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Policy and programme recommendations

Need to alleviate poverty
Need to support local family policy initiatives
Assessment, cultural renewal, and policy formation
Negative effects of existing policy structures
New social realities
Public familism
Confusion over the roles of organized religion, the government, non-governmental organizations, and the family
Slowing, speeding, or adjusting cultural change
Seeking answers in post-modern industrial conditions and Asian examples
Specific recommendations

The recommendations in this chapter have the aim of improving family social health to strengthen the impact of high-quality family functioning on children and on national and global development. In most cases, this effort occurs in the context of other goals for vulnerable family members, such as child development, legal reform, micro-enterprise development, and agricultural production.

With respect to policy, we recommend that efforts to strengthen the family be built into different domains as diverse as income tax and pension regulations; inheritance law; industrial regulatory laws; education, health and agricultural policy; food subsidies; and other social entitlements for the poor.

In the design of services and interventions, we urge the continuing process of integrating vertical services into innovative child development programmes that strengthen families and benefit children at the primary care or grass-roots level.

Need to alleviate poverty

Family social health cannot be maintained below a certain resource threshold. Extreme poverty undermines each of its dimensions: management, care, beliefs/rules/goals, values, and boundary maintenance.

To strengthen family life, programmes that relieve poverty must also seek to develop the potential of families as an important force for promoting development. The household must be viewed as an "economic source" rather than as an "economic sink" in social and economic policy (Edwards 1979).

Need to support local family policy initiatives

Opinion leaders in developing countries need first to engage in assessment and analysis of the conditions of family life. They need to do this work within designated family initiatives and agencies analogous to AID's Family in Development initiative or to the US Government's Administration for Children, Youth, and Families (ACYF). As in industrialized countries, the seminal research and intellectual creativity supporting these activities must come primarily from universities.

Policy on the family is an extremely private matter from a cultural perspective. Almost by definition, it cannot be set by outside experts, regardless of their credentials in anthropology, law, or any number of other fields; it must be determined by local scholars, and cultural and legal authorities. For adequate policy formulation and national leadership, these must be both men and women of intellectual stature, with resources to formulate concepts, conduct research, and synthesize findings on the relevant issues. They must be enabled to provide the voices of leadership that guide their governments.

Although considerable development assistance has gone towards empowering the rural poor and urban underclasses through community development activities, external assistance for members of the Úlite to formulate public policy has sometimes been considered unnecessary. In theory, Úlite people hold the purse and the power themselves; in practice, those who control their countries' wealth are not the intellectuals who operate its policy institutes, write textbooks, or direct research. In recent years, structural adjustment policies have tended, in the name of cost savings, to reduce third world scholars, their institutions of higher learning, and government technical agencies to levels of destitution at which they no longer can fulfil their mission to provide the intellectual leadership for the formulation of national policy and programmes. In Nigeria, for example, 600 per cent inflation in recent years has not been counterbalanced by increases in the salaries of university professors. The failure of third world intellectuals to perform under impossible working conditions may be taken as further evidence of their dispensability.

Assessment, cultural renewal, and policy formation

A study by the United Nations (1987) indicates that very few governments have based their family policies and programmes on a clear understanding of the problems of local families. The laws adopted in newly emerging states often have been taken from the laws of previous European and other colonial powers, or other sources not sensitively attuned to actual needs. Yet family laws, and formal and traditional social entitlements, have profound effects on family and individual welfare (Folbre 1992).

Examination of the social evolution of child support illustrates the need to review these laws. All traditional family systems enforced paternal support and care for almost all children, as well as the participation of both biological parents together as a family unit in decision-making and care of their offspring. This enforcement often operated through rules that banned procreation outside marriage or assigned all children born of a mother as legal children of that mother's husband.

Where families and religious leaders no longer have the power to legislate these values, many children are unsupported by their fathers, and some are unsupported by either parent. Therefore, most industrialized countries have found that it no longer works to treat the support and socialization of children as a purely private issue. Government must step in to restore these supports through child entitlement policies (Bruce and Lloyd 1992).

