Sociology-Perspectives on family policy

  • Created by: Daisymac
  • Created on: 18-03-19 11:24
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  • Perspectives on family and social policy
    • Functionalism
      • See society as based on harmony and consensus and free from all major conflicts
      • See state as acting in the interests of society a s a whole and its policies good for all
      • See policies as helping families perform their functions more effectively
      • Fletcher 1966-- Argues into of health,education and housing policies has led to the development of the welfare state that supports the family
      • NHS= doctors,nurses and medicines can help care of its members
      • CRITICISED!> Assumes that all members of the family benefit equally ~ Feminists argue that these policies mostly benefit men
        • Assumes that there is a march of progress> Assumes social policies are gradually making family life better~ Marxists argues that policies can reverse progress previously made eg, cutting welfare benefits
    • Donzelot ; Policing the family
      • 1977- Has a conflict view of society and sees policy as a form of social control over families
        • Rejects the march of progress view as he sees it as a form of control
      • Uses Foucaults 1976 concept of surveillance, who sees power not just held by the government or state but also diffused throughout society
        • Sees professionals as exercising power over their clients by turning them into cases to be dealt with
      • Applies these to family~sees professionals, eg doctors and health visitors, as using their knowledge to change and control families
      • Poor families= Problem families= target area for improvement
      • Condry 2007=- State may seek to control and regulate family life by imposing compulsory parenting orders through the courts
      • Marxists and feminists criticize him for failing to clearly identifying who benefits from surveillance policies
    • The new right
      • Strongly favour the traditional nuclear family
        • See it as naturally self-reliant and capable of caring for its members
      • State policies have encouraged changes, like divorce and same sex partnerships,which undermine the nuclear family
      • Almond 2002- Argues that laws making divorce easier undermines the idea that marriage is a lifelong commitment,  same sex marriage send out a message that heterosexual marriage is no longer superior and tax laws discriminate against conventional families
      • Solution
        • Cuts in welfare spending
        • Tighter restrictions on who is eligible for benefits
        • This would reduce taxes which would give fathers more of an incentive to work
        • Taxes that favor married couples
      • Feminists argue that this is an attempt to return to the traditional nuclear family that subordinated women to men
      • Wrongly assumes the patriarchal nuclear family is natural rather than socially constructed
      • Abbott and Wallace 1992 argue cutting benefits= drive poor families into greater poverty and less self reliant
      • Ignore many policies support the nuclear family
    • Lone parents, welfare policy and the dependency culture
      • Murray 1990 critical of welfare policy
      • Providing generous welfare benefits undermines the conventional nuclear family and encourages deviant behavior and dysfunctional family types that harm society
      • Murray argues that these welfare benefits offer perverse incentives which reward irresponsible behavior
        • If fathers see that state will maintain their children = Abandon responsibility
        • Council housing to unmarried teen mothers= Become pregnant
      • Such policies threaten the successful socialization of young and maintenance of work ethic among men
    • Influence on policies
      • Conservative governments 1979-97
        • Thatchers conservative government banned the promotion of homosexuality by local authorities
          • Banned  teaching that homosexuality was an acceptable family relationship
        • Defined divorce as a social problem and emphasised the continued responsibility of parents for their children after divorce
        • They also introduced measures such as making divorce easier and giving children born outside marriage the same rights as those born to married parents
      • Coalition government 2010-15
        • Divided between what Hayton 2010 calls:
          • Modernisers who recognise families are more diverse and want to reflect this in their policies
          • Traditionalists who favour new right view and reject diversity as morally wrong
        • Division means it is hard to maintain a consistent policy line on the family
        • Eg they introduced gay marriage but new right opposed to it
        • Critics argue that the coalition governments  financial austerity policies reflected the new rights desire to cut public spending
        • Failed to introduce policies that promoted new right ideal of nuclear family
          • Browne 2012 found that the two parent families with children fared badly as a result of the tax and benefits policies
      • New labour 1997-2010
        • Took view that family is bedrock of society
        • Saw a family headed by a married, heterosexual couple as best
        • Emphasised need for parents to take responsibility for their children
        • Silva and Smart 1999 note new labour rejected the new right view that the family should just be a male earner and recognise that women go to work
        • NL policies favoured neo conventional families
          • Longer maternity leave-- 3 months unpaid leave for both parents
          • Working families Tax credit, enabling parents to claim same tax relief on childcare costs
          • The New Deal, helping lone parents return to work
        • Argue that these policies can improve life for families
        • Their welfare, taxation and minimum wage policies were partly aimed at lifting children out of poverty by redistributing income
        • Support alternatives to conventional family
          • Outlawing discrimination based on sexuality
          • Giving unmarried couples same rights to adopt as married couples
      • Feminism
        • Land 1978 argues that many social policies assume that the ideal family is the patriarchal nuclear family with a male provider and female homemaker
        • This norm of what the family should be affects the policies governing family life
        • The effect of these policies is to often reinforce that particular type of family creating a self fulfilling prophecy
        • Eg if the normal type  of family is the nuclear, it may offer tax incentives to married couples
        • Policy makers make it more difficult to live in other family types the the one policymakers assume they live in
        • Tax and benefit policies assume husbands are the main wage earner and their wive are financially dependent and makes it impossible  for wives to claim social security benefits
        • Childcare-- The pay for childcare for preschool children is not enough to permit parents to work full time, meaning women are restricted from working and are economically dependent on their mothers
        • Care for the sick and elderly-- Government policies often assume that the family will provide for this care, but usually middle aged women have this task , preventing them from working full time an so dependent on their partners
        • Leonard 1978 argues even when policies appear to support women, this may still reinforce the patriarchal family and act as a form of social control
          • EG. Maternity leave benefit women but reinforce patriarchy as their money is more than patriarchy, suggesting it is the woman job to look after the children
          • Child benefit paid to mother, showing it is her responsibility to look after them
        • -+ve not all policies are directed at maintaining patriarchy eg. equal pay and sex discrimination  laws, benefits to lone parents, equal rights to divorce
    • Gender regimes
      • Drew 1995 uses concept of gender regimes to describe how social policies in different countries can either encourage or discourage gender equality in the family
      • Familistic gender regimes-- Policies based on traditional gender division between male breadwinner and female housewife
        • EG. Greece- Little state welfare so women have to rely on family
      • Individualistic gender regimes- Policies that believe husbands and wives should be treated the same and should be entitles to separate state benefits
        • Sweden- Equal opportunity policies, state provision of childcare, parental leave and good quality welfare services mean women are less dependent on their husbands and have more opportunities to work
      • But these policies are EXPENSIVE and so they involve major conflicts about who should benefit from social policies and who should pay for them
      • Cutbacks in 2008 to gov spending = Pressure on women to take more responsibility for caring for its family members as the state retreats from providing welfare

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