(De)familialization and (De)genderization – Competing or Complementary Perspectives in Comparative Policy Analysis?

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This article critically engages with Saxonberg’s proposal (2013) to replace the (de)familialization perspective with the (de)genderization approach in comparative family policy/regime studies. It argues: (1) there is a need to refine the term ‘(de)familialization’ and to bring in the child’s and elderly’s perspective; (2) the ‘(de)familialization’ and ‘(de)genderization’ perspectives are mutually irreplaceable; and (3) there is a need to conceptualize the theoretical relationship between these two perspectives. The article further proposes to use the theoretical framework of Amartya Sen’s Capability Approach (CA) to reinterpret both analytical perspectives with a dual advantage using that approach would lend. It first conceptualizes the de-familializing and de-genderizing policies as ‘means’ designed to increase peoples’ ‘capabilities’ to achieve ‘valued functionings’ and not ultimate goals of policies that aim to change people’s ‘functionings’. Thus, it addresses the criticism of de-familialization and de-genderization as policy strategies that enforce certain, potentially controversial ideals of societal and familial relations. Second, by using crucial CA concepts, i.e. ‘means’, ‘capabilities’ and ‘functionings’, it refines the interpretation of policy-, regime- and outcome-oriented analyses (typologies). As a result, it clarifies the distinction between these types of analyses and highlights the advantages of both a policy approach and a redefined regime approach.