Diminished Rights: Danish Lone Mother Families in International Context

By Valerie Polakow; Therese Halskov et al. | Go to book overview

ONE
Introduction: Lone motherhood
in international context

“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

-1-

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