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These articles may be cited using the following information: Names, first names of author(s), title of article, year of publication
The Quebec "Les enfants au cœur de nos choix" approach (family policy) – a bold but winning gamble
Renée B. Dandurand
Research Framework: After establishing an initial family policy (with pro-birth undertones) in 1988, Quebec changed direction in 1997 by enacting new child-focused measures, i.e. Les enfants au cœur de nos choix. By offering family allowances, low-cost school child care services and the promise of a better parental insurance plan, the new policy pursued three objectives: promoting early childhood development and equal opportunities, facilitating a work-family balance and ensuring increased aid to low-income families. In 1997 the policy surprised many, given the substantial budget deficit of the time. The government was shifting from a policy based on population growth to a generous socio-democratic strategy.
Objectives: After presenting the historical context that gave rise to the implementation of an explicit family policy in Quebec, this article explains the demographic, political and economic circumstances in play prior to the adoption of the new child-focused policy.
Methodology: The analysis of the Quebec family policy presented in this article is largely based on the author’s observations and her analysis of this policy in her career.
Results: The analysis reveals that change in family policy to be a bold gamble, one that has no equivalent in North America.
Conclusions: Close examination of various studies analyzing the impacts of the policy suggests that the gamble can be considered to have been a success, one that has led to significant advances for women.
Contribution: This article provides a socio-historical reflection on the Quebec family policy and explains the context – demographic, political and economic – in which it was made and during the 1990s, its transition from a natalist policy to a socio-democratic policy that collectivizes reproductive work with young children. In addition, it provides an interpretation of the meaning and scope of this policy.
The "hard core" of family policy: analysis of the French case
Research Framework: The article offers an overall thinking on French family policy, its history, discourses, objectives and theoretical interpretations.
Objectives: It seeks to establish that a reading from its contemporary point of departure reveals that French family policy has put children, and not primarily the family, at the center of its concerns.
Methodology: A secondary analysis of major texts dealing with this family policy, as well as a synthesis of the author’s work, provide the methodological substrate adopted for this text. A shift in analytical focus and a renewed understanding of the wide range of socio-ideological debates and public policies support the overall approach.
Results: It emerges that the historical and discursive variation of French family policy is, more or less explicitly, based on one invariant: the child. This is because the child presides over a conception of the child as a good of the nation, at the level of the republican state that post-revolutionary France has adopted. The family thus acts by delegation, and the State takes its place in case of failure or need.
Conclusions: Contributing to the satisfaction of the needs of the child in his or her family is not only the initial objective of family policies but also their current objective.
Contribution: It is therefore to the re-reading of French family policy, in the light of the social valorization of the child proclaimed by many countries, that the article commits.
Family solidarities questioned by gender. Ethnographic cases in a village of southern Chiapas (Mexico)
Research Framework: This paper documents the diversity of family solidarities experienced by men and women, coffee producers in the region of Soconusco, in southern Chiapas (Mexico). They belong to a generation born around 1950 who lived two distinct historical moments. First, socialization structured around the agrarian production and the ejido, which imposed some obligations and built specific gender identities. Then, since the 90s, in a new step of her family life course, this generation faces de-agrarianization process of the labor market and state intervention.
Objectives: The central question that guided the writing of this paper is: how family solidarities can explain the diversity of men and women trajectories in this village?
Methodology: The investigation is based on a one-year ethnographic survey done in El Paraíso village and, to be more precise, on eight family genealogies and about twenty life stories. The paper looks into two ethnographic cases belonging to this qualitative database.
Results: The article reveals the weight of gender in the family solidarities because men and women do not inherit the same resources and obligations within families. Family solidarity takes different forms and outlines according to the resources (financial, relational, land) and to the sociodemographic characteristics of everyone (as the gender or the place among siblings).
Conclusions: The observation of the different forms of family solidarity has allowed us to understand the male and female ways to make family and the issues in terms of gender identity in this village of Mexico’s southern border. Family solidarities allow dealing with the new labour markets and the new forms of public intervention in rural areas in a differentiated and unequal way.
Contribution: The article has three interests. It reveals the voices of a generation who now are struggling to live exclusively from agricultural labour, while their parents benefited from land reform and industrial capitalism advantageous for small-scale peasant agriculture. The analysis also shows how family solidarity is deeply determined by the gender system. Finally, the text is useful beyond this specific research, for the general reflection on mutual family assistance and the methodological tools for appreciate it.