Examine the influence of social policy on the family (24 marks)
As the UK holds no ministers for the issue of families, it’s the social and economic policies that have an effect on family life. To examine this is it important to understand what the two party ideologies, New Labour and New Right, wanted for the family and the policies they brought in to do this. New Right policies aimed to lesson welfare dependency and promote the nuclear family structure. In 2011, the coalition arranged for all divorcing couples to have mediation. Mediation was a type of counselling which tried to promote rekindling of family and discouraged divorce. The effect on the family would be down to circumstance. New Right thought this would discourage family breakdown and ensure that the children are properly socialised by two parents, of the opposite sex. However, Feminists would argue that it is just another tool of female oppression because even in the instance of abusive partners they would still have to meet for counselling, even though it would be likely that they wouldn’t want to. They might also say it promotes patriarchy as women are being forced to stay in their marriage even if they are unhappy because it is what is deemed “right”. Another key policy the coalition brought in was the bedroom/ spare room tax, which worked to cut housing benefits if you had “spare” rooms. However, the effect on the family might be, worse living conditions, more cramped living; it could also have a knock-on effect on the children’s education opportunity if they don’t have the space to work. Having said this, New Right saw it as a way of decreasing dependency on the government hand-outs and promotes a meritocracy, as if they want a bigger house, they will have to work harder for it. Whilst they view it positivity, feminist would disagree and say that it would cause tension for women at home as they would be held responsible for their living conditions. Similarly, Marxist would think it is...
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