Dr Andreas Hoff is Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute of Ageing [sic], University of Oxford. Previously, he was Research Fellow at the German Centre of Gerontology in Berlin and lecturing European Social Policy at the Free University Berlin. His research interests include family sociology and family policy, intergenerational relations, informal vs. formal support, and comparative social policy research.
2006 0-7734-5759-3 This book is concerned with the question of what role informal support networks play in the welfare mix of contemporary welfare states. Family and friends provide informal support on the one hand, and voluntary organizations on the other. Using data from 116 semi-structured interviews with lone mothers in the United Kingdom and Germany, the question of whether different welfare systems influence individual support mobilization strategies is investigated. Lone mothers were selected because of their limited earning capacities that often result in a life in poverty and social exclusion – for them and for their children. It was shown in this research that informal and formal support alleviates these effects and the research project is guided by four main objectives: (1) to map ways in which lone mothers mobilize support from different sources; (2) to investigate whether lone mothers develop support mobilization strategies in turning to formal and/or informal support sources; (3) to analyze whether differences in welfare state systems result in variances in informal support mobilization behavior; and finally, and (4) to evaluate the role and importance of voluntary organizations as support providers for lone mothers. Empirical evidence is provided to demonstrate that informal support networks influence the utilization of formal support. In contrast, variations in welfare state provision do not appear to have a significant impact on support mobilization behavior. Indeed, formal support mobilization is a function of demographic characteristics, influenced by receipts from means-tested benefits and the extent of informal support. The utilization of informal support was dependent on network structural and demographic variables, as well as reciprocity norms.