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The 'Hard Core' of Family Policy: the Child. Analysis of the French Case

Michel Messu

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.