about manifestations of gender inequality inherent to institutional practice in the area of parental leave. Although it has been recognized that parents' decisions regarding division of parental leave take place within a framework of regulations and institutional routines, the way parents navigate the economic and moral incentives of state policies has received little attention in research, and the situated application of regulations and routines has previously not been studied. In effect, little is known about the practices by which parents actively work to understand, plan, apply for and flexibly adjust their use of parental leave. Similarly, knowledge is lacking regarding how social insurance officers might be encouraging or discouraging more equal sharing of leave in their encounters with parents as part of these processes. The purpose of this project is to contribute robust knowledge on these issues. The study will investigate the prevalence and functions of gendered practices in parents' encounters with the Social Insurance Agency in a large amount of naturally occurring customer service interactions about parental leave. These interactions occur over telephone, e-mail, and in social media. The study will investigate what actually happens in these encounters, how gender matters for the extent, content, and form of parents' contacts, and if mothers and fathers are treated equally by case officers. In contributing ground-breaking knowledge in this area, the project will facilitate the development of more effective equality-promoting communicative strategies in the area of social insurance. Through research-based role-play training with practitioners, the project will encourage more equal treatment of parents and, in extension, contribute to increased gender equality in parents' uptake of parental leave.