This essay will use the McPhail family case study. The essay will look at the Functionalism and Feminism theory in relation to the case study family and show the effects of two sociological perspectives and there importance in assisting the social care worker to understand the family. The essay will also look at social policy on how it is developed and he issues of private and public issues. This will include how four sectors of social care will aid the case study family and how these organisations are funded. In today’s society, there are many different family structures and these structures are interpreted differently depending on the individual. There are five main ‘types’ of family structures and these can change throughout the life span of the family. In the case of the McPhail family, their family structure can be ‘labelled’ differently depending on when the family is viewed.
The McPhail family consists of a grandparent John (68), parents John (42) and Betty (42) and their children Billy (25), Michael (23), Sandy (20), Lisa (15) and Charlene (12). This according to the family structure types this family would fall under the heading of ‘Extended’ family due to grandparent John being cared for by the family. But this can change or take on multiple family types. For example, Parent John’s work pattern, who works away from home with his two eldest sons. So using structure types John would become a ‘Lone Parent’ of his sons that are with him and this could also be applied to Betty with the remaining children in her care.
There is also when grandparent John goes into respite, the family structure becomes a ‘Nuclear’ family. This shows that in today’s society there is no longer a ‘normal’ family structure and with changes within the family is no longer stable. Their roles in their society are deemed different from ‘normal’ society. As the John (42) and his two eldest sons are the workers of the family, they are known as the providers, like a lot of families the males of the family will go out to work. This leaves Betty (42) as the carer of the family that brings up the children and nurturing their traditional norms and values on the children. But there is a difference which in today’s society is deemed different and that is that Betty although labelled the ‘Homemaker’ has no say on the financial decisions of the family, which is the responsibility of John (42).
In society today this is not so common within families, as typically both parents have the financial obligations to the family unit. And within the travelling community money is not spoken about to others and with the women of the family. The use of sociological perspectives can also explain the workings of this family within society. In the case of the McPhail family there are two of the sociological theories that fit this family. The first being Functionalism Theory, which this theory sees society as a system with a set of interconnected parts that together work to provide for the family needs. According to Functionalists, the family is an important positive role in developing the next generation. The McPhail family parents nurture the children by entrusting their norms and values, which according to Functionalists is how the family should work but only if the gypsy society was the dominant society.
As they are not and our society is seen as the ‘correct’ society then this family is now deemed as ‘Dysfunctional’ which the gypsies/ travellers community are seen as different and do not follow the norms, values and roles of our society but for this family their norms and values have been passed down through generation to generation and are seen as ‘normal’ within the gypsie society. The McPhail’s have strict cultural values that of the gypsy community are very strong and not always seen as acceptable in today’s society. This sociological perspective shows how their behaviour, experiences and life chances are affected. The travelling community are strict on family unit and moving around the country has an effect on the life chances, through disrupted education, socialisation out with the family unit and behaviours expected by the non-travelling community.
For example the males of the family are taught trades by their fathers and male relatives, and sent out to gain employment to provide for their family but without the academic certification this proves to hinder their life chances. The other of the sociological perspectives is Feminist Theory. For example the females of a traditional gypsy family are educated to be homemakers and thus academic education is not an essential requirement and usually females leave school at fifteen/sixteen, marry young. This highlights that the women of the travelling communities have less standing than men in their community as they are seen as only ‘homemakers’. This does not allow women to travel and experience other cultures and life situations such as living alone or sharing with non family.
Lack of education also causes limitations on working careers though this is not deemed acceptable but maybe essential for the family to survive. This also has a substantial affect on the behaviour of the women in the travelling communities by asserting dominance of other women within their community. This has an effect on their behaviour, experiences and life chances for both the males and females of the travelling community. Their behaviour is different dependent on their gender, for example the males are more dominant over the females and the females are to follow strict rules on how to ‘behave’ with and to men and what are expected of them as wives and homemakers. Although this theory allows the social care worker to understand how the McPhail family operates.
It also emphasises gender based differences that woman is the nurturer and the man is the provider/breadwinner. This creates generations of sexual inequality. And maintains male power throughout adult society, As a social care worker, both these perspectives can provide useful insight as to how the McPhail family operates but also provides background information for assisting them to settle into a society that in many ways is different to the society they have been brought up in. For a social care worker having a clear understanding of the functional/dysfunctional theory can allow them to sensitive to the needs of the family. For example, the education of the younger children.
