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Family politics and the construction of citizenship in Europe


The project analyses how different family rights regimes influence the meaning of citizenship in relation to gender, sexuality and reproduction. The analysis concentrates on state policies towards family and family welfare entitlements in periods of transition from authoritarian to democratic rule. The research focus is on the Polish experience since 1989, compared with two earlier cases of democratic transition: post fascist Italy and post-Franco Spain. The regulation of women's reproductive rights (abortion, contraception and reproductive health) and the treatment of birth outside wedlock are examined. In periods of fundamental political breakthroughs the rights of individuals are reconsidered and ri-defined through constitutional and other major legislative changes.

The definition of families' prerogatives represents an important aspect of this process, and has long-term implications. Contemporary debates on the treatment of `new forms of family life show the difficulty of amending long standing definitions of what constitute a family. Different treatments are applied throughout Europe to different forms of domestic arrangements and sexual relationships and different legal statuses are granted to individuals depending on their sexuality, life style, and country of residence. This creates inherently unequal rights in relation to family life throughout the EU, despite the existence of common tendencies at social level and the potentially unifying influence exercised by European institutions.

The project contributes to the research programme on Citizenship and Governance, particularly in relation to the emergence of new forms of citizenship and identities. Among the aims of the project is to overcome the tendency to discuss CEECs as "eastern problem" focusing instead on the similarities that exist between Southern and Eastern European countries in relation to the family and to evaluate the influence of EU institution in this policy area.

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Krakowskie Przedmiecie 26/28

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