In analyses of gender and the Scandinavian welfare states, Norway often stands out as “different.” Through a historical comparison of the politics of women's incorporation into Norwegian and Swedish welfare state policies, this article seeks to understand why. More specifically, it focuses on women's mobilization and how this intersected with class and national mobilization, the policy legacies of the initial legislation granting women social rights, and their impact on women's identities and coalition building among women, as well as the forging of cross-gender alliances. In addition to casting light on the Norwegian puzzle, this article seeks to contribute to the growing literature on gender and the making of welfare states, and indirectly to interrogate the claim that European welfare states in their formative period (1880–1925) were “paternalist, ” while U.S. policies had a much stronger “maternalist” bent during this era.

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