Disconnected relationship values and marriage policies in England
The article examines relationship values which influence the government’s marriage-related policies. It constructs a framework of core values as the ‘conception of the desirable’ to highlight a central problem for the government: there are many conflicting values that can be identified as potentially relevant. Traditional morality and equality highlight marriage as the ultimate goal for heterosexual and same-sex couples by emphasising responsibility, commitment and stability to encourage and strengthen couple relationships. The articulation of these values associated with celebrating marriage is evident in policies such as transferable tax allowances for married couples and couple relationship education. However, marriage is a public and a private institution which encompasses disconnected values. The article analyses the different values that policy-makers confront by examining evidence from interviews with stakeholders which suggests that marriage-related policies do not necessarily resonate with various actors’ understanding of relationship values. They compete with values such as individual autonomy, the desire for financial security and diverse relationships.
Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law
Law not elsewhere classified