Will Family Policy Development in South Africa Free Itself from Ideology?

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 10:30 AM
Room: 413
Oral Presentation
Marlize RABE , University of South Africa, South Africa
The aim of this paper is to give an overview of South African family research and to recommend how family policies can match these realities. The South African national department of social development published their draft White Paper on Families towards the end of 2012. This White Paper is believed to be a precursor of family policies to follow. Historically the apartheid government placed the bulk of family care on the shoulders of the extended family but there have been various indications for decades that this burden cannot be carried by families alone. An analysis of African countries, unlike welfare states from the North, shows a general picture of minimal assistance from the state and a reliance on extended families to take care of individuals. Although there are indications of social security mechanisms in African countries including pensions and family allowances, these may be partly or solely carried by the private sector. However, the current democratically elected South African government developed a multitude of policies and acts in place to support people at risk (e.g. poor or abused people), but these target individuals. In the draft White Paper families at risk are identified, but policy makers are unclear on how to match support to such families with the realities. The Latin American family policy examples, such as Progresa in Mexico (launched in 1997 but renamed Oportunidades in 2002) and Chile Solidario (implemented from 2002 in Chile), did not find support with the South African government. This lack of support for these types of policies is not entirely clear but the principle of expected counter performance (such as progressing in school) did not seem to find favour. Instead, idealised notions of nuclear families are put forward in the draft White Paper but here alternative policy directions will be suggested.