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Work-family balance : subtitle rethinking the rights and responsibilities of Canadian social citizenship Kershaw, Paul W.

Abstract

The work of T.H. Marshall teaches that citizenship is inadequately theorized if only its formal legal dimension is appreciated. Equality before the law does not guarantee all persons the ability to benefit from legal entitlements since unequal social and economic conditions limit for some the opportunities to exercise their civil and political liberties. Full citizenship status therefore rests critically on what Marshall termed citizenship's "social element," which is concerned with the socio-economic resources and opportunities that are preconditions for dignified inclusion. The development of the social element of citizenship in Canada following World War II is the subject of this dissertation. I argue that the central problem in fulfilling the promise of social citizenship is the failure of the welfare state to integrate adequately in institutional form citizenry aspirations and obligations associated with unpaid caregiving. The remedy to this problem rests on incorporating care into the meaning of citizenship by enhancing public commitments to facilitate work-family balance for citizens regardless of sex, race, class and other differences. New commitments to work-family balance would institutionalize an understanding of social inclusion that values the provision of care in one's network of domestic relations on par with participation in the marketplace and political arena. The necessary institutional reordering would ensure that public policy no longer distorts how unpaid caregiving is a civic virtue on which the sustainability of market and state practices relies by systemically disobliging men to care. Nor would policy continue to obfuscate the barriers to full community membership that the patriarchal division of care labour presents for diverse groups of women. The dissertation defends four key policy changes: (i) a revised parental leave system that would reserve some benefits exclusively for fathers; (ii) universal child care; (iii) revised employment standards that would enforce shorter full-time paid work norms; and (iv) a restructured Caregiver tax credit to replace the current Spousal credit. I argue that these changes can mitigate key sources of gender inequality, as well as partially address declining real male wages and the resultant rising poverty among families with young children, earnings inequality and persistent levels of high un(der)employment.

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