Social policies

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  • Families and social policy
    • A comparative view of family policy
      • Abolishing the family
        • One particular striking attempt by the state to shape family life was policy followed after the Russian Revolution of 1917.
        • The government of the newly formed Soviet Union sought to destroy the old pre-revoluntionary patriarchal family structure.
          • This regarded as an obstacle to the creation of a socialist society based on equality.
            • Consequently, the Soviet government in the 1920's changed the laws to make divorce and abortion easy to obtain.
            • The constitution guaranteed equality between sexes, women entered paid employment on a vast scale, and the state began to provide workplace and other communal nurseries.
        • Keeping with the Marxist perspective on the family, it was expected that the abolition of capitalist ownership of the means of production.
          • This would lead to the traditional family 'withering away'
          • However, the new Soviet state was beset many difficulties, including civil war, famine and, after Hitler's rise to power in 1933, the threat of war with nazi germany.
            • This all meant a change of policy: Divorce laws were tightened, abortion made illegal, and parents encouraged to have more children and rewarded with big family allowances.
      • China's one child policy
        • By contrast with the soviet union's attempts to encourage population growth through its family policies.
          • China's government has discouraged couples from having more than one child.
        • Adrian Wilson (1985), the policy is supervised by workplace family planning committees, women must seek their position to try to become pregnant.
          • Couples who comply with the policy get extra benefits, such as free child healthcare and higher tax allowance and pay a fine.
        • Couples who break their agreement to having only one child my repay the allowances and pay a fine, women may face sterilisation after their firstborn.
      • Nazi family policy
        • In Nazi Germany in the 1930's, the state pursued a twofold policy.
        • One the one hand, it encouraged the healthy and supposedly 'racially pure' to breed a 'master race'.
          • The official policy sought to keep women out of the workforce and confine them to 'children, kitchen and church', the better to perform their biological role.
            • On the other hand, the state compulsorily sterilised 375,000 disabled people that it deemed unfit to breed on grounds of 'physical malformation, mental retardation, epilepsy, imbecility, deafness or blindness'.
    • Perspectives on families and social policy
      • Funtionalism
        • Funtionalists see social policies as being for the good of all. They see policies as helping families to perform their functions more effectively and make life better for their members.
        • Criticisms:    It assumes that all members benefit from from social policies.        It assumes  that there is a 'march of progress', with social policies steadily making family life better.
      • The new right

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