New Right And The Family

New Right And The Family New Right (1979-1997) is a group led by Functionalists and Conservative leaders and thinkers, like Charles Murray. The 1950’s are considered the ‘Golden Age’ of family, where every family was a traditional, nuclear family. This idea was broken in the 60’s and 70’s by a permissive society, which ‘attacked’ family values.

Hippies and mini-skirts and pot-smoking was rife, and this permissive society abolished previous norms and values that society had put on a pedestal for so long; ideals that the Conservative party still hold onto today. Because of new laws, things started to change in society. New families were born and new ideas were unleashed. It happened way back when...

Around the 60’s:

  • Abortions were legalized
  • The contraceptive pill became free
  • Homosexuality was decriminalized
  • The homosexual age of consent was lowered

The first two points gave women the freedom to control their bodies and their fertility. Also, there were Acts brought in to give women more freedom and the opportunity to be more equal with men. Some example of these Acts are:

  • Sex Discrimination Act 1975
  • Equal Pay Act 1970
  • Equal Opportunities Act 1995
  • Divorce Reform Act 1969

New Right says that these Laws and Acts took women away from their natural roles, e.g. housewife and mother. Also, because of these Acts and Laws, there are a lot higher divorce rates and a lot more lone-parents families around today.

Because there exists lone-parent families, New Right and Functionalists believe that they are to blame for society’s negatives. They believe lone-parent families are incredibly bad for the individual, and cause problematic areas in society such as:

  • They cause social problems
  • Children lack both role models
  • They have financial problems and therefore live off Government Benefits
  • They are responsible for crime
  • They underachieve
  • They’re more susceptible to drug and alcohol abuse
  • They’re more likely to live in poverty

New Right and Functionalists do not like them because they believe that lone-parent families are responsible for all that is wrong for their precious sociological theory that society is an absolute positive thing.

New Right and Functionalists - Their Familial Ideology

New Right and Functionalists believe that the best and only type of family is the traditional, nuclear family. This is a family of two heterosexual adults, who are married and in a sexual relationship, producing children and teaching them the same norms and values that they were taught when they were children.

George Murdock defined the family as:

“A social group characterized by common residence, economic cooperation, and reproduction. It includes adults of both sexes, at least two of whom maintain a socially approved relationship, and one or more children, own or adopted, of the sexually cohabiting adults."

The New Right Familial Ideology:

  • Is patriarchal - the family is male dominant. Feminists argue that this is negative for women
  • Ignores the dark side of the family e.g. domestic abuse, poverty, conflict
  • Is harmful, calling other family-types ‘inadequate’ - schools, advertisements and television reinforce this idea
  • Is anti-social - it stereotypes, labels and discriminates against other family-types; ‘inadequate’
  • Has a ‘Them and Us’ theory - Nuclear families are the only family type, other family types aren’t families

In fact, there are many types of families, and they are just as adequate as the nuclear family. Sometimes, nuclear families are really bad to be part of, especially if there is domestic abuse, child abuse, drug abuse and constant arguments. A lot of the time, they are unequal, as the man has the instrumental role of the breadwinner (the person bringing home the money), whereas women have to have the emotional role of the domestics, such as housewife and mother. So, I shall list the other family types, and try to outline positives and negatives (if any) of them.

Lone-Parent Family


  • The parent works harder to provide for his/her children
  • It encourages males to be more domestic and emotional, and women to be more financially wise and occupationally driven
  • Children may be freed of parental arguments and get the brunt of both lone-parents/ the single parents’ happiness


  • This type of family is increasing, and some lone-parents don’t bother with work and feed off of benefits
  • Parent may get stressed with doing everything him/herself and take it out on their children
  • There may be a chance of poverty with a single wage
  • Custody battles

Extended Family


  • Automatic baby-sitter for parents’ going out nights
  • Family are closer to grandparents/members of family living with them


  • More mouths to feed, more people to cloth, so less money for luxuries
  • More painful if a member passes away, as everyone is close
  • Could get heated arguments due to monetary problems

Reformed Family


  • Children have more companions to socialize with
  • More money coming in than lone-parent family, possibly, due to two parents


  • Children may not get on with step-families
  • May be a lot of people to feed and clothe; monetary problems

Homosexual Family


  • Homosexuals get the same rights as heterosexual families
  • Homosexual parents may try harder to provide for the child to prove they deserve their opportunity
  • There has to be no gender inequality; partners get to decide their roles


  • Children may be bullied at school
  • Arguments about roles

Sibling Family


  • Children are more independent; siblings are closer
  • Oldest child learns responsibilities for future parental role


  • Siblings fight; could cause friction and could end up physical fights
  • Oldest child could still be quite young, and will have less work opportunities open to them
  • Monetary problems - schooling may get in the way of holding down a job, and bills may pile up

As a child from a lone-parent family, and having experienced a number of people in all of these family types, I can say that to me, a nuclear family is not the best. If my parents had stayed together a few more years, their relationship would be even more damaged, and my mother would not have gained the respect from us that she got for working so hard to provide.

I know people who never knew their father, who never see their father anymore, and in one case will never see their father anymore. I also know someone who rarely sees their mother. But on the whole, they are happy, healthy and good people.

We do not cause crime where we live, any of us. We do not live in total poverty; we have enough to survive on a working class wage. We are not underachievers, but overachievers; we are encouraged to make a life for ourselves so we can look after our families, younger and older, when we grow up. We have our role models; our parents we live with are our heroes for their hard work. And we are not a social problem; we are a benefit to society.

Now, I’m not saying nuclear families are evil. I’m saying, that not every couple belongs together. Bad things may happen. Sometimes it is better to have two separate parent figures, and not one parent item that doesn’t get along. These are my views from my experience and the experiences of people I know and used to know.

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