Social policy constructs personal lives

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Discuss the evidence that social policy constructs personal lives.’

To suggest that social policy constructs personal lives may be considered to imply a process of policy influence to an extent of determination on the individual and their life and in order to discuss the evidence relating to this it is necessary to first disseminate this suggestion. While factors may be looked at in turn andconsideration given to the construction of one factor upon another it should also be questioned if there is a possibility of an inter-relation. Within the question posed for discussion the factors of social policy and personal lives are recognisable but only through defining these are we able to move further towards answering the question itself.

While, social policy is concerned with thedifferent policies or courses of action put in place to deal with social issues, often referring to policies adopted by groups of authority such as Government, organisations or specialist bodies with the course of action being imposed on the members of society in their professional or personal lives, defining the concept of personal lives is more complex. Made up of aspects derived from many factorsthat interrelate and impact in a variety of ways, personal lives can be more clearly considered by looking at ‘the personal’ of an individual. The personal thought as the specifics of the individual, incorporating features from their life chances and experiences to their emotions and thoughts is thus both visible and invisible. In addition, the personal is described as having four spheres, intowhich elements of; wider social relations and processes linked to social divisions, relevant discourses and their effects, guiding cultural practice and of psychic structures of self can be divided or categorised. (Open University, 2004, The Personal) These spheres point to there being an affiliation of interrelation and complexity between ‘the personal’ in respect of personal lives and outer societalfactors and as such the concept of the personal can be considered a mutual constitution.

The concept of mutual constitution is as with ‘the personal’ a complex one, but can be suggested as essentially describing the encounters and the processes of ‘each [shaping] the other’. (Fink and Lewis, 2004, p. 7) Social policy in particular has great impact upon societal living and as such, arelationship between the two is identifiable. In addition, as personal lives can influence social policy the relationship can be identified as one of interrelation and thus as a mutual constitution. Thus, we can determine that this interrelation impacts and influences, in an ambiguous manner while also being experienced differently by each individual due to the different spheres within the personal of eachof us.

As, this mutually constitutive relationship is relevant, evident and thus recognised within ‘the personal’ of the individual confirmation of this is able to be identified through exploring how this can occur. In order to examine this in more depth a focus of working mothers, having strong connections to aspects within themes of both care and work, is centred upon to enable focuseddirection to discussion. Examination using both post – structuralism perspective and feminist theory is made, while discourse; the suggestion that ‘interconnected ideas… work together in a self-contained way,… held together by a particular ideology’ (Stainton Rogers, 2001, p. 29) is also used for analysis drawing upon the normalization process for illustration. In addition, a variety of evidence isevaluated, including that available from qualitative research due to its particular value in exploring in the diversity of the personal and personal lives with its methodology extracting personal narrative containing rich evidence relevant to this, (Fink and Lewis, 2004, p. 17) to enhance the discussion further. Principally, the objective of engaging with the question posed; the exploration of the...
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