Gender and gender regimes

Gender is one of the major subject areas of socioeconomic reporting. This chapter provides background and definition for the analysis of ‘Gender’ and develops an analytical frame for gender regimes. The research association assumes that the change of gender regimes was and still is a factor in the ongoing transformation of Germany’s production and social model. The central concepts of ‘gender’ and ‘gender regimes’, need, therefore, to be reviewed and clearly defined – with reference to the report’s results. The description offered here leads to a proposal that incorporates indicators for regular monitoring of changes within the gender regime.



Gender research looks at socially constructed sex boundaries, rather than physical features. Let us first reconstruct the scientific and political discourse about ‘gender’. Starting with women’s studies and women’s policies in the 1970s, discourse led to gender studies and gender policies. Men’s studies and the de-gendering approach have to be taken into consideration as well. The most influential concepts of gender, gender differences, doing und undoing gender, gender arrangements, gender equity, gender mainstreaming and gender regimes will be summarized and differentiated in the following. Unambiguous gender definitions shall serve as an analytical frame throughout the reporting.


The German gender regime

We will define the West German as well as the old East German gender regime, the latter shaping the new federal states until 1990, and describe them by employing macro indicators. This will be done on the basis of a theoretical definition of gender and an evaluation of the existing studies about gender regimes and their changes. It is based on a broad concept of gender regime, including not only political regulation by the welfare-state, but also economy and life style, i.e. gender orders. Of particular interest is S. Walby’s concept, which describes the differences and changes within the European gender regimes, between countries and in their historical context. The concept implies that gender regimes should be primarily distinguished according to the degree of re-figuration of public and private sphere as well as of production and reproduction. These include for example the disappearance of the Fordist model of the male-breadwinner, the transformation of housework into a paid service, growing inequality amongst women and gender-specific divisions in society.

The research association proceeds from the assumption that the gender regimes of the Federal Republic and the GDR are differentiated by the different strategies they pursued to exploit the labour force potential and to satisfy workers’ needs: Whereas in the GDR women were recruited for industry and administration as early as in the 1960s, the Federal Republic stuck to the model of the main breadwinner and counted on immigration. This led to different gender regimes in the two parts of the country. On the basis of the different dimensions of analysis already introduced, we will focus particularly on the extent to which these differences continue to exist, and are being perpetuated by different regime types.

Results (German)
Betzelt, Sigrid: "Gender Regimes": Ein ertragreiches Konzept für die komparative Forschung. Literaturstudie. soeb-Arbeitspapier 2007-1. PDF

Responsibility for this chapter

Tanja Schmidt, Schmidt-Social-Research