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The contribution focuses on how social policy, or precicely, institutional regulations and law affect the social practices of working mothers and their daily lives. As this practices are embedded in cultural patterns and normative rules of the prevailing society, the question is raised, to what extent the culture of different welfare regimes are determined by those historical grown orientations and values or rather, which effect law or legal order have on social behaviour. As an example serves a case study of the different social policies in East and West-Germany and their effects on everyday practices and opportunities of women. It clearly turns out, that there are legible differences in women`s daily lives and also in their concept of motherhood: in the East, women take for granted the fact that they will be able to combine work and motherhood, while West German women feel much more ambivalence regarding their responsibilities. The German case is particularly instructive because women from East and West share common historical roots. Therefore, it may be useful to explore how ideas, practices and policies get buried and re-surface over time. The very different policy trajectories in the post-war period in the two Germanies provide fertile ground for the exploration of meanings.

Uta Gerhardt
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