Family, Women, and Employment in Central-Eastern Europe

Family, Women, and Employment in Central-Eastern Europe

Family, Women, and Employment in Central-Eastern Europe

Family, Women, and Employment in Central-Eastern Europe

Synopsis

This book is the result of a survey conducted among experts on the problems faced by families and women in Central-Eastern Europe. The 16 contributors discuss such issues as: current trends in family and women's predicaments; the similarities and differences between conditions in Central-Eastern European countries; changes in urban and rural family structure; women's educational level; married women's employment; women's political participation. Each contributor evaluates the chances for equal rights and opportunities for men and women, and indicates trends in social policy concerning the family and working women.

Excerpt

The political, economic, and social transition that altered social life and family and gender relationships after the events of 1989 in Central-Eastern Europe inspired the idea for this book. In the time span between the initial preparations for this volume and the completion of this task, it became obvious that the changes were less fundamental than expected. In some instances, the evolution has even reversed itself. The "new" governments have links to the previous Communist parties, the dominant forces are not basically different, and there is a continuation of institutions, organizations, and the ownership of industries.

Nevertheless, it is my belief that an inventory of compatible or conflicting trends in the family and women's predicaments will shed some light on confusing postsocialist developments. It will also help us to understand this evolution better. The previous system was based on hiding problems, instead of solving them. The postsocialist changes have brought about exaggerated expectations under conditions of overwhelming obstacles associated with budding democracies and the passage to a free market economy. A gap between expectations and reality became apparent when modifications were experienced as a departure from promises of progress, freedom, and prosperity. Contrary to anticipations, many elements of the previous system with its ideology still influence the social order and ways of thinking. Among the cardinal sources of Western misinterpretations in analyzing the post-1989 events is a belief in miraculous changes to be realized by the introduction of a free market and a free, democratic system. These anticipations still remain unrealized today.

The Solidarity movement, the Velvet Revolution in 1989, and the fall of the Berlin Wall created an initial euphoria. What has subsequently developed in this region is confusing and is seen by outsiders as an unexpected setback, laden with politically and economically risky experiments. Citizens of these countries, in a reaction to worsening economic conditions and to increased political instability, are clinging to state protection and social welfare, to upholding former rulers, and to maintaining subsidies and a state-run economy. The postsocialist period . . .

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