In this article, we analyse the case of reconciling work and family as a particularly illuminative example of the effects of soft Europeanization. We focus on one particular policy instrument of the EU, namely projects co-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF), which have sought to develop family-friendly arrangements in Finnish workplaces. Our analysis suggests that this soft law instrument can result in significant changes in member states, even in cases where the member state's own policy is well entrenched. Theoretically, our contribution is to connect soft Europeanization to the Foucauldian theory on power, and the literature on Analytics of Government specifically. From this perspective we argue that the ESF development projects function as Foucauldian ‘technologies of involvement’. We find that by stabilizing and normalizing project techniques and managerial rationalities untypical for previous gender equality and work–family policies in the country, the ESF projects in our case partly challenge some established principles of Nordic welfare policies, such as universalism and state responsibility for welfare measures. Moreover, as ESF projects have managed to involve mainly female-dominated organizations and women as participants, we pose the question whether this kind of soft-law instrument that trusts the self-regulation capacities of actors can bring about change in gendered conventions.
- gender equality
- reconciling work and family