Gender and New Labour: after the male breadwinner model?

Gillian Pascall

in Social Policy Review 20

Published by Policy Press

Published in print June 2008 | ISBN: 9781847420763
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447303473 | DOI:
Gender and New Labour: after the male breadwinner model?

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New Labour's accession marked a changed in government assumptions in gender. Under the previous Labour government, health and education legislation had given significant citizenship rights to women and men equally while the 1970s brought equal opportunities and sex discrimination legislation. These brought women into employment and public life, but the male breadwinner model of the family remained through the aspects of Thatcher and Major government policy until 1997 where women were able to join the labour market, become Members of the Parliament (MP) and ministers, but were not to expect government support in gender relations at home, or through any national system of childcare. The New Labour government introduced new ideas on gender, with more liberal attitude to varied family forms, including a strong expectation that women's responsibilities lay in employment as well as parenting, that they should be expected to support themselves and their children and pay for their own pensions. This chapter looks at the way in which New Labour in the UK has moved away from the male breadwinner model of welfare policy, and at the impact that recent developments have had on policies on employment, care, the division of labour and time, income and the political process. It shows how, in comparison with the more gender-friendly social democratic ‘Nordic’ model of gender policy, New Labour's continued commitment to the neo-liberal model has compromised its achievement on gender equality.

Keywords: New Labour; gender; equal opportunities; sex discrimination legislation; women; men; male breadwinner model; gender relations; welfare policy

Chapter.  9317 words. 

Subjects: Social Research and Statistics

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