New Labour, Work and the Family

Driver, Stephen and Martell, Luke (2002) New Labour, Work and the Family. Social Policy and Administration, 36 (1). pp. 46-61. ISSN 0144-5596

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New Labour has put support for the family at the core of its notion of the "strong community". Across a range of policy areas the Labour government can be seen to be developing a direct and explicit family policy. But what kind of community is the government trying to shape by these policies? On the one hand, Labour appears to support the family as the basis of a more moral, dutiful and cohesive community. On the other hand, the government has given weight to policies that support social inclusion in the community through paid work. This paper examines whether there is a tension in Labour's social policies between its emphasis on the importance of stable family life and the primacy given to paid work. Are critics like Ruth Levitas right when they argue that the government's emphasis on paid work devalues, and is unsupportive of, unpaid work, especially caring for children and other family members? Alternatively, can this combination of communitarianisms—community as "stable family" and community as "paid work"—be seen to be marking out some "third way" on the family? We shall show that different aspects of the government's family policies reflect different perspectives and policy agendas within New Labour and third-way thinking more broadly. And while recognizing the tensions between work and the family, we shall suggest that they are often overstated and fail to give sufficient weight to the complementary aspects of Labour's welfare reforms.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: New Labour Family Policy Community
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Sociology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
H Social Sciences > HQ The Family. Marriage. Women
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
J Political Science > JC Political theory. The state. Theories of the state
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Depositing User: Luke Martell
Date Deposited: 27 Jul 2007
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2017 23:54
Google Scholar:31 Citations

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