According to Bruce and Lloyd (1992), from whom much of this section is adapted, "Who pays for the kids?" should be an explicit and fundamental issue of population and development policy, not a hazy afterthought. Assessment should focus on the conditions of families and the effects of existing laws and social welfare provisions on family functioning. Local scholars should assist governments in developing frameworks for understanding the interaction between families and the process of development. These frameworks should provide the basis for government policy formation on family issues and family-related research. The formulation of action agendas should be a part of this assessment and analysis process.

These agendas must be forward looking and flexible in orientation. According to the United Nations (1986, 7),

Families should be seen not so much as states-of-being but as states-of becoming which are given to an enormous range of flexibility and adaptation not only during the life cycle of the family but also in a process of interaction with technology, values, social structures, etc. Unfortunately, there is not a great deal of literature on the process through which families in developing countries move and the isolated and cumulative effects of the family on development and vice versa.

The formal protection of children in many developing countries is now covered only indirectly under marital policies or in policies largely unknown and unimplemented. Developing countries must come to recognize that child entitlements are not just of sentimental importance, but are vital to long-term national development goals. In a process of cultural renewal, recasting timeless values in modern terms, they must articulate norms, procedures, and laws that entitle children directly to both parents' human and economic resources. Indeed, in most countries, the condition of the next generation's human capital will determine national success or failure in an increasingly unified world labour market. The establishment of child entitlements serves individual equity considerations as well as societal income distribution goals. These entitlements can create a serious counter-pressure to the tendency of gender and parental status to be key determinants of wealth and well-being.

There need to be explicit costs and economic expectations related to having children, and penalties for those who try to leave their responsibilities behind (Folbre 1992). The phrase "every child, a wanted child" should be complemented with the phrase "every child, a costly child." In most countries where child maintenance laws have been effectively implemented, there are dramatic results. In Australia, when child payments were deducted from nonresident father's wages, the proportion of fathers providing support to children went from under 45 per cent to over 70 per cent in 18 months. Where few fathers are absorbed into formal wage labour, the means of extracting child support payments are substantially reduced. A process should be set in place so that those members of the Úlite who guide and make policy are enabled to create these norms and begin to experience their meaning for themselves, thereby participating in the ongoing process of social construction called for in chapter 2.

Negative effects of existing policy structures

Assessment must identify existing negative outcomes of social change and development on families. Both intended and unintended outcomes need to be assessed. Assistance in one area should not be at the cost of impairing other functions of families, who must be seen in their ecological contexts. The types of negative factors to be identified include the following:

1. Persistence of male-dominated inheritance laws, and male access to resources under conditions in which large numbers of women and their children no longer enjoy the protection of male-headed households or receive financial support from husbands and fathers.

2. Negative effects on children that occur when the dissemination of new technologies or resources interferes with traditional child-care practices, school attendance, or food sources.

3. Family allowance programmes that make it necessary for the poorest families to continue to bear more children to obtain adequate resources for survival. One example is food supplementation programmes that provide food only for those families with children under five years of age.

4. Government interventions for children that involve professionals in ways that undermine the parents' capacity to care for their children in the future. This may occur because the professionals hold a negative perception that poor parents lack expertise and that children must be protected against harm from their parents' ignorance. This produces a negative impact on parents' confidence and ability to socialize their children. School curricula that make fun of local cultural "superstitions" are an example. "Policies often assume that families requiring assistance are somehow deficient or weak because of the inadequacies of the families and their members rather than because of structural inadequacies in the society or economy" (United Nations 1987, 43). Bureaucracies that serve their own convenience rather than that of their clients may inadvertently substitute for the family's function and capacity to care for its members, rather than serve them as backups. Hospital care of breast-fed infants without their mothers, so that the mother loses her breast milk and switches to bottle-feeding, is one example.

Unfortunately, some of the neediest families happily relinquish their duties. According to Becker (1992,113), welfare recipients tend to be those least concerned about their children and least willing to help themselves. He proposed helping these families by giving them the "carrot and stick" to induce them to take better care of their children:

Families that look out for the children's interests should get additional payments. For example, benefits might be larger if the parents take children to regular health checkups, if the children have good school attendance records, if parents participate in school programs, or even if children can get good grades and perform well on achievement tests.

