Examine the ways in which laws and social policies affect family life
Currently, in the UK, the family is a fairly unregulated sphere of life, compared with different societies such as China. Laws and social policies in Britain today tend to encourage or discourage certain types of families, rather than actively enforcing them like China’s one child policy. Government agencies and institutions only seem to take an active role on policing areas of family life when things are perceived to have gone wrong, such as regulating the fair distribution of assets following the breakdown of a marriage.
Most current social policies in the UK come from a New Labour perspective, as this party have been in power for almost 12 years. Therefore, many of these current social policies encourage the existence of the family, although not just in the nuclear form endorsed by the New Right. For instance new labour modified the law so that unmarried cohabiting couples, both heterosexual and homosexual, had the right to adopt on a basis equivalent to that of a married couple. This has made adopting easier for unmarried couples with fertility issues, but the biggest change to have resulted from it is that homosexual couples can now, fairly easily, adopt children, leading to a much more diverse range of families.
This change has been heavily criticised by New Right thinkers, who claim that it further undermines the nuclear family, by removing the restriction on unmarried couples from adopting children. They also claim that, due to not being raised in the “natural” environment of the nuclear family, that children adopted in this manner will be more likely to take part in anti-social behaviour, and even criminal activities.
However, most feminists are in favour of cohabiting couples being afforded similar rights to a married couple. Liberal feminists see it as another step towards equality, moving away from a familistic gender regime, as it removes many of the roles impressed...
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