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"The work of parents should be valued and introduced into the general solidarity system in the form of rights."

Interview with Antonio Moreno Almárcegui, Senior Associate Professor of History of the Economics and member of the committee of experts of the workshop Interdisciplinary on the Family.

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PHOTO: Manuel Castells

Antonio Moreno Almárcegui, Senior Associate Professor of History of the Economics at the University of Navarra, is a member of the committee of experts of the interdisciplinary 'Family and Society in the 21st Century'. workshop interdisciplinary 'Family and Society in the 21st Century', which coordinates thewhich is coordinated by the Institute for Culture and Society on the initiative of Office of the Vice President for Research. In this interview she talks about the family from the perspective of Economics and reviews issues such as the Welfare State, solidarity between generations and conciliation.

How does the institution of the family relate to the welfare state and the common good?

On the one hand, society naturally consists of generations. Its survival naturally depends on solidarity between these generations, which implies solidarity between the members of a generation: among others, between husbands and wives. In the long run deadline, and given the nature of man, the growth and development of society depends on this system of solidarity between generations.

Since World War II, and especially in Europe, the development of the Welfare State has intervened in this intergenerational solidarity and in doing so has distorted intragenerational solidarity.

In what way?

The welfare state is part of this mechanism of intergenerational solidarity. As such: a) it is a mechanism of solidarity among workers; b) it makes work the foundation of identity staff and recognition before the community.

The problem is that, when deciding on rights, the Welfare State only takes into account the market work -I am talking about social rights-, and ignores the free work of families, fathers and mothers. However, the welfare state does take advantage of the work of fathers and mothers: the new generations that families bring forward. Thus, parents contribute with their family work and the State does not recognize this decisive contribution to the functioning of the system in the form of rights comparable to those of the market work .

What are the consequences of this?

It has left paternity and maternity -the ultimate foundation of the whole system- without social rights and without public recognition before the community of its work as the support of the system.

Do you propose a solution?

Value the work of parents and introduce it into the general solidarity system in the form of rights, so that each obligation has its corresponding right before the system.

How has the institution of the family influenced the prosperity of the West?

Specialists say that the Western family is distinguished by being a conjugal, child-centered family. What do they mean?

In Western Christian culture, a marriage subject developed - which some call traditional, but which is actually very recent historically - in a certain sense paradoxical: on the one hand, marriage establishes a strong relationship that makes the spouses equal to each other; but at the same time, the strength of the union favored each spouse to specialize in very different tasks: fathers in the extra-domestic, more public tasks, and mothers in the care of the house, the children and, in general, the care of weak people (elderly, neighbors...), contributing to the creation of a social fabric. It made of marriage and the family a center of sociability (family parties, vacations...) from where it radiated to the rest of the families company, comfort, training...

The raison d'être of this marriage is that it is the most efficient... for the welfare of the children: the specialization allows that, at the same work, the children receive more. It is the most efficient way to invest in the training of the next generation and its deepest aspiration is that "my children become better off than I am". The children thus naturally pass over the interests of the parents, and the parents see in the realization of the children the culmination of their own life: the realization of their virility and femininity. 

This child-centered conjugal family is the reason for the success of the West, for its long-term growth deadline. 

How was the introduction of divorce influenced?

By making the bond dissolvable, it generates uncertainty and prevents the specialization of the parents. Husband-wife solidarity and solidarity between generations go hand in hand. And that is what gave foundation to the Western family system. 

How does all this relate to the discussion around conciliation?

I believe that all the centrality of discussion in the conciliation issues - which in internship reduce to the minimum expression the paternal and maternal tasks specialization (everyone has to do everything) - derives from a society in which the indissolubility of marriage has disappeared from the vital horizon (it is no longer expected), the existence of an 'us' and an 'ours' that is above personal interests. I believe that today the climate surrounding issues of conciliation reflects a profoundly individualistic vision of marriage. 

Of course I am not saying that women should not work outside the home, but that work-life balance cannot be the ONLY model of family and marriage. Specifically, I think it is necessary to say that motherhood by itself justifies a life.