The Good Family and the State

The Good Family and the State

Convened by Kalle Grill & Daniela Cutas, Umeå University

The aim of this workshop is to discuss what characterizes a good family and what (if anything) the state should do to promote good families.

Marriage is the traditional institution thought to protect families. This institution has been heavily criticized over the past decades, e.g. from feminist as well as neutralist liberal perspectives. Feminist criticism focuses on patriarchal oppression within marriages as well as the exclusion of same-sex arrangements. Liberal criticism is also directed at restrictions on who can marry, e.g. the restriction to two persons, to romantic or sexual relationships, and to lifelong or presumptively lifelong relationships. Some liberal critics propose that marriage be expanded to avoid discrimination, while others propose that it be abolished.

In light of this criticism of marriage, we may ask what the point is of awarding some personal relationships special legal status. One obvious rationale is to protect children. Another possible rationale is to protect caring relationships more generally. There may be other rationales. Depending on both the potential goods that families are supposed to deliver, and on empirical considerations, different sorts of families may be fulfilling their function more or less effectively and reliably. Depending on the role of the state in relation to these goods, it should perhaps design policy to protect and promote different sorts of personal relationships.

Questions that will be addressed in this workshop include:

  • What is the purpose of the family?
  • What goods can or should be delivered by families?
  • What reasons does the state have to regulate or otherwise shape families?
  • What policies directed at personal relationships should be enacted, abolished or modified?

Abstracts of up to 500 words may be submitted to by May 15th. Notification by May 31st. Speaker slots include 30 minutes for presentations and 30 minutes for discussions.  We particularly encourage early career researchers to submit an abstract. Researchers who are not in full-time employment are eligible for a bursary covering the registration costs. You may find more details about the bursaries here.