Putting them into the correct school that has the provisions to assist with the lack of education that these children have had due to the continual movement of the family. Placing them into a school that has educational support unit to assist them in catching up with the mainstream classes. These units will also assist with the behavioural issues that the children have when interacting with teachers and other children within the school. This also has an effect on where the family is housed, as they will need to be close enough for this type of school.
Social policies are a set of rules, laws or legislation that governs social issues within society and are also set out to resolve these issues. Social policy has a major impact on the everyday lives of individuals by controlling certain behaviours and situations. Social policy is usually born from a private issue that is common to many individuals within society and when noticed by the government through politicians or people with power they then become a public issue which when it becomes public can be easier to solve and policies are put into place to resolve the issues. There are many different factors or influences that can lead to the development of a social policy, and they can also be shaped by the influence of European, National and local government. For example, economics of the nation has a major influence on social policy. This has for Scotland provided free prescriptions.
This came about when in the 1950’s the British government introduced prescription charges which created millions of pounds that the government used to fund statutory agencies but when the Scotland re-formed its government, the prescription charges where reduced and finally abolished in 2010, thus enabling families on a low income to receive medication otherwise unavailable to them due to the prescription charges. Another example of influences that form social policies is demographics. Looking at the national census, it shows that the growing population and the fact the people are living longer due to the advances in medical science and positive live changes of individuals. But looking mainly at the elderly population, in previous years, the elderly died younger due to lack of income to support them with medication and care but with changes in legislation influence by national and European government has provided free care and benefits.
This was done by establishing the Community Care and Health (Scotland) Act 2002, which provides free nursing and personal care with benefits to the elderly population. There is also the influence of the media. As society has progressed with technology so has the availability of information through media coverage. Individuals are finding out more on what the issues of the individuals are and how they can affect them. The media uses many different means of influencing the country but the main channels are television, internet, radio and newspapers. By broadcasting issues of concern, this raises public interest and can insight policies to be made to combat these issues. For example the Patients Rights (Scotland) Act 2011, this came about after a news report on the waiting times of local hospitals where publish.
This information became public knowledge on a wider scale and got the people that have an influential say demanding for action to be taken. Which for this issue, it has had a beneficial effect but there are issues that may not such as, if a sex offenders details are available to the public. This has a domino effect as these issues change public opinion on matters of care and families, which is another influence on how social policies are created. Public opinions are brought to the attention of the government by ‘pressure groups’ or ‘lobby groups’. For example MIND is a charitable organisation that campaigns the government to makes changes to legislation that creates awareness and better rights for individuals with mental health issues.
This can be seen through their campaign of the Benefits and Welfare Reform. MIND are campaigning to protect individuals on benefits with mental health issues and their campaign is to provide better assessment tools, changes to Disability Living Allowance and the cut backs, creating more user friendly language when applying for benefits and changing the contents of the new Work Programmes that are being set out by the government. Social policy and the influences that create our policies have an effect on all everyday families and in the case of the McPhail family, their private issue of discrimination of their family by the people living around them has came to the attention of the local authority. The Anti-Social Behaviour etc (Scotland) Act 2003, this act protects the McPhail family through their beliefs and way of life.
This acts aim is to protect the family and allows the local authority and local police to intervene on their behalf to stop the issues that are causing them alarm or distress. This can cause social exclusion. Most individuals have a social support network, but for the McPhail family this does not seem to be the case. There are organisations that provide services to assist the McPhail family with the daily living in a community that is unfamiliar to them. These organisations are provided by four main sectors. Firstly there is the statutory sector, which in the case of the McPhail family provides assistance with housing for the family and home care for both Betty (42) and Jacob (68).
This sector is funded by the government and provided by the local authority. There is the voluntary sector such as Cornerstone which can provide support to Jacob (68) and the family coming to terms with his terminal illness. This organisation is funded by private donation, fundraising events and can also be funded through government grants. There is also the private sector with agencies such The Richmond Fellowship that provides services such as care (personal care or waking night care) and support (days out and shopping trips) but this service comes at a cost to the individuals as this service is paid for by the client. Finally there is the unpaid or informal carer, which in the case of the McPhail family is Betty (42) who looks after Jacob (68) and provides all his care needs when there is no assistance from the local authority or any other care organisation. This is generally unpaid and considered within their family as Betty’s duty.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 30 September 2016
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