Evaluating the The New Right View of the Family

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.’

Related Links

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

Functionalist, Marxist and New Right Perspectives on Education

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!

Functionalist, Marxist and New Right Perspectives on Education: Test Yourself…

Once you’ve reviewed the above video you might like to test yourself with the Quizlet below…!


This material has been written specifically for A-level sociology students revising for the A-level sociology AQA exam, the education topic which is part of Paper 1 (SCLY1)

Please click here to return to the homepage – ReviseSociology.com

The New Right View of the Family

The New Right believe the traditional nuclear family is the ideal type of family. They support social policies which encourage nuclear families – they are pro marriage and against benefits for single mothers.

The New Right believe that the traditional nuclear family is best type of family, where both partners are married. The believe this is the most stable environment in which to raise children who will conform to the values of society.

The New Right see married families are better than cohabiting families because the former provide are less likely to break up. They are against single parent families and the Welfare State which they believe encourages higher levels of single parenthood.

The New Right View of the Family

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.

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.

A more recent example of a social policy which the New Right would probably agree with is the The Troubled Families Programme – in which mainly underclass and lone-parent families were targeted with interventions to try and reduce such things as youth offending.

Evidence for ‘non-nuclear families’ being a problem

The main source of the evidence below is the Daily Mail Article below (1), supplement with comments (I won’t call it ‘data’) from the right wing think tank CIVITAS. (2 below).

  • 52% of children born to cohabiting couples see their parents break up before their fifth birthday compared to only 6% of children born to married couples (1)
  • Children from broken homes are almost five times more likely to develop emotional problems.
  • Young people whose mother and father split up are 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.

NB: the political bias of CIVITAS means their research may not be objective and value free.

Criticisms of the New Right view of the family

The New Right relies on correlations between family types and social problems to conclude that children from families which have broken up suffer more social problems than children who remain in two parent families.

However, correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation. It might not be lone parent families that ’cause’ children to have problems. It could be the higher levels of poverty suffered by lone parents, for example.

Similarly wealthier middle class couples are more able to afford the costs of getting married compared to poorer lower class couples, so any higher rates of breakdown among cohabiting. couples may be due to financial pressures as they have less money.

So we should be careful that the New Right view is a biased, middle class view. These are the people who themselves live in stable married nuclear families and this is the type of family they support.

Feminists argue that higher levels of relationship breakdowns and divorce are not necessarily bad. The fact that divorce is easier today is potentially good. This is because it is better for both a woman and a child to be on their own as a single parent family rather than being trapped in unhappy or abusive relationships.

Feminists further argue that gender roles are socially determined rather than being fixed by biology. The traditional gender roles which the New Right tend to support are oppressive to women.

The New Right stereotypes single parents and wages a moral panic against them. 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. They need appropriate social policies in place to enable them. todo this, rather than the pro-marriage policies the New Right support.

The New Right have exaggerated 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.

Signposting and Related Posts

The New Right Perspective on the family is a key part of the families and households module within A-level sociology.

The Feminist View of The Family – criticises the New Right view.

The Late Modern View of The Family – criticises the New Right view.

Please click here to return to the homepage – ReviseSociology.com


(1) The Daily Mail (2008) : Broken Home Children are ‘Five Times More Likely to Suffer Mental Troubles’, based on a Department for Health funded Study which sampled 8000 children aged between 5 and 16 in 2004,


*That’s how flakey ‘research’ fro CIVITAS is, probably best NOT to trust it! Link provided here for historical context and entertainment purposes only!