Survival of the Black Family: The Institutional Impact of U.S. Social Policy

Survival of the Black Family: The Institutional Impact of U.S. Social Policy

Survival of the Black Family: The Institutional Impact of U.S. Social Policy

Survival of the Black Family: The Institutional Impact of U.S. Social Policy

Synopsis

Survival of the Black Family critically examines the social policies that arose from the civil rights movement. Jewell proposes new steps to economic independence for black families that would place this responsibility within all sectors of society, arguing that social policies and their absence have affected the status of black family structures. She refutes the myths of significant black progress that emanated from the civil rights era, including the belief in equity for minorities in societal institutions. Attention is focused on the extent to which black families have been adversely affected by a process of assimilation, which was sociopsychological rather than economic. Jewell also discusses how neoconservatism in the 1980s has affected the status of black families. Finally, Jewell offers guidelines to the formulation of a social policy that could enhance the status of black families in the United States.

Excerpt

The central thesis of Survival of the Black Family: the Institutional Impact of U. S. Social Policy is that policies, procedures, and assumptions underlying social and economic programs in the 1960s and 1970s contributed to the disintegration of black two-parent and extended families and to an increase in black families headed by women. in addition, these factors are related to the decline of other important institutions.

The primary reason for the failure of liberal social policy to enhance the status of black families was that social and economic programs and civil rights legislation could not effectively remove social barriers, which prevent black families from participating fully in mainstream American society.

While it is not the intent of the author to minimize the important role that economic factors play in contributing to upward mobility and economic independence for both black and white families, it is the case that social policy can determine the overall impact of social and economic conditions on society members. This is particularly true for families that occupy an economically depressed status. Furthermore, in the absence of policies and practices that guarantee that all individuals will be permitted equal access to societal institutions, the most optimal economic climate will not afford blacks and other disenfranchised groups opportunities to achieve at a level comparable to that of majority group members. Therefore, an examination of social policy is essential to a thorough understanding of the economic status of extant black families.

Although I argue that social policies and their absence have strongly influenced the emergence and decline of diverse black family structures, liberal social policy, as implemented in the United States, has had an adverse effect on black two-

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