Edited by Sheila Shaver
Family life has changed dramatically over the past several decades in most developed western countries. There have been substantial changes in the cultural meaning of marriage and family, gender roles, the demographic trends and transitions that make up the family life course and policy and legislative frameworks that govern family life. The role of policy and government in family life is extensive and pervasive. Most countries across the world have policies and legal structures in place that regulate relationships between intimate partners and their children. The emergence and persistence of more diverse family structures and the restructuring of the family life course at the societal level have thrown up significant challenges for governments and social policy. Both historically and in contemporary times, these policies often work in gendered ways that shape the roles and entitlements that men and women can expect when relationships are formed and dissolved. Few contemporary policies explicitly discriminate against men or women but, in practice, they continue to have gendered outcomes in part owing to the gendered structures of family life. In this chapter we present a synthesis of recent, international research in five key areas of family policy.
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