BACKGROUND: Recognising traditional and non-traditional families in social policy is not sufficient if the policy implementation choices continue to accord more status to traditional families in comparison to non-traditional families. If unattended, this can create discriminatory practices, and human rights on an equal basis can be threatened between traditional and non-traditional families. This descriptive study compared traditional and non-traditional families of public officials with a focus on (1) form and income, (2) familial needs as per key propositions, (3) families perceptions/experiences at community and broader societal levels and (4) familial needs government must assist them with.
METHODS: A quantitative research paradigm, a cross-sectional survey design was electronically administered to 600 public officials and culminated in a final sample of 70 respondents, was implemented. The study was contextualized within a contemporary family discourse, primarily influenced by a feminist perspective as well as a critique of the nuclear or traditional family grounded in functionalist theory.
RESULTS: The study showed that traditional and non-traditional families of public officials are more the same than different. Public officials’ families, both traditional and non-traditional families, are affected by their inter-connectivity with communities and broader society in terms of how they experience negative treatment/ discrimination on the basis of a variety of equality issues as well as fulfillment of their socio-economic rights as stipulated in the Bill of Rights as enshrined in the South African Constitution.
CONCLUSION: The study indicated that public officials, as members of families, live in both traditional and non-traditional families. Public officials have familial needs similar to any other family and are also influenced by similar factors in broader society. As both rights holders and duty bearers they can improve their own family lives and also better serve families in broader society. However they too need to be supported with their own family needs.