New social realities

Assessment and action must consider the policy implications of social changes presented in chapter 2. The effects of modernization on families usually are linked to rapidly changing technologies, shifts to a consumption orientation, and increasing social mobility with an emphasis on increasing individual achievement (Berger and Berger 1984; Dizard and Gadlin 1990). Despite positive impacts on such factors as health, survival, and education, there is a cost in terms of familial bonds. Falling fertility leads to few relatives in the next generation. Unrestrained independence of individuals, according to the United Nations (1987), contributes to the deterioration of family values in which "the young generation hardly believes anymore in values that call for the constitution and the preservation of family units" (United Nations 1987, 10). In the society where everyone is anonymous, many young people do not find security. This anonymity is associated with high levels of criminality, violence, and widespread abuse of alcohol and drugs (United Nations 1987).

As noted earlier, other effects of modernization that have shifted all aspects of the family life cycle include increasing numbers of single-parent families, increasing numbers of women in the labour force, and long lives for the elderly, who have fewer children to support them. The recent resurgence of family rhetoric in political debate is an indicator of the growing concern of national leaders to preserve families. There is no consensus, however, on how to deal with family problems. In the United States the slogan "back to family values" has been attacked by "whose values?" (Newsweek 1992).

Public familism

The concept

Negative changes can be reversed by social policies and programmes that support the dimensions of family social wellness. The caring dimension has been defined by Dizard and Gadlin (1990, 6) under the name of "familism" as the bonds of reciprocal and unconstrained material and emotional support between family members. Part of the task of protecting "familism" is to expand "public familism," defined as the aggregate of policies that help people to sustain their private lives (Dizard and Gadlin 1990, 204). Note that this does not mean that government programmes should replace responsibilities that rightfully should remain within the family, but, rather, they should protect an environment in which the family is able to carry out its functions. As an example, pension funds and social security systems that provide financial support for the elderly should serve to facilitate rather than to replace the emotional support and crisis management provided by their children. The challenge is how to provide these systems in ways that do not diminish long-standing traditions of mutual aid, love, and respect.

"Public familism" also refers to a public spirit of family interconnectedness and mutual responsibility that is able to counterbalance the social isolation associated with the decline of familism. Dizard and Gadlin (1990, 224) conclude,

If we can acknowledge our manifold dependencies, if we can see those dependencies as the links between our private lives and the larger social patterns our private lives constitute, we might then be able to forge a society in which autonomous individuals are capable of consciously shaping their own families and, in doing so, constitute a world in which "caring, sharing, and loving" are broadly incorporated into both public and private lives.

Policy makers must be conscious of the forces at play to be able to engage families in "mending the bridges" when traditional structures and values are eroded before new ones spontaneously fill their place. This mending must be done to maintain cultural continuity and national identity and to serve the goals of economic development.

The limits of public familism

American Public Radio on 15 July 1992 featured the story of a married couple confined to wheelchairs with severe cerebral palsy, a neurological birth defect that forces both partners to use computerized voice-synthesizing machines to speak understandably and that makes them unable to find employment. This couple gave birth to a normal baby girl. The state provides income and nursing care for the couple's personal needs, but has no provision for a round-the-clock nanny to assist them with their child. The rights and obligations of the couple, the state, and the child all can be contested.

In cases where public services are required, structures capable of meeting the personal emotional needs of individuals do not evolve overnight. Most group structures that meet intensely personal needs, such as churches where individual members confess, pray, and witness together, or 12-step programmes that provide anonymous confession and social support, have evolved in the non-governmental sector of public life.

It is doubtful that the socialization and behaviour-control functions of the family can ever be taken over completely by the public domain. Psychiatric in-patient programmes, halfway houses, and other services cannot fully repair inadequate early socialization. Individual conscience develops within the family. Across societies the ultimate transmitters of right and wrong conduct are the parents, as supported by chapters 6 and 7 on Javanese and Yoruba family life. The success of marriage and family life is shaped by parents of the previous and present generations, not by government policy alone. Development of conscience depends upon the quality of parent-child relationships, such as the affection, nurturance, and support that a parent gives the child and the child's identification with the parents (Christiansen 1991). Our Yoruba model (ch. 8) shows that there is a strong reciprocal influence between affectionate and attentive mothering and cooperative personality of the child. The quality of emotional attachment developed in the first year of life determines the capacity for making strong bonds during adult life (Morris 1969). The treatment of children by parents not only is extremely important in its own right but also greatly influences the relations between the younger and the older generations (Drazen 1978).

