Diminished Rights: Danish Lone Mother Families in International Context

Diminished Rights: Danish Lone Mother Families in International Context

Diminished Rights: Danish Lone Mother Families in International Context

Diminished Rights: Danish Lone Mother Families in International Context


Denmark is one of the most progressive countries in terms of family support policies. This book, however, reveals a backdrop of diminished rights, inequalities and family violence in the lives of vulnerable lone mothers. If this is the case in Denmark, what is the situation in other countries, including the USA, the UK and other EU member states?Diminished rights is a unique qualitative study that documents the daily lives of vulnerable lone mothers and their children in Denmark. Loss of rights, gender and ethnic inequality, and family violence all emerge as key themes, with far-reaching international implications. The book:
- presents vivid case stories to illuminate the voices and experiences of the women involved in the study;
- identifies lone mothers as part of an emerging post-modern underclass in Denmark;
- highlights the disturbing prevalence of domestic violence that pervades many lone mothers' lives;
- raises questions around legal and child custody rights and the lack of redress in a patriarchal justice system.Policy and practice recommendations are made with wide-ranging applications for an international audience of policy makers, practitioners and academics.


“Always, always counting every penny.… the eternal and impossible
choice between milk and washing soap.” (Linda)

“My social worker regards me as an idiot – she does not understand
anything and does not see that I develop myself…. They do not
know anything about my life or my children … and they do not ask
me. So I only go to the social centre to get my social assistance,
although I am really in need of talking with somebody about all my
problems.” (Lone)

“As a lone mother you have to be strong and dare to confront the
system, otherwise you will get nothing…. Never accept a refusal in
the first round!” (Hanne)

Vulnerable lone mothers embedded in the Danish social welfare system – their voices, their experiences, their life struggles – form the heart of this book as we attempt to document their daily life struggles in the context of the Danish social and political system. By presenting qualitative case studies of lone mothers and examining their narratives of experience, we develop an analysis of welfare policies and practices that is at once localized, and embedded in a specific Danish context, yet reaches beyond with implications for both Europe and the United States.

Lone mothers and their children have historically been constituted as a ‘problem’ constituency – variously demonized, stigmatized, and marginalized. While lone mothers have fared better in countries such as Denmark, where universal family support policies are present, their lives nevertheless are qualitatively ‘less than’ their fellow citizens, and our study investigates both why and how. For if pulling up the blinds on Danish universalism reveals bleak and grim family worlds for many . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.