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Family Policy in Britain

4. Family Policy in the 1980s and 1990s

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About this Lecture


In this lecture, we think about the change in orientation of family policy under the Conservative governments of 1979-97, intended to strengthen the traditional two-parent family, focusing in particular on: (i) key Conservative policies, including reductions in child benefit and the Child Support Act, which compelled absent fathers to provide financial support to their children; (ii) the continued rise in divorce and single-parent households which occurred despite government policy; (iii) the increase in child poverty and unemployment in this period and its impact on families.


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 1980s and 1990s [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Thane, P. "Family Policy in Britain – Family Policy in the 1980s and 1990s." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 24 Aug 2021,

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