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Published on February 19, 2008

Author: Altoro

Source: authorstream.com

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“Stronger families …”:  “Stronger families …” Where does family fit into New Labour’s social policies ?:  Where does family fit into New Labour’s social policies ? ‘strong families’ and ‘active communities’ central to New Labour’s political discourse ‘strong families’ and ‘active communities’ crucial to social inclusion and social integration why is the family not ‘strong’ ? how does the family need to be strengthened ? New Labour discourse draws on a number of different, contradictory narratives of the changing family Social policy and ‘the family’:  Social policy and ‘the family’ Family as a social construction competing narratives / theories of how the family has changed and what this means Family as a site of social problems and intervention the family as an object of social policy Link between changing constructions of family and changing social policies Changing household composition :  Changing household composition Narratives / theories of the changing family:  Narratives / theories of the changing family Functionalist Feminist New Right Giddens 1 Functionalist narrative:  1 Functionalist narrative Industrialisation has created the need for a different kind of family to meet the needs of society Nuclear family now more ‘functional’ for society than extended family Small, geographically and socially mobile with weak links to extended family Specialised functions: reproduction, socialisation, stabilisation of personalities Segregated but complementary conjugal roles The male breadwinner model:  The male breadwinner model Beveridge model of welfare was based on assumptions about ‘normal family’ contained in functionalist theory Women’s dependence on men was institutionalised in the postwar welfare settlement Problems for functionalism:  Problems for functionalism Evidence about the shape, size and structure of families before industrialisation Evidence about the continuing strength of extended family ties Recent shifts to more diverse family forms Where do gender roles come from ? 2 Feminist narratives:  2 Feminist narratives The mother-housewife role, the primary role for women, is based on a series of myths: that all women need to be mothers that all children need their mothers Radical feminists: nuclear family is a site of patriarchy and oppression Socialist feminists: nuclear family is a site for the reproduction of capitalism; unpaid domestic labour is crucial to the reproduction of capitalism New focus on problems of domestic violence and child abuse inside families Feminism and the role of the state:  Feminism and the role of the state Male breadwinner role privileged the roles of men Women’s domestic roles were seen as natural Problems inside the family were seen as ‘private’ Feminism challenged the role of the state by attacking both the male breadwinner model of welfare and the public/private boundary Problems for feminism:  Problems for feminism Does it take enough notice of differences among women ? (class, age, ethnicity …) ‘Feminism’ … “I’ll tell you what I want what I really want … I want to zig-a zig” what happened to feminism in the 1990s ? 3 New Right narrative:  3 New Right narrative Picks up where functionalism left off ……… …… changes in the family have led to all kinds of personal and social problems ……………….. which are both made possible by ‘welfare dependency’ The New Right policy prescription:  The New Right policy prescription Sees problems in the family as the cause of most social problems, especially criminality, immorality and welfare dependency. Stresses the need to restore ‘family values’ and prevent the ‘breakdown of the family’ … the idea of ‘problem’ or ‘weak’ families’ 4 Giddens’ narrative:  4 Giddens’ narrative Sex and reproduction have been divorced Plastic sexuality and new forms of intimacy have emerged The family has been democratised Slide17:  A. Giddens (1998) The Third Way Problems for Giddens:  Problems for Giddens too optimistic ? a liberal dream ? continuing forms of violence and abuse ? continuing patterns of gender inequality ? Assessing New Labour:  Assessing New Labour All four narratives can be found in New Labour’s policies for ‘stronger families’ as the route to social inclusion and integration All four narratives focus on changes in the family, which fits with New Labour’s wider ‘discourse of change’ All four narratives pull policy in different directions, depending on how they see the ‘problem’ of the family’ This creates a set of tensions in which family life is lived out Tensions in New Labour’s family policies:  Tensions in New Labour’s family policies Shift from ‘male breadwinner’ model of family to ‘adult worker’ model V ‘work-life balance’ Slide22:  NEEDS Tensions 2:  Tensions 2 Shift from family as an object/site of social policy intervention to family as an instrument of social policy V new forms of personal and sexual freedom Slide25:  POWER Tensions 3:  Tensions 3 Shift from universal to more selective and conditional forms of welfare V ‘opportunities for all’ Slide28:  THE ROLE OF THE STATE

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