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Extra info for Anti-Oppressive Social Work Theory and Practice
In projecting their demands within familialist arrangements, unmarried and same sex couples are lending heterosexual institutions a new lease of life and strengthening their legitimacy. Rooting their definition of the problem and its solution within hegemonic discourses also carries with it the danger of undermining some of the struggles for equality that women within heterosexual unions have undertaken, for example the goal of disaggregating resources within the ‘family’ unit. As feminists such as Pahl (1985) have demonstrated, familialist relations disguise an unequal distribution of power and resources within intimate heterosexual married relationships, and they cover up the inadequacy of the ‘family wage’ in catering for the needs of all its members.
Traditionalist discourses are also problematic with regards to children’s rights (Franklin and Franklin, 1996) for the familialist arrangements which disadvantage them are shaped in terms that are adultist, that is, these empower adults and privilege their views over those of children (Dominelli, 1989, 1999). Additionally, familialist approaches discourage discussions about social solidarities that cut across familial bonds, such as those signified by the broader community taking responsibility for the well-being of each dependent member within its borders – an argument with particular relevance to children.
In these discourses, women are usually assumed to be providing free care within the framework of dependent familial relations in which heterosexual marriage is a key institution. Both positions ignore adult women’s needs for time for themselves and the right to develop their own skills and talents through waged careers if this is what they wish. Sponsored immigrants have also been subjected to depending on extended families for meeting their welfare needs as part of their conditions of entry into Western countries such as Britain, Canada and the United States (see Gordon and Newnham, 1985).
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