Examine the ways in which social policies and laws may influence families and households (24 marks)
Social policies are plans and/or actions set out by the government which will affect a family in one way or another. Depending on the social policy which is in place, this new action or law will either have a direct effect on the family, for example; in 1969 the ‘Divorce reform act’ was introduced making it legal for married couples to divorce. Before this divorce was non-heard of, and now this new law underestimated the whole idea of marriage and allowed couples to think that marriage was not for life. This divorce law had a direct effect on the family because the traditional nuclear family was no longer the norm within society; this new law allowed new and more family diversity to become known and universal. Other social policies will have an indirect affect on the family for example; in 1870 the Fosters Act ‘compulsory education’ was introduced for all children. This law had an indirect effect on the family as the family had to follow this law which was set out by the government making families behave in certain ways; sending their children to school was a must. It is argued that social policies are adapted in order to encourage people to live within certain types of households and therefore it discourages other types of households. Feminists say that social policies favour the traditional nuclear family. Sociologist Allan (1985) says that policies are in favour for gender roles and generational relations within the family. Daphine Johnson, 1982, states that the compulsory education act encourages the nuclear family due to the organization of schools. The school hours, roughly around 9am – 3pm, discourages single parent families and dual worker families as these hours make it hard for the parents to deal with the employer’s needs and wants whilst combining childcare needs too. Therefore the compulsory education act introduced in 1870 was in favour of the...
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