Journal Article

SUPPORT FOR YOUNG PREGNANT WOMEN AND JUVENILE MOTHERS IN GERMANY: HISTORICAL CHANGES IN CONCEPTS AND PRACTICES

Heike Fleßner

in International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family

Volume 18, issue 3, pages 371-384
Published in print December 2004 | ISSN: 1360-9939
Published online December 2004 | e-ISSN: 1464-3707 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/lawfam/18.3.371
SUPPORT FOR YOUNG PREGNANT WOMEN AND JUVENILE MOTHERS IN GERMANY: HISTORICAL CHANGES IN CONCEPTS AND PRACTICES

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I discuss some of the historical stages in social policy concerning underage pregnant women and mothers in Germany from the end of the nineteenth century until today. Of central concern here is the development of various socio-pedagogical concepts of support and the correlating social perceptions of juvenile illegitimate pregnancy. While substantial changes can be seen in this period, there is at the same time surprisingly much which remains in place. Especially notable among the changes is the legislation and coordination of protection and aid established during the Weimar Republic, as well as, later, in the 1990s, the growing number of legislated aid-structures enabling the development of individualized concepts of support. By contrast, however, there is also a remarkable historical continuity, especially in regard to a prevailing discourse of discipline aimed at underage pregnant women and mothers. My argument, in brief, is as follows: the foundation of socio-pedagogical aid-strategies at the close of the nineteenth century reflected dominant bourgeois norms, which focused on the moral stigmatization and social disciplining of young women. This pattern, although modified by the democratical legislation of the Weimar Republic, extended well into the era of West German post-war society. Significant steps towards contemporary legal protection and social acceptance of underage pregnancy and motherhood today have not been established without contradiction.

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Subjects: Family Law ; Marriage and the Family

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