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Social Policies and Cultural Change

As a lot of research indicates individuals' behavior is guided by the characteristics of the context which surrounds them. Social conventions, normative expectations, legal regulations, policy incentives play a role when individuals make important decisions in their lives, such as becoming parents, giving up work, caring for others, volunteering, marrying or divorcing.


Societies are developing - sometimes slower, sometimes faster. Often, social policies are designed to meet demands in the population, and they are designed to support behavior which is also culturally seen as appropriate. But sometimes, social norms and social policies stand at odds, for instance, when welfare regimes and political frameworks are lagging behind cultural change, or when rapid developments collide with traditional worldviews.

By looking at longer-term trends in such behaviors, by using social reforms, societal crises, or rapid cultural change as "quasi-natural experiments" I try to disentangle cultural and policy influence on individuals' behavior. Such research is at the core of sociological ideas, the idea of agency and structure, the idea of norms and institutions, the micro and the macro-level and their interlinkages (or: the famous Coleman-bathtub).

Currently I am working on a paper which investigates how regional norms and changes in the childcare infrastructure influence grandparents childcare and labour market participation. This paper is the result of my research stay at KU Leuven (Host: Prof. Wim van Oorschot). I also work on a paper together with Anna-Theresa Saile where we look at longer term trends in couples' division of labour and use a parental leave reform as an exogenous shock. Both papers are currently under review


Klaus Preisner, Franz Neuberger, Ariane Bertogg, Julia Schaub. “Closing the Happiness Gap. The Decline of Gendered Parenthood Norms and the Increase in Parental Life Satisfaction”. Gender & Society, 34(1): 31-55.

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