Globalization, Canadian Family Policy, and the Omissions of Neoliberalism

BY Janine Brodie

The relationship between globalization, family structures, and social policy is complex, uneven, and evolving. This Article examines social policy reform in Canada during the past two decades in order to advance three propositions about the relationship between globalization and public policy: first, the influence of globalization on social policy is neither direct nor uniform but, instead, strongly mediated by changing political rationalities; second, neoliberalism is most productively understood as a contested political rationality that weaves foundational commitments to the market, market logics, and individualization into new public policies and regulatory fields and onto existing ones; and, finally, analyses of contemporary family policy should be as concerned with the ways in which governments frame social policy reforms as with the amount that they spend on them. Describing recent policy interventions in family income support, maternity, parental benefits, and care policies, this Article describes how Canadian social policy reform relies on fiscalization, which presupposes that relatively modest payments to individuals and families or tax deductions and credits can stand in for social research and planning, democratic debate, and public infrastructure. Fiscalization also imagines that families will use relatively small increments in income for their designated policy goal in an era when a great many families are coping with declining incomes, unemployment, and rising debt. Although income support is necessary for a growing number of Canadian families, this Article concludes that social policy reform has yet to adequately respond to contemporary family challenges, including work-life balance and a growing care deficit.

DOWNLOAD PDF | 88 N.C. L. Rev. 1559 (2010)