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Abstracts of dissertations

Failure Has No Fathers: The Formation of the Israeli Parental Leave for Fathers, Between Ideational and Material Factors
Perez-Vaisvidovsky, Nadav

John Gal, Mimi Ajzenstadt
Social Work
Hebrew University

Year of completion in progress

language of dissertation Hebrew

  • masculinty
  • fatherhood
  • social policy
  • gender
Areas of Research
  • Family Research
  • Poverty, Social Welfare and Social Policy
My dissertation analyses the formation process of the parental leave for fathers program in Israel. Parental leaves for fathers are the main tool used by policymakers across the industrialized world to encourage fathers to take an equal part in caring for their children. In Israel, However, usage of the program was negligible, but the program was neither discontinued nor amended.
In order to understand this course of event, I have examined the factors affecting the policymaking process. Data were collected from various sources Knesset minutes, interviews with central actors in the policymaking process, relevant correspondence between policymakers, and court decision on issues concerning parental leave for fathers. The data was analyzed on a two tier analysis method, developed for this research. On one level, data was analyzed to discover the evidential course of events and the organizational effects on policy making.
On the second level, texts were analyzed to discover policy frames held by the actors, in order to identify ideational effects on policymaking. Policy frames refer to the way policy makers and the public perceive a policy issue, and include answers to three questions: what is the problem that has to be dealt with, what is the appropriate solution to this problem, and what are the social values relevant to this issue.
The data analyzed uncovers a multifaceted struggle between the program's supporters and opposers, which have been fought both on the organizational level and on the ideational level. Opposers and supporters have consolidated into two distinct groups on both those levels. On the organizational level, there is a clear split between supporters and opposers according to organizational affiliation and interests. This organizational split also manifests on the ideational level, as actors adopt policy frames according to their institutional affiliation.
However, future developments of the program show that the relations between organizational and ideational factors are far from unidirectional. In later stages the ideational level becomes prominent, as policy frames become the main tool actors use in order to define their organizational interests, thus determining the course of policy develoment.
These findings lead to two main conclusions. First, data show that the majority of policy makers see women equality as a legitimate goal for legislation. However, the role of men and specifically, fathers in this struggle is disputed. Some see men as opponents, others as potential allies, but all fail to perceive men as gendered subjects, who share an interest in changing the gendered distribution of labor with women.
Second, I shed light on the complexity of the inter-relations between organizational and ideational factors in policymaking, showing how each receives prominence under differing conditions. Thus, a better understanding of the policymaking process is achieved.