Changing Family Dynamics and Demographic Evolution

Changing Family Dynamics and Demographic Evolution

The Family Kaleidoscope

Edited by Dimitri Mortelmans, Koenraad Matthijs, Elisabeth Alofs and Barbara Segaert

Whether considered from an American or a European perspective, the past four decades have seen family life become increasingly complex. Changing Family Dynamics and Demographic Evolution examines the various stages of change through the image of a kaleidoscope, providing new insights into the field of family dynamics and diversity.

Chapter 10: Conflicting family interests: a challenge for family policy

Jacqueline Scott

Subjects: social policy and sociology, family and gender policy


This chapter has three aims: the first is to examine the social processes that underpin children’s experience of families; the second is to investigate how transitions to parenthood exacerbate gender inequalities; and the third is to explore how different approaches concerning parental leave and childcare can help to inform policies concerned with work–family balance in Europe. The overarching goal is to consider the conflicting family interests that become apparent in considering intergenerational and intergender perspectives on partnerships and parenting. This area of family research is rife with ideologies, which often shape the questions asked and the answers found. It is no surprise therefore that there is little consensus about the effects for children of family disruption, family diversity, changing work–family balance, and different cultures of care. In order to get a good evidence base to inform family policy, policy objectives must be made explicit. Policy makers face a minefield of competing family and societal interests in tackling issues such as childcare, child poverty, parental leave and work–family balance. The chapter gives examples of how such conflicting interests affect partnerships and parenting and considers the diverse consequences for children’s lives and gender equality.

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