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Supervisore/Tutore: LANGER, JOSEF
Cosupervisore: JOGAN, MACA
Issue Date: 30-May-2007
Abstract: Serena Fedel's dissertation is focused on gender issues, more precisely she has chosen to analyse the social conditions of employed women and the way they manage to reconcile the duties arising from their job with the ones connected with their role within the family. Geographically speaking she has decided to examine the above mentioned issues in the core of the so called Alps-Adriatic region, i.e. in the three bordering areas of Carinthia, Friuli Venezia Giulia and Slovenia. The aim of the dissertation consisted in analysing gender disparities and the social conditions of working women first in Austria, Italy and Slovenia and then also in of Carinthia and Friuli Venezia Giulia in order to find out which government has proved to be more sensitive to gender issues and has been more committed and successful in promoting a more equal society. Moreover tthe PhD candidate wanted to discover and point out which measures and initiatives have been more useful in order to develop gender equality and equal opportunities for all, so that such best practices could be introduced also in other areas in order to achieve the same goals. Carinthia, Friuli Venezia Giulia and Slovenia are neighbouring regions and to a foreign eye their landscapes must look similar, mainly because of the architectural legacy of a past when the three of them were all part of the Habsburg Empire. Indeed until the end of the First World War [although only until 1866 for the area of Friuli, when it was annexed to the Reign of Italy] these regions there ruled by the same laws and were inhabited by a very Catholic population. Notwithstanding the fact that in general women had to work hard at home as well as outside it in order to help their family make ends meet, the Catholic Church had been very successful in promoting the traditional patriarchal family model of the male breadwinner-housewife, according to which woman’s role was defined by the three “K’s” [Küche, Kindern, Kirche] kitchen, children and church. Originally such a model was meant for the bourgeois family of the 19th century, but soon it became valid for all the social strata. It prescribed that the husband’s role was to work for wage while the woman had to be the care-taker at home; if an employment was compatible with these tasks and/ or if the financial situation of the family required it, only then could she work outside home. The year 1918 marked the beginning of a dissimilar historical, social and economic development for the bordering regions of Carinthia, Friuli Venezia Giulia and Slovenia, even though some features – like the strong feeling of devotion to the Catholic religion by the majority of the people, a peripheral position within their states and in respect to the decisional centres, as well as some internalized attitudes, customs and traditions - represented some common resistant-to-change characteristics. Now less than one century afterwards, the three areas are again under the umbrella of a common institution, the European Union, which counts gender equality among its founding principles, it has introduced the approach of gender mainstreaming in all its policies and programmes, and it requires all the member states to do the same. Moreover the three bordering areas are more or less affected in the same way also by world-wide phenomena such as the globalisation process (of capitals, work, models of reference, cultural trends, etc.) and the process of individualization of society. Given the above mentioned common features as well as the dissimilar historical experiences and social developmental paths which have characterized Carinthia, Friuli Venezia Giulia and Slovenia in the 20th century, the objective of Serena Fedel’s dissertation was to investigate whether nowadays women’s social condition and their models of behaviour in these areas are still similar, or if they differ and how, and which strategies have been elaborated in order to tackle the problem of gender disparities and discriminations. Through such a comparison it was expected to devise and point out some “best practices” which might be applied in the future in other regions in order to promote equal opportunities and the development of a more equal society. The main hypothesis was that the traditional male-breadwinner-housewife family model had left a legacy in the way household duties are divided between men and women, as well as in the different way men and women are present in the labour force (sectors of employment, hierarchichal position and status and power connected with it, career chances reserved to them, etc.). As a consequence it was expected that the various aspects of gender inequality to be addressed would have been similar, and also that the policies and initiatives devised in order to tackle them would have presented common features. On the other hand it was also expected that Carinthia, Friuli Venezia Giulia and Slovenia would have presented partially different workforce situations and levels of development of care services, to be accounted for mainly by the dissimilar historical experiences through which they went. Given the stress laid by the socialist system (when Slovenia was part of the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia) on the principle of equality between the different republics (ethnicities) as well as between sexes, and considering that it demanded all of its citizens to work, Serena Fedel assumed that Sloven women should have fared better then their colleagues of Carinthia and Friuli Venezia Giulia. More precisely it was expected that in Slovenia women would have enjoyed more equality with men in the private and in the public sphere, and that the network of care services in support of working parents would have been better developed here than in the other two areas. It must be mentioned that another hypothesis was also taken into consideration, namely that the weight of the socialist legacy could have been partially blunted by the dynamics set off by the process of transition to the market economy - i.e. the distance taken from everything that belonged to the old system, and the process of re-catholization of the population. While the second hypothesis was not confirmed, the first was supported by the results of the analysis carried out on the basis of statistical data concerning the labour force and the network of public care services in Austria, Italy and Slovenia, as well as in Carinthia and Friuli Venezia Giulia. These data matched also with the results of opinion polls carried out in the areas of interest on the topics of gender equalities and inequalities, and about men’s and women’s roles within family and society, as well as with the results of a survey carried out by the very PhD candidate on 30 women of the Alps-Adriatic area. Coming now to present the structure of the dissertation in details, the first chapter deals with the main sociological theories about social inequalities, starting with the classical ones which adopted a hierarchical approach and focused mainly on people’s position within the economic field, and then moving to more recent standpoints, which