The New Right believe that the traditional nuclear family is best and are critical of other ‘non-standard’ family types such as lone parent and reconstituted families.
CIVITAS is one of the best examples of an organisation which represents the New Right View of the Family, and the decline of the nuclear family and increase the the number of single parent families is one of the social trends it focuses on.
In one of it’s documents, entitled ‘Experiments in Fatherless Living‘ CIVITAS focuses on the consequences of rising number of single parent families for both children and society. Just some of the problems they single out include the fact that:
Problems with Lone mothers
- Are poorer – one mothers are twice as likely as two-parent families to live in poverty at any one time (69% of lone mothers are in the bottom 40% of household income versus 34% of couples with children).
- Are more likely to have mental health problems – At the age of 33, divorced and never-married
- were 2.5 times more likely than married mothers to experience high levels of psychological distress.
- may have more problems interacting with their children. Young people in lone-parent families were 30% more likely than those in two-parent families to report that their parents rarely or never knewwhere they were
Children from Lone Parent families
- Among children aged five to fifteen years in Great Britain, those from lone-parent families were twice as likely to have a mental health problem as those from intact two-parent families (16% versus 8%).
- Have more trouble in school – After controlling for other demographic factors, children from lone-parent households were 3.3 times more likely to report problems with their academic work, and 50% more likely to report difficulties with teachers
- Analysis of 35 cases of fatal abuse which were the subject of public inquiries between 1968 and 1987 showed a risk for children living with their mother and an unrelated man which was over 70 times higher than it would have been for a child with two married biological parents.
- Are more likely to run away from home – children from lone-parent families are twice as likely to run away from home as those from two-birth-parent families (14% compared to 7%).
Criticisms of the New Right view of single parents
This text, Charles Murray and The Underclass (especially from page 62 – ‘The Focus on Single Mothers’) provides some useful criticisms of the above statistics – As follows:
‘Murray’s thesis may have been exaggerated for effect, so as to get his main point over, but making scapegoats of single mothers for society’s ills does not help us to approach the serious issues raised by the growing proportion of one-parent families.
This growth has to be seen in the context of changes in social attitudes across the wider society. We live in an age when over 90 per cent of those aged between 18 and 34 do not consider pre-marital sex to be particularly wrong, and when divorce and cohabitation are increasing and are being seen as acceptable at all levels of society.
We may want to seek ways to counter these developments at an individual level, but is not easy to see how we can turn back the clock to a less permissive age—short of a massive religious revival or draconian laws which attempt to control private behaviour between adults.’
NB – It’s not just single parents that CIVITAS have got it in for – in their ‘The facts behind cohabitation Fact Sheet‘ they provide more misleading statistics on how marriage is better than cohabitation
A brief video I put together to help revise the Functionalist, Marxist and New Right Perspectives on Education – basically just some key points and evaluations for each of these sociological theories.
Functionalism – Social solidarity, skills for work, bridge between home and society, role allocation and meritocracy
Marxism – The reproduction and legitimation of class inequality and the correspondence principle
The New Right – Marketisation, league tables, the National Curriculum and New Vocationalism
The slide show goes through each perspective three times – each repeat has less information. The idea is that you can test yourself as you go….. It’s deliberately designed to be ‘no frills’ btw!
In the 1980s New Right thinkers argued that government policy was undermining the family so policy changes were needed. Their thinking dominated policy development from 1979 to 1997.
Like Functionalists, the New Right hold the view that there is only one correct or normal family type. This is the traditional or conventional nuclear family. Again like Functionalists, The New Right sees this family as ‘natural’ and based on fundamental biological differences between men and women. In their view this family is the cornerstone of society; a place of contentment, refuge and harmony. Finally the New Right argue that the decline of the traditional family and the growth of family diversity are the cause of many social problems such as higher crime rates and declining moral standards generally
The New Right believe that it is important for children to have a stable home, with married mother and father, and that ideally the wife should be able to stay at home to look after the children.
They believe that the introduction of the welfare state led to a culture where people depend on hand-outs from the state and that these encourage single parenting, which in turn, they argue leads to deviancy and a decline in morality.
New Right thinking encouraged the conservative government to launch the Back to Basics campaign 1993 to encourage a return to traditional family values. This was criticised for being unsuccessful, and hypocritical due some Conservative MPs being found to be having affairs or being divorced.
Evidence for ‘non-nuclear families’ being a problem
- The rate of family breakdown is much lower amongst married couples (6% compared to 20%)
- Children from broken homes are almost five times more likely to develop emotional problems
- Young people whose mother and father split up are also three times as likely to become aggressive or badly behaved
- Lone-parent families are more than twice as likely to live in poverty as two-parent families.
- Children from broken homes are nine times more likely to become young offenders.”
Criticisms of the New Right view of the family
- They exaggerate the decline of the Nuclear family. Most adults still marry and have children. Most children are reared by their two natural parents. Most marriages continue until death. Divorce has increased, but most divorcees remarry.
- Feminism – gender roles are socially determined rather than being fixed by biology. Traditional gender roles are oppressive to women.
- Feminism – divorce being easier is good because without it many women end up being trapped in unhappy or abusive relationships.
- Most single parents are not welfare scroungers – most want to work but find it difficult to find jobs that are flexible enough so they can balance work and child care.
- Chester (see later!) argues that the New Right exaggerate the extent of cohabiting and single parent families – most children still spend most of their lives in a nuclear family arrangement
*price will fluctuate with dollar exchange rate
Related Posts (both of which criticise The New Right)
The Troubled Families Programme – A current social policy which the New Right agree with
The Feminist View of The Family
The Late Modern View of The Family
The New Right Perspective on the family is a key part of the families and households module within A-level sociology.