Queer(y)ing the family : an investigation into theories of family : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Women's Studies at Massey University
Within society there are many varieties of family arrangements, however some New Zealand social policies overlook any groups which do not reflect the dominant family type. Certain aspects of social policy prevent their recognition, preventing the receipt of state welfare assistance. I argue provision exists for primarily one type of family group: the heterosexual nuclear family. Beginning with the definition of the New Zealand Census of Population and Dwellings (Statistics New Zealand, 1994), I examine the implications that such a narrow definition may hold for alternatives to the dominant heterosexual model. This discussion develops into an examination of the construction of our social policy and the underlying ideologies which inform such policy. Specifically I examine some of the literature from a sociology of the family and provide an explanation for the disturbing fact that in New Zealand society it would appear that families which do not fit the definition outlined above are rendered invisible. This research engages with theoretical material to examine both the construction and ideology of New Zealand social policy. Given the current trend towards greater choice for the individual, the important nature of such research is emphasised. I refer to the concern of the New Zealand Income Support Service that a woman who chooses to become pregnant outside of a couple relationship, and then requires income support assistance may be viewed as having become pregnant for financial gain. Alongside this, I examine the ideology of the deserving and undeserving poor which underpins much of New Zealand's welfare history and defines who is deemed worthy of assistance.