Examine the ways in which laws and social policy affect family life.
Social policies consider the actions that the government take to make changes in society. Social policies are developed to help tackle social issues. There are some different views on policies, for example, from the New Right or New Labour. They have different views and during different times in society, views change. Some policies have a positive effect on the family and some have a negative effect on the family.
The New Right believe there was once a ‘Golden Age’ of the family where husbands and wives were strongly committed to each other for life. The children were brought up to respect their parents and social institutions such as the law. They are opposed to family diversity and are anti-feminist. The New Right see the 1960s and early 70s as the beginning of the attack on family values by the government.
The New Right promote what are called family values. Jewson (1994) identified some core family values. Public policy should favour this family type and oppose other types like same-sex families, sexual freedoms, sex education that ignores the family setting, and abortion. The nuclear family of two married parents and biological children is the normal family. They believe that the woman cares and nurtures while the man brings in economic earnings. They also believe that the family should look after one another in times of ill health, old age and lack of work.
The New Right support some policies that also support the traditional nuclear family. They support the tax and welfare policies as it benefits the heterosexual married couples. This leaves out a lot of different types of families such as the extended family and the same-sex families and so is unfair to those. They also support the payment of child benefit to the mother and reluctance to fund free universal provision has reinforced the idea that women should take prime responsibility for children. Feminists would say that this is.