.. The taxes from the economic market feed the collective consumption of the government and legislation and boards from the government provide occupational health and safety standards. The government also provides a stabling influence on the changing economy. As far as the family is concerned the State provides redistribution of transfer payments and substitute wage programs. The government also strengthens the social welfare net and provides charity and philanthropy to those in need. Labour market regulation allows the regulation of child labour laws and gives more bargaining power to families and wage earners.
One major form of this is the ability to strike and discuss minimum wage legislation. (Dickinson/Russell, 1986: 17) Saskatchewan, under the first socialist government in North America the CCF, was the first to give wage-earners the right to go on strike in 1944. It took Ontario twenty years to give its provincial residents the same right. Households and families units of ,individual consumption, use this increase in labour power to provide more taxes, if not out of the good of their hearts then for government stability, to the political state. Thus, the family unit helps balance the power struggle the government has with the ever increasing economic sphere in a symbiotic relationship. In “The State and the Maintenance of Patriarchy: A case study of family, labour and welfare legislation in Canada”, Jane Ursel writes: An important role of the state in class societies is to ensure a balanced allocation of labour and non-labour resources between the two spheres of production and reproduction so that the system is maintained both in the long and short term…the state is the guarantor of the rules of class and the rules of patriarchy and must insure that one system does not disrupt the other.
(Dickinson/Russell, 1986:154) The government uses its control to regulate and perpetuate the status quo and the family is a part of that. However, she does not believe that the patriarchal system is all bad. She continues to write: Patriarchy is important because the state cannot (inspite of some ill-fated attempts) legislate procreation. It must instead set up a system via family, property and marriage laws which will serve to translage social and economic requirements into compelling household imperatives. The characteristic feature of familial patriarchy is its pronatalist dynamic. This results from the nature of the interaction between class and patriarchy which creates a dterminant relation between productivity and procreation at the household level.(Dickinson/Russel, 1986:157) The family can change these regulations as well. According to what has been discussed so far the definition of a family would be a non-capitalist unit in which the maintenance and reproduction of labour power takes place.
(Bailey, 1974: 34) The Websters Dictionary describes a family as “a group of related things or people”. (1990) However, the Canadian government defines the family as “now-married couple (with or without never-married sons and/or daughters of either or both spouses), a couple living common law (again with or without never-married sons and/or daughters of either or both partners) or a lone parent of any marital status, with at least one never-married son or daughter living in the same dwelling. (Statistics Canada, 1994:10) Because the governments definition of family lets several groups that may still be considered families “slip through the cracks”, this gives bargaining power to the family unit yet again to change government regulation. The Canadian government still does not recognize same sex couples, three generations living in the same household and individuals living apart from spouses and children. In 1991, 424,950 individuals aged 18-25 lived with non-relatives, in institutions, or by themselves. This represents over 20% of the age group.
(Statistics Canada, 1994:19) One aspect of the political sphere that the family continually challenges is gender equality. Starting with the latter part of the nineteenth century where waves of feminist protest began throughout the western world. Women organized in groups starting at the family level and gaining support from other women’s groups. One of the first cases early feminists argued before the government was their collective right to vote. As early as 1916 in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba women were given the right to vote, this increased the families power with swaying the political sphere..it essentially doubled it. (Wilson. 1982:119) The women’s movement appeared to lose its momentum after women gained the right to vote.
But although women’s groups were no longer held together by a single goal. They continued to fight for women’s rights on several fronts. The YWCA and Canadian Business and Professional Women remained active in support of women’s issues. However, it wasn’t until the 1960’s that the movement regained its previous strength. (Wilson, 1982:125) Women in families are not the only ones who have argued with the political sphere and won some political rights. Some Gay families or same-sex couples have won the right to adopt children and in some American states get married.
The Modern family depends heavily on the all the institutions of society for support. Where in the past the family was independent, now it needs the bonds created through long access to each sphere either political or economic. The labour power generated by the family unit gives it he bargaining power to compete head to head with the ever growing and dominant labour market and government bureaucracy. But because the family is the smallest group and is based on individual consumption it can seem over-taxed when dealing with mighty corporations and large political states. However, in the global market-place the power lies in the hands of those that control the labour and the consumption. Currently, the family institution relies on the economy and political state, but as the bargaining for labour power continues the family is emerging as the dominant force. As new evolutions of families are being allowed to participate in our culture, more power will create more labour and more reproduction.
It is a basic fact that history repeats itself, maybe the family will gain the dominant role it had before the industrial revolution and mercantilism. Bibliography Bailey, Reed J. The New State: Capital Family. Oxford. Oxford Press Ltd. 1974 Burggraf, Shirley P, Ph.D. The Feminine Economy and Economic Man: Reviving the Role of Family in the Post-Industrial Age. Addison-Wesley Publishing, New York.
1997 Dickinson, James and Russell, Bob. Family, Economy and State: The social Reproduction Process Under Capitalism. St. Martin’s Press, New York. 1986 Gouverneur, Jacques.
Contemporary Capitalism and Marxist Economics. Martin Robertson, Oxford. 1983 Purdy, David. Social Power and the Labour Market: A Radical Approach to Labour Economics. Macmillan Education, England.
1988 Rueschemeyer, Dietrich. Power and the Division of Labour. Polity Press, Worcester. 1986 Smith, Ciaphus. Marx, Capitalism and the Family:Production and the reproduction of labour power. Masters Press, London.
1982 Statistics Canada. Canadian 1991 Census Results Statistics Canada, Toronto, 1994 Wilson, S.J. Women The Family and the Economy. McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd. Toronto. 1982.