The task of expanding "public familism" is far from clear. Social recognition of our reciprocal bonds of dependency in the public realm may be an end-point towards which societies of the information era are headed.

Confusion over the roles of organized religion, the government, non-governmental organizations, and the family

The role of organized religion versus secular agencies in reinforcing family values, and the definition of which obligations should remain in the family versus which should be public, are not obvious and may become even less clear in the future.

The role of organized religion

According to conservatives, the abandonment of religion, liberal values of self-indulgence, lax moral standards, and lack of family obligation threaten the conventional family. Dizard and Gadlin (1990) conclude, however, that there is no prospect that the values of the "good old days" will return. W.J. Doherty (personal communication 1992) observes that, in the post-modern information era, individuals are bombarded by the rhetoric and imagery of so many alternate value systems that the words and images of the various religions themselves become relative, and cannot be taken literally. Yet if moral values rooted in religion are the most powerful underpinning to unite the individual, family, and society, the attainment of public familism may be impossible without religion.

Berger and Berger (1984) propose that the earlier fabric of bourgeois society in the United States was characterized by balance, based on religion, between individualism and social responsibility, and between individual liberation and strong communal ties. Secularized "hyper-modernity" has lost this balance to "hyperrationality" and "hyper-individualism" (Berger and Berger 1984, 118). Donohue (quoted in Christiansen 1991, 113) states similarly: "Intoxicated with rights, many Americans have lost interest in traditional concomitant responsibilities."

The role of organized religion in the preservation of the family must differ from country to country. There is no question that social and moral values are deeply rooted in religion. Yet many of these values are progressively reinterpreted in abstract and secular terms and reincorporated into the social sciences and social services in secular societies. A study by Mason (1978) of the cohort of 200 adult children of Christian missionaries serving in China from 1900 to 1949 illustrated the cross-generational transformation of religious beliefs into secular values. Few of these adults, who had spent their childhoods in China, entered church-related careers; most were pursuing social reform movements and social service professions similar to the educational, social welfare, and health-related services provided by the missionary communities of their childhoods. Most of the respondents considered themselves less religious than their parents and most showed a significant shift to liberal religions or to no religion. Secular Jews who no longer follow the strict dietary laws of traditional Judaism are prominent in the scientific nutrition profession in the United States as arbiters of the dietary rules that govern healthful diets.

The values transmitted through social services alone, however, may be too diluted to be compelling. Private and voluntary religious practice also may fail to fill the gap between the strength of values in religious versus secular societies. Many programmes, usually in developed countries, revolve around supports and services including child care, counselling, and addressing problems of individual shortcomings. Judging from the literature, family cohesion is not always as positively correlated with increased availability of services as was generally hoped. What may be the case is that the availability of these services has improved family cohesion by diminishing stress and tension levels against a backdrop of increasingly eroded values, technologies, and lifestyles, which in themselves result in increased levels of stress and tension (United Nations 1987). These observations strengthen the argument for cultural renewal and social construction in the direction of stronger moral or religious values.

Religious revival as part of cultural renewal

In most cases, a strong continuity of religious and cultural values appears to buffer a country against the negative effects of modernization. Therefore, to the extent possible, countries may wish to maintain or enhance the influence of religion on family life. On the negative side, many lives have been lost in wars waged in the name of religion, and burgeoning civil unrest in many parts of the world involves a resurgence of inward-looking isolationist forms of fundamentalism. Fundamentalist religious interpretations that exclude women from public life and educational opportunity cripple the next generation. This occurs because uneducated and secluded mothers cannot prepare their children for competition in modern labour markets. Women whose lives are confined to the home also can hardly be expected to bear only one or two children, when child-bearing is their main source of fulfilment. Therefore, the effects of religious revival on the family depend on the progressive or regressive nature of the values revived.

We believe that there are positive benefits for the family in the religious revival occurring among the younger generation in Indonesia, although this revival may be viewed as a counter-modernization movement. Government policy backs this movement by requiring all private and public schools to teach religious and moral values as part of the core curriculum, from the kindergarten to the university level. The government also preserves national moral values through censorship: forbidding Western-style beauty contests in which the contestants wear bathing suits; rigorously censoring Western movies with regard to explicit sexual activities and violence; and heavily supervising television programmes. For the westerners, this censorship would violate individual rights and civil liberty. Conversely, Western individualistic values are offensive to the communitarian Indonesian culture, for which the balance between individual and community interests is the fundamental value governing daily life. Chapter 6 described in detail how these values influence Javanese society.

