State Law and Social Policy

Report
State Law and Social
Policy
Chapter 10
By: Heidi Davis, Jessica Farmer, Ashley
Sluder, and Hanna Sparks
What is the state?

The state is an abstract concept
that refers to all forms of social
organization representing official
power in society: the government,
law and social policy, the courts
and the criminal justice system, the
military, and the police.
What does the state do?
The state works with other
institutions to assign roles, and
distribute resources
 It regulates other institutions and
sets guild lines for expected
behaviors
 Channels resources and power

What does the state do?

The state regulates:
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Family
Education
The economic system
Religion
Government and Representation
The government is one of the
institutions that makes up the state
 The U.S. government is said to be
a democracy because it is based on
equal representation
 The government is not
representative of all people and
those that are elected to office do
not necessarily represent all
interests equally.

The Constitution

“The founding fathers thought
women’s political identity should
be restricted because their
presence in politics was immoral,
corruptive, and potentially
disruptive, and the women should
be represented by fathers,
husbands, or brothers” (613 Shaw
and Lee).
The Constitution
This ideology meant women had no
legal identity
 They had to depend on their
relationship to a man
 Women had no claims to citizenship
rights as a woman until the 19th
century

Time Line
1984- Declaration of Sentiments
and Resolutions aims at securing
citizenship rights for women
 1986- 14th amendment gives right
to due process and equal
protection under the law ( BUT the
terms citizen and person did not
include women)
 1920- 19th amendment gives
women right to vote

Equal Rights Amendment of 1923
Made to address problems with
14th Amendment
 ERA affirms women and men hold
equally all the rights of the U.S.
constitution
 Defeated June 30, 1982 because it
failed to be ratified by the states

Female Representation in National
Legislatures Worldwide
No country had more than 50% women
1. Rwanda 48.8%
25. Afghanistan 27.3%
64. Nepal and Italy 17.3%
68. United States 16.3%
These statistics do not mean very much
without the back story to explain them,
but they still say something to how
women are represented in their
countries.

Women and Law

The U.S. kept the British common
law that utilized the doctrine of
femme couverte, or covered
women: Husband and wife were
one person under law, and she was
his sexual property.
Covered Women
Women could not seek employment
without the husband’s consent
 Women could not keep their
wages, own property, or sue
 They could not exercise control
over their children, or control their
reproductive lives
 Rape could not exist inside a
marriage

Cases and Acts

Women did not have legal
protection against violence until
the 80’s and 90’s
◦ Rape shield law
◦ Notification of sexual offenders
◦ Temporary and Protective restraining
orders
◦ Violence Against Women Act 1994
Cases and Acts

Griswold v. Connecticut 1965
◦ Gave rights to contraceptives

Roe v. Wade
◦ Gave rights to abortions

Muller v. Oregon
◦ Reaffirmed justification for limiting
women’s employment based on protecting
women’s reproductive functions
◦ For the “well-being of the race” women’s
right to contract freely needed to have
limits
Divorce
Before the creation of a no-fault
divorce people had to sue for a
divorce and someone had to be
found in blame
 Alimony- payment women
traditionally received as
compensation for unpaid work as
wives and mothers, has been cut
since the 70’s.

Public Policy
State policies determine rights and
privileges
 The state has the power to
exclude/discriminate groups, and
create policy in favor of groups
 State represents the dominate
groups in society and supports
their interests

Welfare
Race and Gender inequities
strongly influence poverty in the
U.S.
 8 million families are living in
poverty

◦ 22% Latinas/os 10% Asian American
◦ 25% African American
9% White
Boot Strap Myth
This myth means the individual is
able to “overcome” and succeed
regardless of structure aspects of the
labor force and societal systems that
promote classism
 “Pull yourself up by your own
bootstraps”
 This myth can explain the social
stigma of people on Welfare
 PRWORA and changing AFDC to
TANF are examples of cutting
assistance to families

Criminal Justice System
Men (mostly men of color) are
more likely to end up in prison
 7% of prisoners women, African
American women 3 times more
likely than white women to end up
in prison
 Women are more likely to be first
time offenders, less likely to use
firearms, and more likely to use
household items as weapons

The Military
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Women were not always allowed to serve
in military
Military promotes masculine cultural
traits EX: violence, aggression,
competition
1 in 7 of soldiers serving in the Iraq war
is a woman (45% of those women are
mothers)
Women often face sexualized violence
and harassment
Homophobia in the military “Don’t Ask
Don’t Tell Policy”

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