GCE Sociology Revision (AQA)- Unit 1 Social Policy and the Family (6)

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For AQA GCE Sociology Unit 1 Chapter 1 Revision. Print out as a handout, it is a good way to revise. Application, Interpretation and Analysis tips are also included. All derived from the AS Sociology Revision Guide. Good luck!!!

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GCE Sociology Revision (AQA)- Unit 1 Social Policy and the Family (6)

  1. 1. Unit 1: Families and Households (6) Social Policy and the Family
  2. 2. Social Policy and the Family (Intro) • Social policies: are the measures taken by state bodies such as schools and welfare agencies • They are usually based on laws introduced by government • Laws and policies can have both direct and indirect effects on the family: 1. Direct effects 2. Indirect effect
  3. 3. 1. Direct effects • Some policies are aimed specifically at family life – e.g. laws on marriage, divorce, child protection, contraception and abortion
  4. 4. 2. Indirect effects • Policies on other social or economic issues also affect the family – • E.g. Compulsory schooling provides childcare for working parents but also keeps children dependent financially for longer
  5. 5. Application • In essays on policy, you need to give examples of different policies and how they affect family life – so learn a range of them
  6. 6. Perspectives on policy and the family Different perspectives have different views on the relationship between social policy and the family
  7. 7. Functionalism • Functionalists see society based on value consensus • The state acts in the interests of the whole of society and its policies benefit everyone • Policies HELP the family to perform its functions – socialising children, caring for the welfare of its members etc. • There is a ‘march of progress’ – policies are gradually improving family life; e.g. the welfare state enables families to look after their members better, through access to the NHS etc.
  8. 8. Evaluation • Functionalism assumes policies benefit everyone, but feminists argue they benefit only men • It also assumes policies make family better, but they can also make it worse, e.g. cutting benefits to poor families
  9. 9. The New Right • The New Right is a conservative political perspective that opposes state intervention in family life • It has a major influence on social policy It sees the traditional nuclear family as ‘natural’ and based on a biological division of labour between male breadwinner and female nurturer If parents perform these roles properly, the family will be self-reliant, able to socialise children effectively and to care for its members It opposes family diversity and sees lone-parent and same-sex families as damaging to children
  10. 10. cont. The New Right • THE PROBLEM: • The New Right criticise many welfare policies for undermining the family’s self-reliance by proving generous benefits, e.g. to lone parent families  This results in a ‘DEPENDENCY CULTURE’ where individuals depend on the state to support their families
  11. 11. Murray (1984): ‘Perverse incentives’ Murray (a New Right thinker): sees benefits as ‘PERVERSE INCENTIVES’ rewarding irresponsible behaviour – • E.g. If the state provides benefits to lone- parent families
  12. 12. cont. The New Right • THE SOLUTION: • The New Right favour cutting welfare spending, especially universal benefits • This will give fathers more incentive to provide for their families • Unlike functionalists, who sees policies benefiting the family, the New Right believe that the less families depend on the state, the better
  13. 13. Evaluation • Feminists criticise New Right views as an attempt to justify the patriarchal nuclear family that oppresses women • They argue that the nuclear family is NOT ‘natural’ but socially constructed
  14. 14. The New Labour • New Labour is a political perspective • LIKE the New Right, it favours the traditional family as usually the best place to raise children, and prefer means-tested benefits targeted at the poor rather than universal benefits • However, UNLIKE the New Right: It is more accepting of family diversity – - E.g. it introduced the Civil Partnership Act and legislation to allow co-habiting couples to adopt It believes some policies can improve family life - E.g. extra benefits for poor families
  15. 15. Analysis • You can score analysis marks by showing the similarities and/or differences between different theories
  16. 16. Feminism • Feminist is a conflict perspective • It see society based on a conflict of interests between men and women • Society is patriarchal – male dominated  Social policies often shape or define family life in ways that benefit men and maintain patriarchy, disadvantaging women and maintaining their subordination  Land (1978) argues that policies often assume the patriarchal family to be the norm • As a result, policies act as a self-fulfilling prophecy, actually helping to reproduce this family type • For example, maternity leave is much longer than paternity leave, reinforcing women’s responsibility for childcare
  17. 17. Evaluation • NOT ALL policies maintain patriarchy – • E.g. women’s refuges, laws against rape in marriage • In Sweden, policies treat women as individuals, NOT dependants
  18. 18. Marxism • Marxism is a conflict perspective • It sees society as divided into two classes, in which the capitalist class exploit the working class by paying them less than the value of what they produce • All social institutions – including policies – serve the interests of capitalism, e.g. the low levels of benefits for the old maintains on the cheap those who can no longer be used to produce profits
  19. 19. cont. Marxism • Policies affecting families often result from the needs of capitalism, for example: • IN World War 2, women were needed as a reserve army of labour and so the government set up nurseries to enable them to work • AFTER the War, women were no longer needed and the nurseries were closed, forcing them back into the housewife role and dependence on their husbands  This shows how policies serve the needs of capitalism and how this may affect families
  20. 20. Interpretation • In essays on how policies affect the family, you need to discuss them in the context of different perspectives

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