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A Feminist View of Social Policy in Some East Asian Countries
- A Feminist View of Social Policy in Some East Asian Countries
- Chang P.
- Ewha Authors
- SCOPUS Author ID
- Issue Date
- Journal Title
- Asian Journal of Women's Studies
- vol. 2, pp. 7 - 37
- SSCI; SCOPUS; KCI
- This paper aims to review some existing literature on social policy in East Asian societies. The concept of the social policy has been constructed in the context of the Western experience of capitalist industrialization over a century. Social policy issues are gaining increasing attention throughout the world as part of rethinking "development" in the move toward globalization. The objective of development raises the question of how women can participate in the process equally and benefit equally from its fruit. The concept of social policy is constructed on the assumption of a division of labor based on gender. The assumptions which also underlie the thinking about the relationship between 'development' and women are that women's position will be automatically improved as a result of development, that employing women exacerbates employment problems, and that support for women's nonmothering roles leads to destruction of the family. This dualistic thinking of "development vs. women" obliterates women's contribution to development and welfare in society and thus hinders the achievement of development. Specifically, the claim regarding support for mothering role is analyzed as a part of the broader issue of the feminist goal of achieving equality with difference. Even if we followed the conservative argument that support for women should be concentrated on their mothering role, we are confronted with a major task of structural reform of society if real support is to be given to women. The formation of modern nation states has taken a relatively short span of time in East Asian countries. The concepts of democracy, civil society, citizenship and the role of government are still in the process of being defined and modified. Still more importantly, women's place in this discourse needs further elaboration. The crucial parts of the relatively short history of modern nation states coincided with major crises. These countries have only just embarked on building social welfare provisions. Since social policy in these countries is at an embryonic stage and relevant research has just started, the review in this study remains a sketchy description on the state of the art in Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan.
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