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A History of Regulating Working Families

Strains, Stereotypes, Strategies and Solutions

By: Nicole Busby, Grace James
Media of A History of Regulating Working Families
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Published: 06-08-2020
Format: Hardback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 184
ISBN: 9781849465571
Imprint: Hart Publishing
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
RRP: £60.00
Online price : £54.00
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About A History of Regulating Working Families

Families in market economies have long been confronted by the demands of participating in paid work and providing care. Across Europe the social, economic and political environment within which families do so has been subject to substantial change in the post-World War II era and governments have come under increasing pressure to engage with this important area of public policy. In the UK, as elsewhere, the tensions which lie at the heart of the paid work/unpaid care conflict remain unresolved posing substantial difficulties for all of law's subjects both as carers and as the recipients of care. What seems like a relatively simple goal – to enable families to better balance care-giving and paid employment – has been subject to and shaped by shifting priorities over time leading to a variety of often conflicting policy approaches.
This book critiques how working families in the UK have been subject to regulation. It has two aims:
· To chart the development of the UK's law and policy framework by focusing on the post-war era and the growth and decline of the welfare state, considering a longer historical trajectory where appropriate.

· To suggest an alternative policy approach based on Martha Fineman's vulnerability theory in which the vulnerable subject replaces the liberal subject as the focus of legal intervention. This reorientation enables a more inclusive and cohesive policy approach and has great potential to contribute to the reconciliation of the unresolved conflict between paid work and care-giving.


“The authors of this highly original book use vulnerability theory to critically examine dominant assumptions and discourses regarding the legal regulation of the 'working family' and its socially essential role of caring for dependency in the U.K. In this model of compelling socio-legal scholarship, this history is placed in the context of corresponding legal developments regarding gender equality, employment law, and the welfare state, as well as the rise of the European Union. This beautifully executed book is highly recommended for everyone interested in understanding the dynamic and complex roles of the family, work, and welfare in law and in society.” –  Martha Albertson Fineman, Robert W Woodruff Professor of Law, Emory University

“'Work-Life balance' is one of the great issues of our age. In this magnificent book Nicole Busby and Grace James provide a rich, powerful critique of how the law engages with working families. It highlights the stereotypes which have dominated the legal response and the tensions in the public policy. It is essential reading for lawyers and policy makers on an issue which affects us all.” –  Jonathan Herring, DM Wolfe-Clarendon Fellow in Law, Vice Dean and Professor of Law, Exeter College, University of Oxford

The History of Regulating Working Families: Strains, Stereotypes, Strategies and Solutions is essential reading for anyone interested in how the law in the UK seeks to accommodate the competing demands of earning a living, typically though employment, and fulfilling unpaid caring responsibilities. Nicole Busby and Grace James's historical approach deftly illustrates how stereotypes of appropriate carers and caring relationships have led to strains and contradictions that the law has sought, too-often unsuccessfully, to manage. Beautifully written and erudite, The History of Regulating Working Families goes beyond critique to offer solutions that avoid the gender, family and lifecycle stereotypes that pervade the law. Deploying a vulnerability approach, Busby and James reimagine the roles of the state, market and the family so that work and care can be organised in ways that are compatible and not conflictual, and that enable individuals, families and communities to flourish.” –  Judy Fudge, LIUNA Enrico Henry Mancinelli Professor of Global Labour Issues, McMaster University

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