Click here to see the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation's press release: Social policy must adapt to new 'family values'


Kay Carberry, Assistant General Secretary of the TUC

Alan Simpson MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Social Science

Professor Fiona Williams, OBE, Director of the ESRC CAVA Research Group

The launch took place on 23 June 2004 at The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, 12 Great George Street, Parliament Square, London.

Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and Minister for Women says: "I welcome this report, and in particular the research results which underline the deep commitment that people demonstrate towards their friends and loved ones, irrespective of the form their family takes. Government policy should always work with the grain of people's lives. That's why we have put in place a range of policies which help to provide a climate that supports people in different kinds of families in carrying out their caring commitments while, at the same time, working to support themselves. I particularly welcome the proposal for promoting and valuing an 'ethic of care' alongside an ethic of work."

Rethinking Families is a forward-thinking and timely contribution to current debates about changes in family lives and personal relationships from the Economic and Social Research Council’s CAVA Research Group at the University of Leeds. It provides a considered, authoritative and politically relevant perspective on these issues, indispensable for policymakers, practitioners and students alike.

Rethinking Families sets out the main trends: the increase in the number of working mothers, in cohabitation and divorce, in single- and step-parenthood, in people living on their own or in more open same-sex relationships – within the context of ethnic and cultural diversity and an ageing society. How, it asks, do people deal with these changes and what are the implications for future social policy? In pulling together new in-depth research on people’s experiences it shows that while the shape of commitments may be changing, there is no loss of commitment itself. People may care in different ways but what it means to be a good mother, father, grandparent, friend, daughter, son, partner or ex-partner is central to how people negotiate their living and loving, working and caring.

From the analysis of family lives, friendships and support networks, the author develops the case for a more radical repositioning of the place of care in political thinking and strategy. In documenting accounts of compassionate realism, this book provides an important counter to the idea that people have become more self-centred and disconnected.

Fiona Williams, Director of the ESRC Research Group on Care, Values and the Future of Welfare (CAVA) and Professor of Social Policy at the University of Leeds, has written widely on social policy issues. She is the author of Social Policy: A Critical Introduction: Issues of ‘Race’, Class and Gender (Polity Press, 1989), and co-editor, with Jennie Popay and Ann Oakley, of Welfare Research: A Critique of Theory and Method (UCL Press, 1999).

ISBN 1 903080 02 9 Price £6.00 96 pages
Published by Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, UK, 2004
Available from Central Books Ltd, 99 Wallis Road, London E9 5LN
Tel: 0845 458 9911 Fax: 0845 458 9912


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