Christians, Feminists, Liberals, Socialists, Workers and Employers

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How can actors reach an agreement on the future of social policy when they interpret the world around them very differently? Around the turn of the century diverse groups in The Netherlands, such as workers, employers, feminists, and Socialist, Christian and Liberal political parties, reached an agreement on the introduction of a ‘life-course perspective’ in the social-security system. The system was to anticipate the ways individuals prefer to distribute their time between work and other activities like care, education, leisure, etc. This chapter explains how this unusual coalition between parties and stakeholders could emerge, with attention to methodological aspects concerning the study of ‘discourse coalitions’. The argument is that a central storyline in a life-course perspective works as a cohesive, uniting different actors, because each actor can interpret the signifier ‘life-course perspective’ in his/her own way.


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