Social Policy and the Family

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  • Created by: kle1234
  • Created on: 24-03-16 11:55
social policy
the measures taken by state bodies such as schools and welfare agencies. usually based on laws introduced by government. have direct and indirect effects on the family
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direct effects
some policies aimed specifically at family life. eg. laws on marriage, divorce, child protection, contraception and abortion.
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indirect effects
policies on other social or economic issues also effect the family. eg. compulsory schooling provides childcare for working parents. taxation policies affect how much money is taken from families and how much is made available for services for family
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cross-cultural examples of social policy.
China's one child policy, Communist Romania (drive up birth rates, restrict contraception/abortion), Nazi family policy (keep women out of work force, confine them to children, work and church)
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functionalist perspective on social policy
the state acts in the interests of the whole society. policies help the family perform its functions.
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Functionalist - Fletcher
introduction of health, education and housing policies has lead to the development of a welfare state that supports families. this is a march of progress view
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criticisms of the functionalist perspective on social policy
it assumes all members of the family benefit equally and that there is a march of progress (family life is gradually getting better and better.
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the new right perspective on social policy
opposes state intervention in family life. changes have lead to greater family diversity (eg. increases in divorce, cohabitation and lone parenthood). policies have undermined the nuclear family.
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increase rights for unmarried cohabiting couples
eg. adoption rights, pension rights when partner dies and succession to council house tenancies. make cohabitation and marriage more similar - sends signal that state does not see marriage as special or superior.
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The New Right Perspective - Almond
laws make divorce easier, introduction of civil partnership sends message state no longer sees heterosexual marriage as superior, tax laws discriminate against conventional families with a sole breadwinner (they pay more tax than dual-earner couples)
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The New Right Perspective - Murray
sees welfare benefits as perverse incentives - rewarding irresponsible behaviour. eg. growth of lone parent families as state provides benefits to lone mothers, the father will abandon their family.
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the new rights solution
favour cutting welfare spending, especially universal benefits. this would reduce taxes and give incentive for fathers to provide for their family. the less families depend on the state the better.
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conservative governments
banned promotion of homosexuality. defines divorce as a social problem but made divorce easier. emphasised parents continued responsibility for children after divorce. set up Child Support Agency- enforcing maintenance payments by absent parent.
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new labour governments (1997-2010)
traditional family best environment to raise a child. emphasised parents to take responsibility for children (introducing Parenting Orders for parents of young offenders). policies can improve family life
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New Labour government - Silva and Smart
reject the family should only have male earner and recognise women now go out to work too.
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New Labour policies - Robert Chester
favoured dual earner neo-conventional family. include; longer maternity leave, working families tax credit, the new deal(helping lone parent return to work).
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the coalition government - Hayton
conservatives divided between modernisers (recongnise families now more diverse and reflect this in their policies) and traditionalists (favour new right view, reject diversity as morally wrong).
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effect of division between conservative -led coalition government
led to difficulty to maintain a consistent policy on the family.
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critics of coalition government
financial austerity policies reflect new right desire to cut public spending however, failed to introduce policies promoting new right ideal of a conventional heterosexual nuclear family.
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Feminist perspective on social policy
a conflict perspective - society based on a conflict of interests between men and women. society is patriarchal. social policies shape or define family life in ways that benefit men and maintain patriarchy, eg. tax and benefits policies / childcare
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Feminist perspective - Land
policies assume patriarchal society to be the norm. as a result act as a self fulfilling prophecy, helping reproduce patriarchal family type.
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criticisms of feminist perspective on social policy
not all policies maintain patriarchy, eg. equal pay act, sex discrimination laws, same sex marriage. **** in marriage made criminal offence improving position of women in the family.
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Drew - gender regimes
describes how social policies in different countries can either encourage or discourage geder equality in the family and at work. 2 types of gender regimes; familistic gender regimes and individualistic gender regimes.
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familistic gender regimes
policies are based on traditional gender division between male breadwinner and female housewife.
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individualistic gender regimes
policies are based on the belief that husbands and wives should be treated the same. wives not assumed financially dependant on husband, so each partner has seperate entitlement to state benefits.
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Marxist perspective on social policy and the family
social policies in place to benefit capitalism.
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direct effects


some policies aimed specifically at family life. eg. laws on marriage, divorce, child protection, contraception and abortion.

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indirect effects


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cross-cultural examples of social policy.


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functionalist perspective on social policy


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