Constituting sexuality through social policy: the case of lone motherhood 1834 and today.
Social and Legal Studies, 10(3)
Adopting a poststructural approach this article explores the intersection of sexuality and social policy, particularly the role of policies in constituting sexual norms and through these, deserving and undeserving gendered welfare subjects. It examines unmarried and lone motherhood discourses of two periods - the 1830s and the 1990s - and shows that not only do particular representations of lone motherhood persist across the centuries but also that welfare policies perform a normalizing and regulatory role in relation to sexuality. It illustrates also how policy makers dismiss the moral, economic and sexual rationalities of welfare subjects, preferring instead to impose their own set of moral values. In exploring the sexuality-social policy dynamic it demonstrates that not only is social policy 'shot through' with sexuality but also that the two are mutually constitutive. Further, the article demonstrates the shifting dynamics of the normalization process whereby that which was once abhorred is embraced, as well as the ways that sexuality is regulated through social policy without resorting to the power of law or legal method.
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