Secular approaches

In some countries, secular social values appear to succeed in protecting children without requiring marriage or two-parent families. In Denmark, for example, fathers and stepfathers continue to invest in the child after divorce. Every man who lives with the child is socially bound to stay in contact with that child, whether he is the biological father, mother's friend, or legal stepfather. The pressure of secular public opinion does not allow men to avoid this responsibility (W.J. Doherty 1992, personal communication). In such settings, in which fragmented and permeable families are the norm, it may be important to accept pluralistic definitions of the family, to abandon the preoccupation with keeping both biological parents and their children together, and to refocus on bolstering the values and processes that will work in a broad variety of family types.

Slowing, speeding, or adjusting cultural change

Studies conducted by Aldous (1961), in West Africa, and Burch (1967), using data from India, Nicaragua, and the United States, showed that many traditional family support structures persisted to varying degrees in modern life. The extended family system appears to be re-created in the urban areas by the migrant family. Burch concluded that "the non-nuclear component of the family may not uniformly decrease in urban areas of developing countries. This fact calls for some modification of the prevailing views about the 'breakdown of the extended family' in the face of modernization" (Burch 1967, 363).

One may argue that the conditions of developing societies may be more typical of earlier stages of industrialized society as described by Hareven (1990). The major transition may not go further in the same directions experienced by the industrialized countries. Examples from Japan's experience with its capitalist system (Rozman 1991) and Korean immigrants in the United States, some of whom maintain their extended kinship orientation (Wall Street Journal, June 1992) and some of whom discard it as soon as they are able (American Public Radio, July 1992), provide conflicting evidence. Berger and Berger (1984) introduce the term "creative schizophrenia": "the individual in the modern urban-industrial situation can be modern at work, and traditional at home, alternating between these two worlds of his life in a manner that is not only quite comfortable but actually productive" (Berger and Berger 1984, 88). Growing breakdown of the family in the process of transition in developing countries also has been marked by extreme poverty and lack of access to employment and other opportunities.

The main issue is how to introduce innovations in traditional societies while bridging gaps and enhancing social balance; how to slow the clock socially with respect to important cultural values and to revitalize these values while speeding the clock technologically. Referring back to the end of chapter 2, we believe that the credibility of the notion of human progress may depend on both local and global initiatives to create a new vision of quality of life at the family level that is in harmony with environmental and economic solutions at the global level. As mentioned before, it is the task of intellectuals and leaders to analyse these issues and to make recommendations.

Seeking answers in post-modern industrial conditions and Asian examples

As noted in chapter 2, the economic focus of the twenty-first century, according to Thurow (1992, 45), will be on new technological process industries that can be located anywhere on the globe. This fact creates possibilities for economic viability in any country that can train a labour force to meet the demands of the process industries. Viability in the competition for new processes does not depend on creative autonomy, but on high mathematical and technical skills and a disciplined workforce. The mastery of these skills requires disciplined educational effort from a young age - effort that may be best sustained by cohesive family ties.

These global conditions may profoundly shift the emphasis of the global youth culture. The lure of thrill-seeking and autonomous consumerism could yield to tolerance for the detail and routine required by process work. To the extent that the industrialized countries redirect their own youth cultures towards the production of disciplined children and cohesive families, it may be easier for the Úlite of developing countries to follow suit.

Instead of looking to "the West" for trend-setters, developing countries that wish to industrialize while retaining hierarchical traditional values may be able to turn towards Japan and the "little dragons" of the Pacific Rim (Vogel 1992). Philosophies of early childhood education that prepare the children of these countries for process-orientated skills continue to place more value on respect for elders and authority structures than on self-expression and uninhibited inquisitiveness. Close participation of the family in the children's school experience has been identified as a factor leading to high academic achievement among Asian refugee children in the United States (Caplan, Choy, and Whitmore 1992).

Specific recommendations

The recommendations listed below should be viewed only as a starting point for in-country consideration.

