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Like Marxists, feminists see society as based on conflict, but in their view the fundamentalists
conflict is between genders, not classes. Society is patriarchal (male dominated), benefitting men
at women's expenses, and the state continues women's subordination through its social policies.
Liberal feminists see that the inequality is due to lack of beneficial laws for women and radical
feminists see men as the enemy.
For e.g., family policies may be based on the assumption that the "normal" family is a
conventional nuclear family with a heterosexual married couple and their children. Therefore, if
the state assumes this and offers benefits to married couples, but not cohabitating ones, these
policies may produce self-fulfilling prophecy, encouraging the kind of family that the state
assumed to be the norm in the first place and making it more difficult for people to live in other
kinds of family.
Feminists research has had an impact in a number of policy areas. For example, in education, it
has influenced policies such as: learning materials that promote more positive images of females
and teacher training to inform teachers to the need to avoid gender bias and promote fairness
for both sexes.
Many of these policies reflect the liberal feminists view that anti-discrimination reforms will
ultimately bring about gender inequality.…read more
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On the other hand, radical feminists ideas have also had some influence on social policy. Radical
feminists ideas have also had some influence on social policy. Radical feminists regard men as
direct oppressors of women, especially through the family, where the woman is subordinated
and suffers from physical/sexual violence. They therefore favour seperatism which is that women
should leave their husbands/partners and live in a house free of men. One area of social policy to
reflect this view is the establishment of women's refuges for women escaping domestic violence.
For e.g. the Women's Aid Federation supports a national network of over 500 such services,
often with funding from local and central government.
Overall, it's clear that feminist sociological research has had some impact on social policies in
areas that affect women, in part due to the success of the broader feminist movement in gaining
greater political influence since the 1970s. However, many feminists reject the view that
reformists social policies can liberate women. For e.g., both Marxist and radical feminists call for
more far-reaching changes that the existing state can't deliever.…read more
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The New Right
TNR believe that the state should have only minimal involvement in society. In particular, they
are opposed to using state provision of welfare to deal with social problems. In their view, state
intervention in areas such as family life, income support, education and health care robs people
of their freedom to make their own choices and undermines their sense of responsibility. This in
turn leads to greater social problems, such as crime and delinquency.
Murray argues that generous welfare benefits and council housing for lone parents act as
"perverse incentives" that weaken the family's self-reliance. They encourage the growth of a
dependency culture and an underclass of lone mothers, undisciplined children and irresponsible
fathers who abandon their families in the knowledge that the welfare state will provide for them.
For this reason, Murray favours a reduction in state spending on welfare.
TNR are therefore highly critical of many existing social policies. However, they aren't opposed to
social policy as such, and they see the role of sociologists as being policies should aim to restore
individuals' responsibility for their own and their families' welfare, rather than leaving this to the
state. For e.g. Breakdown Britian proposes a range of new social policies aimed at the family like
marriage preparation and parenting classes.…read more
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Influence of New Right thinking
Because of its ideological opposition to the state having a major role in welfare, NR thinking has
tended to be particularly attractive to the Conservative party. However, some new labour
policies have shown the influence of NR views. For e.g. New Labour regards a married couple as
normally the best place to bring up children.
While not favouring a major role for the state in welfare provision, the NR support a strong "law
and order" policy and research by right realist criminologists, such as Wilson and Kelling's article
Broken Windows, has been influential in the widespread of the introduction of zero tolerance
However, the quality of the objectivity of the social research used by the NR have been
questioned. For e.g. the validity of the data on which Murray bases this claims about a link
between absent fathers and delinquency has been widely challenged.…read more