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New Right perspective on the family Cheat Sheet by

Family content for A level sociology

Introd­uction to the New Right

- The New Right is closely linked to Functi­onalism as it is based on consensus.
- It is a set of ideas which has influenced the political right/­Con­ser­vative party in recent years.
- The New Right are pessim­istic about modern society and want to return to the 'golden age' which emphasises tradit­ional values.

Statistics and sociol­ogists for New Right views

- Single 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).
- Single mothers were 2.5 times more likely than married mothers to experience high levels of psycho­logical distress.
- 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
- 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%).
- 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.
- 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%).
- The Welfare state is causing the disint­egr­ation of the nuclear family as benefits encourage teenage pregnancy and single parent families who lose control of their children (Murray 1990)
- Children, especially boys, raised by single mothers are likely to experience problems at school as well as poor health compared with children raised in nuclear families (Dennis and Erdos)

New Right views on 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.
- The New Right also dislike single mothers, suggesting that they are poorer and raise children who are less likely to obey authority
- Like functi­ona­lists, they believe the nuclear family is the foundation of society and that society would collapse without the nuclear family

Criticisms of the New Right

- New Right thinkers often hark back to a 'golden age' of family life that probably never existed.
- Bernardes (1997): The nuclear family portrayed by the New Right is 'too good to be true' and fails to acknow­ledge the negative side of the family
- ‘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.
- 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.
- Chambers (2001): The New Right has created undue fears - a moral panic - about so-called problem families in order to justify cuts in welfare spending
- It can be seen as victim blaming


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