adopted a horizontal approach in order to give account of the so called new inequalities. These are connected with characteristics such as one’s gender, age, race, ethnicity, kind of dwelling, etc, so they cannot be directly connected to or explained by only taking into consideration one’s profession, but nonetheless they affect people’s life chances and achievements substantially. In the second chapter the focus shifts to the topic of whether and how the main sociologists took into consideration the issue of gender inequalities, and what they wrote about woman’s nature and her role compared to man’s. Afterwards the principal feminist approaches to the study of gender issues and their main points are discussed, together with the theories that were developed in order to explain the phenomena of the gendered division of work and the existence of patriarchal relations in social structures, focusing most of all on the reasons why women are in a disadvantaged position in the labour market, and on the relationship between welfare policies and women’s situation. The third chapter is devoted to women’ social condition under the Habsburg monarchy and it is explained how the traditional male breadwinner-housewife model could assert itself and become the leading paradigm for the gendered division of work, notwithstanding the fact that women had always been working, at home as well as outside it. The key role played by the Catholic Church in the affirmation of the traditional patriarchal family model will be highlighted. The fourth chapter deals with the way woman’s condition has evolved over time in Europe and more precisely in Austria, Italy, Slovenia and the former Yugoslavia until our days. The diacronical development of the female employment rates together with the different kinds of welfare states that have characterized these nations constitute the main topic of the chapter; their analysis allows to come to outline which kind of gender relations have been fostered in the three states. Moreover it will be given account of the impact that the two phenomena of the process of globalization and of individualization of society have had on women’s situation, focussing specially on Western countries. In the fifth chapter the attention will focus on the regional situation: firstly it will be given account of the way the European Union has been dealing with the issue of gender equality, and the principles and policies developed to tackle gender inequalities; on a second step the analysis will concentrate on the regional level and more precisely on the three areas which may represent the heart of the forthcoming Alps-Adriatic region: Carinthia, Friuli Venezia Giulia and Slovenia. After having investigated the way women are present in the labour force there and the care services on which they can count - also contextualizing such data within their national frame, i.e. of Austria and Italy – the focus will move to the policies that have been developed by the regional governments in order to support families, to promote gender equalities and to counter gender discrimination, also describing the national and regional institutional bodies that deal with the issue and their involvement in initiatives co-financed by the European Union such as the program EQUAL. The goal of this part of the work is to detect some best practices which have been elaborated in a specific region and have proved to be effective in helping parents to carry out all their duties, and which may also be successfully adopted by other administrations. The hypothesis is that in the end such policies won’t be much dissimilar because of the common membership to the European Union, even if there will be also “national/ regional ways” to cope with the problems, given the fact that the three regions present partially different workforce structure. The sixth chapter is devoted to the presentation of the results of the survey carried out by Serena Fedel in the three bordering regions, thus providing first hand data. In order to compare the social conditions of employed women of Carinthia, Friuli Venezia Giulia and Slovenia the PhD candidate developed a questionnaire, translated it into German, Italian and Slovene, and used it to interview 30 women who have family (children) and are employed at a bank, and working in Klagenfurt, Ljubljana or Udine. All the interviews took place during the months of June and July 2006, thanks to the availability of the 30 women involved in the project and with the precious organizational help of the Human Resources Departments of the Austrian, Italian and Slovene sister-companies of the group. The questionnaire consisted of 32 questions, mostly open ones, through which Serena Fedel wanted to investigate women’s actual situation between family and work, their ideas about woman’s role in family and society (influenced more or less by their parents’ ideas on the same issue), their personal experience as far as unfair treatments suffered because of their sex, and their opinion about gender inequalities. Moreover, she wanted to get to know their assessment about the commitment of their regional and/or national government as far as fostering equal opportunities and helping parents to reconcile professional and family life and about the results that have actually been achieved in the field. One last point concerned their evaluation of the family- and/ or women-friendly attitudes of the bank in each region/nation. As for the hypothesis, again it was expected Slovene women to be the most emancipated, and the ones who enjoy more equal partnerships, where the division of work is not so engendered any more. Indeed it is so, and for a great deal the cultural legacy of socialism and its care institutions are to be held responsible for such a result, since they have gotten people used to taking for granted the fact that women work as men do, which may bring about a higher involvement of men into family life and household duties. It has to be said that also in Slovenia the labour force is still segregated by gender and young women seem to be discriminated against by employers upon hiring, owing to the fact that they may get pregnant and go on leave. Such a phenomenon, together with a still limited number of fathers who make use of the parental leave represent common features of the three analyzed areas and matters of concern of the institutions who deal with gender inequalities. In the conclusion of the dissertation, projects and initiative are pointed out, which have been developed in the analyzed areas and have been effective in promoting a more gender equal society, and in working towards the elimination or at least the reduction of gender discrimination and inequalities. They may represent the starting point of a debate about gender issues to take place within Carinthia, Friuli Venezia Giulia and Slovenia, and therefore in the forthcoming Alps-Adriatic region, which may aid in the development of new answers and solutions.
Description: 2005/2006
Keywords: gender issues
woman's condition
female employment
Alps-Adriatic region
Language: en
Type: Doctoral Thesis
NBN: urn:nbn:it:units-3941
Appears in Collections:Scienze politiche e sociali

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