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Political responses to changing definitions of families Lennart Nygren Department of Social Work, Umeå University.

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Presentation on theme: "Political responses to changing definitions of families Lennart Nygren Department of Social Work, Umeå University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Political responses to changing definitions of families Lennart Nygren Department of Social Work, Umeå University

2 Overview of lecture What do we mean by family? Family diversification The family-state relationship Family policy How policy influences family changes How policy reacts to family changes 2

3 Why the interest in family Changes in family structures create demands on policies Policies affect families Family is still (?) a fundamental institution eg. the Think Family approach in UK 3

4 What do you mean by family? ? 4

5 Definitions of family Murdoch (1949): common residence, economic co- operation, reproduction and a socially approved sexual relationship. Parsons (1956): a social subsystem that contributes to the overall efficiency in society: co-residence, marriage bond, raising of legitimate children, a single (male) bread-winner role, and sharing of income. 5

6 Changes of family definitions… The nuclear family as the norm vs. the postmodern family and other constructions. Feminist critique: issues of power, patriarchy, inequalities, intersectionality, inclusion of diverse relationships, not always suggesting the use of family as label. 6

7 Family diversity – many possible ways to categorise: 7 Nuclear family Extended family/multigenerational Unmarried cohabitation Lone parenthood Reconstituted families LGBTQ-families One-person households Living Apart Together (LAT) Transnational and commuting families

8 8 Changing family structures Recommended reading: Research on Families and Family policies in Europe State of the Art Final Report ( , published ) Edited by Marjo Kuronen Family Research Centre, University of Jyväskylä The following three charts are form the above publication

9 Share of family-types in the EU27 countries (2007)

10 Figure 2: Average age of women at first marriage, , by country

11 Divorce rates (2008), Eurostat

12 Share of re-marriages of divorcés as the percentage of all marriages in European countries (1960 &2006)

13 What is family for politicians? Fundamental definition: Should we talk about families or households? Dilemmas in censuses: - shift in use of terms such as married vs. cohabiting and head of household vs. reference person. - family is not always related to housing unit - how to deal with homeless? - how to include children living under the same roof as parent(s) and are >18 yrs? 13

14 A policy dilemma– how to measure? Unmarried cohabitation Extramarital births Lone parenthood Reconstituted families One-person housheolds, students? elderly? Multigenerational households/extended families 14

15 The family-state relationship What is your idea about the role of the state in relation to families? ? 15

16 The role of the state vs. Family (Kaufmann, 2000) Institutional (preserve the family institution, control) Demographic (population, reduction of abortions) Economic (human capital, work force through child care etc.) Social political (compensate caring costs, fighting poverty) Gender equality (reduction of disadvantages, equality rights) Childrens welfare (support, protection, socialisation) 16

17 Family policy cornerstones A. Regulation - family laws (adoption, divorces, child support…) - work related (rights to leaves) - equality (equal opportunities) 17

18 Cornerstones, contd B. Information - family support - performance indicators - campaigns (health, socialisation) 18

19 Cornerstones, contd C. Financing, taxing for in kind and cash benefits - child care - parental leave - child and family allowances - social insurances - taxation schemes - housing subsidies and allowances 19

20 Family policies: de-familisation, familisation or re-familisation De-familisation is the degree to which households welfare and caring responsibilities are relaxed either via welfare state provision or via market provision Esping-Andersen (1999) with ref to Lister (1994) 20

21 Four types of familialism Explicit familialism Optional familialism Implicit familialism De-familialism Care vs cost de-familisation (Leitner, 2003, Michon 2008) 21

22 22 Source: Hantrais, L. (2004) Family policy matters, p. 200.

23 Attitudes to state intervention in family life, examples France: strong support for state to deliver responsive and proactive policies. Nordic countries: undisputed right to intervene into private lives. UK: protection is ok, most other interventions are not. Germany: low support especially for intrusive and interfering policies Italy, Greece: profound distrust Source: Hantrais, survey

24 Fertility and female employment rates Total fertility rateFemale employment rate Sweden Nord. countr. mean Belgium Greece Netherlands Portugal OECD, mean From Gupta et al Rev Econ Houshold 6:65-88

25 But - attitudes also vary in relation to different policies Avoiding population decline: often controversial policies Support to parents; from medals to cash benefits Regulations of contraceptives, abortion, assisted reproduction, surrogate motherhood, euthanasia Immigration Eligibility for all family types? Ageing and retirement 25

26 Welfare regimes based on degree of de- familisation (rather than de- commodofication), Kurhonen et al. 1. The Nordic model - protestant/secular/left wing - individuals rather than families - gender equality - no mention of family in constitution - equalisation of marriage and cohabitation - close relationship NGOs - government 26

27 Welfare regimes based on de-familisation (rather than de-commodofication), Kurhonen et al. 2. Continental - catholic, subsidiarity - male breadwinner/female carer - family policies explicit (F, B) - constitution: protection of families - protection in focus - distance NGOs - Government 27

28 Welfare regimes based on de-familisation (rather than de-commodofication), Kurhonen et al. 3. Anglo-american (sic!) - UK, IRL, Malta - weak state, needs oriented, market oriented - familialistic - constitution: protection of family; specific ministry, - relation NGO to government rel weak 28

29 Welfare regimes based on de-familisation (rather than de-commodofication), Kurhonen et al. 4. Mediterranean - catholic - male breadwinner/female carer - mutual obligation for extended family - constitution: protects families - subsidiarity local variations - low levels in allowances 29

30 Welfare regimes based on de-familisation (rather than de-commodofication), Kurhonen et al. 5. Post-socialist - re-familisation - some: family protection mentioned in constitution - extended family obligations - no coherent family policy - relation NGO-government weak due to both catholic and communist values 30

31 Table 1. Same-sex unions policy in Western Europe by policy type and date of adoption. Source: adapted from Wintemute (2005) and Kollman (2007).

32 Family policy family changes Increased (female) labour supply and a mostly female labour market/care market Fertility rates? Gender equality? Are the scandinavian welfare states women-friendly and/or family- friendly? 32

33 Family changes family policy De-institutionalisation of families provokes religious/traditional values inherent in family policy: more unmarried couples, more divorces, stepparents, new family forms. Dealing with rights of alternative family relationships: same-sex couples, LATs, transnational families, reconstituted families etc. Postponing childbirth and fewer children: a serious demographic problem 33

34 To discuss In what ways are family policies in your countries a) obstacles to, b) facilitators of inclusion/integration of alternative families? In what ways is family policy a hinder or a facilitator in relation to gender equality in your countries? 34

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