SPFB #6 Perspectives on Family Social Policy: The New Right

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  • Perspectives on Family Social Policy:                               The New Right
    • They see the traditional nuclear family, with it's division of labour between a male provider and female home-marker, as self-reliant and capable of caring for it's members
    • It sees the decline in marriage, the increase cohabitation, the number of births outside marriage, and teenage pregnancy as symptoms of the decline in family morality
    • The New Right has considerable influence on government thinking about social policy and it's effects on the family
    • They promote a "family ideology" a set of ideas about what constitutes an "ideal" family
    • In their view social policies should therefore avoid doing anything that might undermine this "natural", self-reliant family.
    • Homo-sexuality, single parenthood, liberal sex education, abortion and working mothers are all seen as threats, both to family stability and to the wellbeing of society itself
    • The New Right go one step further and go out of their way to help and support the nuclear family for example, such as taxes that favour married rather than cohabitating couples
    • The New Right promotes self-reliance and no reliance on the state when this is achieved only then can the family meet the needs of it's members effectively
    • Murray (1984)
      • Argues that these benefits offer "perverse incentives", in other words they reward irresponsible of anti-social behaviour
        • The growth of lone=parent families means more boys grow up without a male role model and authority figure. This slack of paternal authority is responsible for a rising crime rate among young males
        • If fathers see that the state will maintain their children, some of them will abandon their responsibilities towards their families
        • Providing council housing for unmarried teenage mothers encourages young girls to become pregnant
    • The New Rights solution to this problem is simple, cut welfare state benefits and tighten up who should get them
      • What impact would this have?
        • Denying council housing to unmarried teenage mothers would remove at least one incentive to become pregnant
        • Cutting benefits would mean that taxes could also be reduced, which may give fathers an incentive to work and provide for their families
    • The New Right argue that governments often weaken the family's self-reliance by providing generous welfare benefits
    • These include providing council housing for unmarried teenage mothers and cash payments to support lone-parent families
    • Even though the New Right sees the nuclear family as not having enough support, there are some positives to its promotion existing in society today
      • Tax and welfare policies have generally favoured and encouraged the heterosexual married couple rather than cohabitating couples , single parents and same sex couples
        • Allan (1985)
          • goes as far as to suggest that these policies have actively discouraged cohabitation and one-parent families
      • The fact that a coordinated set of family policies was not introduced until 1999 many reflect the states traditional tendency to see the family as a private institution and its reluctance to interfere in the families internal organisation
      • Policies such as the payment of child benefit to the mother, and the governments are reluctance to fund free universal nursery provision, have reinforced the idea that women should take prime  responsibility for children

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