'Family' values and the privatisation of welfare

Kathrine Galloway

Research output: Contribution to journalOnline ResourceProfessional


[Extract] A couple of news items in the weekend papers have piqued my interest in the ongoing conservative putsch to retain the centrality of the family in society. The first of these was a story about the Federal Opposition MP, Kevin Andrews, who has signalled a 'socially conservative change' to welfare policy under a coalition government. (Andrews' views on family are well known.)

The second is a piece in the Weekend Australian by Catholic pro-family conservative writer, Angela Shanahan opining about the importance for women of marrying a stable man. For the children.

These uncritical views rely on a combination of sentimentality and 'facts' about how society benefits from this institution. What they fail to reveal is the history of paternal control over women and children central to the effective operation of the family in a patriarchal society. And by family, what they mean is a married heterosexual procreative union.

These views of family implicitly blame single mothers and their children for the breakdown of society. I maintain that it is instead the narrow construction of the institution of 'family' that feeds into the moral (conservative) panic of social collapse. What we need instead is a re-imagining of society.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCurl: Property law, women and law, contemporary legal issues
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes


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