Chapter

Families, individuals and the state

Jane Lewis

in Making social policy work

Published by Policy Press

Published in print October 2007 | ISBN: 9781861349583
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447302742 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/policypress/9781861349583.003.0004
Families, individuals and the state

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This chapter examines why family issues are so hard for policy makers. It discusses how the increasing pluralism of family form and function poses challenges for state intervention. This is both directly, in terms of family dealings with government officials, and indirectly, via the assumptions that policy makers make, embedded implicitly or explicitly in policies to deliver cash and services. It looks at how recent policy in the UK has ‘muddled through’ these developments, examining in particular the changes in policy towards the balance between work and family life since 1997. It is argued that types of policy intervention that work with the grain of family change are likely to be more successful than those that work against that grain or indeed try to reverse the changes themselves. State interventions cannot be based on assumptions about family form and function that are too far from the reality of people's own ideas, but have to cope not just with the increasing diversity of these ideas, but also the conflicts that may often exist between family members and different types of family.

Keywords: family; social policy; policy makers; pluralism; state intervention

Chapter.  10682 words. 

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