From pronatalism to salvaging relationships: The Finnish Population and Family Welfare League’s Conceptions of marriage and divorce, 1951–1988

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This article studies how Väestöliitto (the Finnish Population and Family Welfare League), a non-governmental expert organization specialized in family policy, framed marriage as a social ideal and, respectively, divorce as a social problem, and how this framing developed during 1951–1988. In the 1940s and 1950s, Väestöliitto was a conservative actor; i.e. it sought to preserve existing family, gender, and matrimonial norms. Its focus was on pre-emptive action aiming at addressing the underlying reasons behind marriage dissolution. Through family education, Väestöliitto sought to solidify its familial and matrimonial ideals on the level of individuals as well as on a broader societal level. However, in the 1960s and 1970s, as the surrounding society saw the emergence of structural change and modernized values and policies, the normative ideas of Väestöliitto remained largely unchanged. Väestöliitto was thus not merely conservative, but falling behind its time. Only in the 1980s was it influenced by the modern society, at which point it drastically reframed marriage and divorce: marriage and family were no longer perceived as a partially public (state/society) matter, but, rather, divorce was understood as a private issue of individuals.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScandinavian Journal of History
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)141–160
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 5201 Political History
  • 5142 Social policy
  • marriage
  • divorce
  • family education
  • expertise
  • knowledge production
  • social problems
  • Finland

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