Design of services and programmes

Multi-purpose community-based programmes strengthen Family Management and Family Care while also affecting Family Beliefs, Rules, and Goals and Boundary Maintenance. These programmes build on evidence that good social networks improve family management and family morale. Instrumental assistance, advice, informal monitoring, and approval from support group members, neighbours, and friends increase the accountability and initiative levels of families. Almost all community-based programmes organized by vertical agencies in areas such as health, nutrition, family planning, and micro-enterprise development, can be structured horizontally at the grass-roots level to produce these secondary benefits.

One example from the United States is the Family Resource Program, which in some communities provides a broad range of services for the family, including child care centres, community mental health centres, the Head Start Program, and health clinics, among others (Weissbourd and Emig 1989). An example from Indonesia is the posyandu (Integrated Health and Nutrition Programme), which covers maternal and child health and nutrition and family planning services; India's Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) is another example of a systematically developed package of child and family welfare services.

These developing-country programmes, however, have not yet widely incorporated child development activities or education that help families to cope with the problems of daily life. We recommend that more resources be directed to the following:

1. Early childhood development education that takes a two-generational approach, improving both present and future family conditions. These programmes are solidly based on evidence of benefits on school completion, employment, and other impact indicators of good management and good care. They promote child and adult development simultaneously by enhancing the family's management and child-care capacities and strengthening the interdependent relationships between the family and the community. Because of widespread parental interest in child development, it also may be easier to implement nutrition and health activities under the umbrella of total child development than independently.

2. Family life education that addresses the full range of issues of family management, goals and caring skills. It can provide an excellent forum for community mobilization to take on community projects.

3. Family preservation that provides counselling for families facing all kinds of crises in boundary maintenance. Often, short-term intensive caring by community elders and friends can avert separations that would have longlasting negative effects on the family.

4. Migrant assistance programmes that help to integrate the families of new urban migrants who can successfully find employment, and that help to locate or create rural jobs for those who can be repatriated to their villages. The success of this type of programme depends on infrastructure development in rural areas.

Family and social legislation and social entitlements

Family laws and social entitlements have their greatest influence on
Family Beliefs, Rules, and Goals and Family Boundary Maintenance, while also affecting Family Management and Family Care. According to the implications of threat-point analysis ch. 3), a lack of social obligation that fathers support their children operates as a strong economic incentive for the progressive family dissolution apparent throughout the developing world. According to Bruce and Lloyd (1992), this implies the need for the following:

1. Responsibility and economic costs of children to be located equitably between mothers and fathers by social norms, procedures, and laws.

2. Child affiliation and child maintenance policies to be explicit and widely understood and operated, irrespective of the child's birth circumstances or of the marital or sexual relationship of the parents.

3. Joint husband-wife land and property titles to be issued when settlement and irrigation schemes change customary land tenure to individual ownership, and in new low-income housing projects (Dey 1992).

4. Incentives and programme features that reward father and twoparent participation to be built into the design of public programmes for children. As examples:

(a) emphasize messages for men and couples in family planning and related reproductive health efforts;

(b) encourage fathers' participation in prenatal, delivery, and postpartum care programmes;

(c) include men and couples as workers and provide messages for them in campaigns to improve early child health;

(d) draw men into children's education through explicit registration and feepayment procedures.

The support of developing-country universities and policy institutes

In order for developing regions to achieve cultural renewal, legal reform, and real representation in the policy debates of the "global village," substantive resources need to be transferred to developing-country institutions of higher learning, whether or not the government in power can be persuaded to provide matching funds. It is not possible to base relevant social construction on books and journals that are more than 20 years out of date, as is so often the case in the libraries of developing-country institutions. New forms of academic exchange with industrialized-country institutions can provide a collegial channel for cross-cultural work on family problems. Strengthening university systems is an evident pathway for strengthening the voice of local professionals, since many developing-country universities already are in place, where they serve both as the training ground and research base for intellectual leadership. Collegial exchange fosters a two-way debate and permits resource transfer to be conducted in the spins of academic freedom without offending national sensitivities. International social policy and research institutes also could be created following administrative models established by agricultural research institutes, and building on the experience of such institutions as the Institute of Nutrition for Central America and Panama (INCAP). Such efforts fail when the demand for counterpart funds is passed on to state universities or institutes that lack adequate operating resources.


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