Informing family policies: The uses of social research

Phyllis E Moen, Pamela Maynard Morgan Jull

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Like the topic of family policy itself, research informing family policies is difficult to characterize. This article discusses how ideology and values influence research agendas and then describes three types of studies informing family policies: research defining social issues, evaluation research, and research about the policy-making process. Two case studies illustrate how social research informs family policy: in promoting gender equality in Scandinavia and in reforming child support in the United States. Values of individualism and the sanctity of the family have traditionally focused policy makers' and, hence, researchers' attention on individuals, not families, as the units of analysis. But dramatic shifts in family structure and functioning along with renewed public concern about family disintegration are placing families high on the policy agenda. Both "basic" and "applied" family scholars can contribute to a research agenda examining the factors promoting strong, effective families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-107
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Family and Economic Issues
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • basic research
  • child support
  • evaluation
  • family policy
  • policy research
  • social policy
  • social research
  • social science


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