Topic 7 Families and social policy

  • Created by: Ali682
  • Created on: 19-02-19 20:23
Functionalists see society as built on harmony and consensus and free from major conflicts. They see the state as acting in the interests of society as a whole and its social policies as being good for all of them.
1 of 55
Functionalism (2)
Functionalists see polices as helping families to perform their functions more effectively and make life better for their members.
2 of 55
Ronald Fletcher (1996)
Argues that the introduction of health, education and housing polices in the years since the industrial revolution has gradually led to the development of a welfare state that supports the family in performing its functions more effectively.
3 of 55
Functionalism (3)
The functionalist view has been criticised on 2 main counts: 1. it assumes that all members of the family benefit equally from social polices whereas feminists argue that polices often benefit men. 2 It assumes that there is a march of progress.
4 of 55
Jacques Donzelot (1977)
Offers a very different perspective on the relationship between the family and state the polices from that of the functionalists. Rather than a consensus view of policy as benefiting the family Donzelot has a conflict view of society.
5 of 55
Jacques Donzelot (1977) (2)
Donzelot uses Michel Foucault's (1976) concept of surveillance. Foucault sees power not just as something held by the government or state, but as diffused throughout society and found within all relationships.
6 of 55
Sees professionals such as doctors and social workers as exercising power over their clients by using their expert knowledge to turn them into 'cases' to be dealt with.
7 of 55
Applies these ideas to the family. He is interested in how professionals carry out surveillance of the families. He argues that social workers, health visitors and doctors use their knowledge to control and change families.
8 of 55
Rachel Condry (2007)
Notes the state may seek to control and regulate family life by imposing compulsory parenting orders through the courts.
9 of 55
Rejects the functionalists' march of progress view that social policy and the professionals who carry it out have created a better, freer or humane society. Instead he sees social policy as a form of state control of the family.
10 of 55
Criticisms of Donzelot
Marxists and feminists criticise Donzelot for failing to identify clearly who benefits from such polices of surveillance. Marxists argue that social polices generally operate in the interests of the capitalist class.
11 of 55
The New Right
The New Right strongly in favour of the conventional or 'traditional' nuclear family based on a married, heterosexual couple with a division of labour between a male provider and a female homemaker.
12 of 55
The New Right
They see this family type as naturally self-reliant and capable of caring and providing for its members, especially the successful socialisation of children. In their view the changes that have led to greater family diversity.
13 of 55
The New Right
For the New Right polices have encouraged these changes and helped to undermine the nuclear family.
14 of 55
What does Brenda Almond (2006) argue?
Laws making divorce easier undermine the idea of marriage as a lifelong commitment between a man and a women. The introduction of civil partnerships for gay and lesbian couples sends out the message that the state no longer sees heterosexual
15 of 55
What does Brenda Almond (2006) argue? (2)
marriage as superior to other domestic set ups. Tax laws discriminate against conventional families with a sole breadwinner. They cannot transfer the non-working partner's tax allowances to the working partner, so they tend to pay more tax allowance
16 of 55
Lone parents, welfare policy and the dependency culture
New Right commentators such as Charles Murray (1984:1990) are critical of welfare policy. In their view, providing generous welfare benefits for unmarried teenage mothers and cash payments to support lone parent families undermines the conventional
17 of 55
Lone parents, welfare policy and the dependency culture (2)
nuclear family and encourages deviant and dysfunctional family types that harm society.
18 of 55
Lone parents, welfare policy and the dependency culture (3)
Murray argues that these welfare benefits offer perverse incentives- that is they reward irresponsible or anti-social behaviour.
19 of 55
Lone parents, welfare policy and the dependency culture (4)
For example if fathers see that the state will maintain their children some of them will abandon their responsibilities towards their families. Providing council housing for unmarried couples teenage mothers encourages young girls to become pregnant
20 of 55
The New Right's solutions
The New Right's solution to these problems is simple.They argue that the policy must be changed with cuts in welfare spending and tighter restrictions on who is eligible for benefits.
21 of 55
The New Right's solutions (2)
In their view this would have several advantages. For example, cutting welfare benefits would mean that taxes could also be reduced, and both these charges would give fathers more incentive to work and to provide for their families.
22 of 55
The New Right's solutions (3)
Similarly, denying council housing to unmarried teenage mothers would remove a major incentive to become pregnant when they are young.
23 of 55
The New Right's solutions (4)
The New Right also advocate polices to support the traditional nuclear family such as taxes that favored married rather than cohabiting couples and making absent fathers financially responsible for the children.
24 of 55
The New Right's solutions (5)
Whereas functionalists take the view that state welfare polices can benefit the family and make it better able to meet its members' needs the New Right disagree.
25 of 55
The New Right's solutions (6)
In their view the less the state interferes in families the better family life will be. Greater self-reliance and not reliance on the state is what will enable the family to meet its members' needs most effectively.
26 of 55
Evaluation of the New Right view
Feminists argue that it is an attempt to justify a return to the traditional patriarchal nuclear family that subordinated women to men and confined them to a domestic role. It wrongly assumes that the patriarchal nuclear family is 'natural'.
27 of 55
Evaluation of the New Right view (2)
Pam Abbott and Claire Wallace (1992) argue that cutting benefits would simply drive many poor families into even greater poverty and make them even less reliant. The New Right ignore the many polices that support and maintain the conventional family.
