Dorota Szelewa (University College Dublin)
11 June 2020 @ 14:00 - 15:00
“Gender, Right-Wing Populism and Family Policy Discourses in Hungary and in Poland”
Abstract: The main topic of this seminar is to analyse the recent reforms and discourses about gender roles as produced and activated by the right-wing populist governments in Hungary (post 2010) and Poland (post 2015). In the context of a rapid demographic decline that took place in almost all East European Countries, women started to be predominantly perceived through their reproductive functions. In Hungary, pro-natalist policies favouring cash transfers were intensified under the slogans of ‘demographic revolution of the middle class’, with blaming women for falling fertility rates. In Poland, aligned with the Catholic Church, the new government has openly attacked the notion of gender, while limiting access to emergency contraception, IVF treatment, and allowing the repeated attempts to introduce a complete abortion ban, while at the same time investing heavily in child-related policies. Overall, such approach would place more emphasis on supply side of politics. For characterising the recent reforms in Hungary and Poland I am using the notions of maternalism and familialism (and their varieties) and then to analyse the main discourses around maternity in relation to gender roles and other accompanying discourses employed by the right-wing populist governments in the new political contexts. My argument is that the recent developments in these policies and discourses can be interpreted as re-building and strengthening national identities. Specifically, I am using Nira Yuval-Davis’s framework of gendered nationalism. As previous studies often focused on Hungarian-Polish comparison due to differences in their policy mixes, with Hungary being labelled ‘public maternalism’ or ‘comprehensive support’ and Poland – ‘private maternalism’ or ‘implicit familialism’, this paper demonstrates how the recent reforms contribute to transformation of Polish version of maternalism from ‘private’ to ‘public’.