social policies

  • Created by: Lucy
  • Created on: 24-03-15 11:59

Functionalist view on social policies

  • Functionalists see policies as helping families to peform their functions more effectively and make life better for all its members.
  • For example, Ronald Flecther argues that the introduction of health, education and housing policies in the years since the industrial revolution has gradually led to the development of a welfare state that supports the family in peforming the functions.
  • The exitence of the NHS means that the family today is better at caring for its members when they are sick.


  • It assumes that all members of the famiy benefit from social policies, whereas feminists argue that policies often benefit men at the expense of women.
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The New right view on social policies

  • In their view social policies should avoid doing anything which might undermine the 'natural', self-reliant family.
  • They argure that governments often weaken the families self-relaince by providing generous welfare benefits. Such as providing council housing for unmarried teenage mothers and cash payments to support single parents.
  • Charles Murray argues that these benefits offer 'perverse incentives' - that is, they reward irresponsible or anti-social behaviour. For example; providing housin for teenage unmarried mother encorages young girls to becoe preganant.
  • The New Right also have advocate policies to support the nuclear family, such as taxes that favour married rather than cohabiting couples,and the child support agency.


  • It wrongly assums that the patriachal nuclear family is 'natural' rather than socially constructed.
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Feminist view on social policies

  • Feminists such as Hilary Land argue that social polices oten assume that the ideal family is the patriachal nuclear family.
  • Tax and benefit policies may assume that the husbands are the main wage earners and that wives are their financial dependance. This can make it impossible for wives to claim social security benefits in their own right, since it is expected that their husbands will provide.
  • Diana Leonard argues that when there are policies which support women, they may still reinforce the patriachl family and act as a form of social control over women.


  • Not all policies are directed at maintaining patriachy. For example, equal pay and sex discrimination laws, benefits for single parents and equal rights to divorce could all be said to challange the patriachal family.
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Marxist view on social policies

  • Marxists do not see policies as benefiting all members of society equally.
  • They see the state and it's policies as serving captalism.
  • For example, they see the low level of state pensions as evidence tht once workers are too old to produce profits, they are 'maintained' at the lowest possible cost.
  • They dont accept that there is a steady march of progress toards even better welfare policies producing even happier families.
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What is social policiy?

  • social policy refers to the plans and actions of government agencies, such as the health and social services, the welfare benefit system, schools and other public bodies.
  • Most social policies affet families in some way or another.
  • Some are aimed directly at families such as laws governing marriage and divorce, abortion and contraception, child protection, adoption and so on.
  • Other policies arent aimed at the families directly can still have an effect on them. For example, The policy of compulsory education enables parents to go to work while schools provide free 'childminding' service.
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