28 of 55
The New Right's influence on policies
The New Right is a conservative view of the family that first developed in the 1970s. Therefore we might expect it to have had a strong influence on the conservative party's polices towards the family.
29 of 55
Conservative governments (1979-97)
Reflecting a New Right view, Mrs Thatcher's conservative government banned the promotion of homosexuality by local authorities.This included a ban on teaching that homosexuality was an acceptable family relationship.
30 of 55
Conservative governments (1979-97) (2)
The conservatives also defined divorce as a social problem and emphasised the continued responsibility of parents for their children after divorce.
31 of 55
New Labour governments (1997-2010)
New Labout took the view that the family is the bedrock of society and saw a family headed by a married, heterosexual couple as the best environment for bringing up the children.
32 of 55
New Labour governments (1997-2010) (2)
The New Labour emphasised the need for parents to take responsibility for their children for example by introducing Parenting orders for parents.
33 of 55
New Labour governments (1997-2010) (3)
However, as Elisabeth Silva and Carol Smart (1999) note New Labour rejected the New Right view that the family should have just one earner and recognised that women too now go out to work.
34 of 55
New Labour governments (1997-2010) (4)
The New Labour policies favoured the kind of dual-earner neo conventional family described by Robert Chester. These policies included: longer maternity leave, working families tax credit and the new deal.
35 of 55
New Labour governments (1997-2010) (5)
A final area of difference with the New Right was in New Labour's support for alternatives to the conventional heterosexual nuclear family.
36 of 55
The Coalition government 2010-15
The conservatives have long been divided between what Richard Hayton (2010) calls moderisers and traditionalists.
37 of 55
Who recognise that families are now more diverse and are willing to reflect this in their policies
38 of 55
Who favour a New Right view and reject diversity as morally wrong.
39 of 55
The Coalition government 2010-15 (2)
This division means that the Conservative party has found it difficult to maintain a consistent policy line on the family. Critics argue that the coalition government's financial austerity policies reflected New Right's desire to cut public spending.
40 of 55
Feminists take a conflict view. They see society as patriarchal, benefiting women at women's expenses. They argue that all social institutions including the state and its policies to help to maintain women's subordinate position.
41 of 55
Policy as self-fulfilling prophecy
Policies are often based on assumptions about what the 'normal' family is like. Feminists such as Hilary Land (1978) argue that many social polices assume that the ideal family is the patriarchal nuclear family with a male provider.
42 of 55
Policy as self-fulfilling prophecy (2)
This norm of what the family should be like affects the kind of policies governing family life. In turn, the effects of the policies is often to reinforce that particular type of family at the expense of other types.
43 of 55
Policies supporting the patriarchal family
Feminists identify numerous examples of policies that help to maintain the conventional patriarchal nuclear family and reinforce women's economic independence. These include the 3 following.
44 of 55
1. Tax and benefit policies
May assume that husbands are the main wage-earners and that wives are their financial dependents. This can make it impossible for wives to claim social security benefits since it is expected that their husbands will provide.
45 of 55
2. Childcare
While the government pays for some childcare for pre-school children this is not enough to permit parents to work full-time unless they can meet the additional costs . Policies governing school holidays make it hard for parents to work full-time.
46 of 55
3. Care for the sick and elderly
Government policies often assume that the family will provide this care. In general, this means it is middle aged women who are expected to do the caring. In turn this often prevents them from working full time, increasing their economic independence
47 of 55
3. Care for the sick and elderly (2)
Furthermore as Diana Leonard (1978) argues even where policies appear to support women they may still reinforce the patriarchal family and act as a from of social control over women.
48 of 55
Evaluation of the feminist view
Not all policies are directed at maintaining patriarchy. For example, equal pay act and sex discrimination laws, the rights of lesbians to marry, benefits for lone parents, refuges for women escaping domestic violence and equal rights to divorce
49 of 55
Evaluation of the feminist view (2)
could all be said to challenge the patriarchal family. Similarly **** within marriages was made a criminal offence in 1991.
50 of 55
Gender regimes
Eileen Drew (1995) uses the concept of gender regimes to describe how social policies in different countries can either encourage or discourage gender equality in the family and at work.
51 of 55
Gender regimes (2)
She identifies 2 types of gender regimes following different types of family policies. 1 familistic gender regimes and 2 individualistic gender regimes.
52 of 55
Familistic gender regimes
Where policies are based on a traditional gender division between male breadwinner and female housewife and carer.
53 of 55
Individualistic gender regimes
Where policies are based on the belief that husbands and wives should be treated the same. Wives are not assumed to be financially dependent on their husbands.
54 of 55
Status versus market
Drew argues that most European Union countries are now moving towards more Individualistic gender regimes. However policies such as publicly funded childcare do not some cheap.
55 of 55

Other cards in this set

Card 2


Functionalism (2)


Functionalists see polices as helping families to perform their functions more effectively and make life better for their members.

Card 3


Ronald Fletcher (1996)


Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


Functionalism (3)


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


Jacques Donzelot (1977)


Preview of the front of card 5
View more cards


No comments have yet been made

Similar Sociology resources:

See all Sociology resources »See all Families and households resources »