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Family Policy in Britain

2. Family Policy in the 1960s

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About this Lecture


In this lecture, we think about the hugely important family policy changes implemented by Harold Wilson’s Labour government of 1964-70, focusing in particular on: (i) legal changes around family planning and birth control, such as the legalisation of abortion; (ii) liberalising social reforms, including the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967 and the Divorce Reform Act of 1969; (iii) policies around financial support and employment, such increases in family allowances and the Equal Pay Act of 1970.


In this course, Professor Pat Thane (Birkbeck, University of London) explores family policy in Britain since the 1960s. In the first lecture, we set the context by thinking about some key features of family life prior to the 1960s. In the second lecture, we consider policies introduced by the Labour government of 1964-70. In the third lecture, we look at the impacts of these reforms and further changes implemented Labour governments between 1974 and 1979. Next, we look at the policies of the Conservative governments of 1979-97. In the fifth lecture, we explore the New Labour years from 1997 to 2010. In the sixth and final lecture, we look at some important policy changes that have occurred since 2010.


Professor Pat Thane is Visiting Professor in History at Birkbeck, University of London. She researches twentieth century British history, with a focus on social policy. Her recent publications include Divided Kingdom: A History of Britain, 1900 to the Present (2018), Sinners? Scroungers? Saints? Unmarried Motherhood in Twentieth Century England (2012) (with Tanya Evans) and Happy Families? History and Family Policy (2011).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Thane, P. (2021, August 24). Family Policy in Britain - Family Policy in the 1960s [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Thane, P. "Family Policy in Britain – Family Policy in the 1960s." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 24 Aug 2021,

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