Family and Social Policy

Notes on the Family and Social Policy

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Family and Social Policy
A potential exam question could be:
Examine the ways in which laws and social policies may affect family life
You can also use this handout when discussing family diversity
The Definition of Social Policy
Social policy is concerned with the ways in which societies respond to social
problems and social needs e.g. poverty.
They concern the actions of governments to improve social conditions.
Here is an example of how a government policy has affect family life in an
extreme way:
CHINA: one child policy was created in an effort to keep the population under
1.2 billion.
There has been an increase in the number of orphans particularly young girls
as families wanted to try for male heirs.
So policy can affect size and type of family. We will look at policy in relation to
sociological theory. Examples in Britain are not as dramatic
Recent Social Policy:
1. School Holiday's
Against diversity because:
· They make it difficult for one partner to find work out of the
­ It supports Parson's instrumental and expressive roles
­ Supports the patriarchal family
2. The Majority of Public Housing
Against diversity because....
· These are generally designed for two parent families
­ Easier to obtain if you have children to support and are
­ Against same sex, cohabiting, and singletons
· New right would argueIt easier to obtain if you are a divorcee/
single parent family

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Child Support Agency
Against diversity because...
· Absent parents must pay their way
­ Encourages couples to stay together
­ Discourages couples from having children outside the
· supporting patriarchal family and alienating those
suffering domestic violence
· Inhibits choice and freedom
It offers help to those in single parent families
1/: Working families tax credits
Supporting diversity because...…read more

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Sociological Theory and Social Policy
How may these laws and social policies affect families and households?
In their view social policy should avoid doing anything that disrupts the `natural',
`nuclear family.
They argue
· Governments seek to weaken families self reliance by providing benefits
e.g. paying council housing for unpaid teen mums
According to Murray:
These benefits offer perverse incentives:
Fathers think `if the state will care for my child I won't have to'.…read more

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Much of social policy represents an attempt to create and promote a
normal family that excludes `deviant' behaviour
If the governments benefits are based around the `normal' family this will
discourage things like cohabitation. This makes it more difficult for people to
live in any other family type.…read more

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Foucault's Concept of Surveillance
Like Marxists and Feminists Foucault believes that the state do exercise power,
however they are not the only ones:
Power is diffused between throughout society Doctors, Social Workers
They use their expert knowledge to express power over individuals.
­ E.g. Compulsory parenting orders etc
Therefore these professionals carry out surveillance and monitor families. They
are "Policing the Families"
Therefore the poorer families are more likely to be seen as problem families and
as the cause of antisocial behaviour.…read more



thank you!

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