The family and neoliberalism: time to revive a critique

Bob Brecher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


I argue that the family remains integral to neoliberal capitalism. First, I identify two tensions in the neoliberals’ advocacy of the traditional family: that the “family values” advocated run directly counter to the homo economicus of the “free market”; and the fact that the increasingly strident rhetoric of the family belies its decreasing popularity. The implications of these tensions for how we might think of the family, I then propose, suggest that earlier critiques are worth revisiting for what they have to say about the family – whether in biological or in social form – as a structure of ownership. Finally, I conclude with some embryonic thoughts about the ideological role of that state of affairs in shaping at once our understanding of ‘politics’ and our politics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-167
Number of pages11
JournalEthics and Social Welfare
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Bibliographical note

© 2012 Taylor & Francis


  • capitalism
  • family
  • feminism
  • neoliberalism
  • ownership


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