Social policy and the family

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  • Perspectives on policy and the family
    • Functionalism
      • Functionalists see society as based on value concensus
      • The state acts in the intrests of the whole society and it policies benefit everyone
      • Policies help the familt to perform its functions
      • there is a march of progress view - policies are gradually improving family life
    • Marxism
      • marxism is conflict perspective
      • it sees society as divided into two classes, inwhich the capitalist class exploits the working class by paying them less than the value of what they produce
      • All social institutions - including policies - serve the interests of capitalism
      • Policies effecting families is often the result of capitalism
        • World war two, women were needed as a reserve arm of about and so the government set up nurseries to enable them to work
        • Women were no longer needed and the nurseries were closed forcing them back into the housewife role and they became once again dependant on their husbands.
    • The New Right
      • the new right is a conservative political perspective that opposes state intervention in family life.
      • It has a major influence on social policy
      • It sees the traditional nuclear family as natural, based on a biological division of labour
      • If parents perform these roles properly the family will be...
        • Self-reliant
        • Able to socalise children effectively
        • Care for its members
      • The PROBLEM that new right crises may welfare policies for undermining the family's self reliance by providing generous benefits
        • results in the dependency culture
        • MURRY (1984) sees benefits as perverse incentives rewarding irresponsible behaviour
      • The NEw right favour cutting welfare spending especially universal benefits.
        • unlike functionalists the New Right beleive that the less families depend on the state the better.
    • Feminism
      • Feminism is a conflict perspective
      • sees society as based on a conflict of interests between men and women.
      • Society is patriarchal - male dominated
      • Social policies often shape or define family like in ways that benefit men and maintain patriarchy
      • LAND (1978) - argues that policies assume the patriarchal family to be the norm
        • Policies act as a self-fulfilling prophecy, actually helping to reproduce this family type
    • New Labour
      • New labour is a political perspective
      • It favours the traditional family as usually  the best place to raise children, and prefers means-tested benefits targeted at the poor rather than usual benefits
      • Unlike new right...
        • More accepting of family diversity
        • Believes some policies can improve family life


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