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The Politics of Family

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Political science has been relatively silent about family, associating it with social welfare policy, gender, or the private sphere. However, family is also an important part of day-to-day politics, and legislators use family to accomplish a wide range of policy goals. This paper provides a theoretical framework for thinking about family as a part of the policy process that justifies policy positions, administers goods and services, and determines eligibility. I test the theoretical framework by evaluating where and how family is used in the policy process with a quantitative analysis of congressional speeches, the U.S. code, and federal regulations. Finally, a brief look at tax policy in the 1990s shows how family can be incorporated into political research. Ultimately, political actors use concepts of family across a broad spectrum of policy areas, including those not traditionally thought of as “family oriented,” suggesting a number of important implications and research questions for further study.Polity (2006) 38, 151–173. doi:10.1057/palgrave.polity.2300033
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1University at Albany

Publication date: 01 April 2006

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