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The Supportive StateFamilies, Government, and America's Political Ideals$
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Maxine Eichner

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195343212

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195343212.001.0001

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The Family-State Relationship in Contemporary Political Theory and Public Policy

The Family-State Relationship in Contemporary Political Theory and Public Policy

(p.17) CHAPTER 1 The Family-State Relationship in Contemporary Political Theory and Public Policy
The Supportive State

Maxine Eichner (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers the ideological stumbling blocks that have prevented an adequate conceptualization of the family–state relationship in both American theory and public policy. The first part uses the work of John Rawls to consider the absence of families in contemporary liberal theory, and to explore the assumptions in this theory that are responsible for this elision. The second part demonstrates that many of these same assumptions permeate both law and public policy. To illustrate this, the chapter considers the way that the intersection between work-and-family is constructed in United States' law. Although there is often considerable distance between dominant tenets of political theory in the academy and the public policy that is actually enacted, the chapter shows that there is considerable overlap between them when it comes to work–family law. These tenets, it argues, create a problematic platform on which to construct an adequate family-state relationship.

Keywords:   John Rawls, liberalism, families, caretaking, dependency, parental leave, work, sex equality, feminism, state

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