Citizens, Families, and Reform

Front Cover
Clarendon Press, 1997 - Political Science - 190 pages
Should children have the right to vote? How important is the family? Is the end of class inequality in sight? Professor Ringen tackles these and other crucial questions in this engaging and provocative new work on the possiblities for social and welfare reform in modern democracies. Taking liberty as the central value of democracies, Professor Ringen argues that the role of democratic government is necessarily limited: it cannot take action which trespasses on individual liberty. Liberty is, however, not the only value in democracy; democracy is also about equality. Therefore democratic government is condemned to action: it has to do something about persistent injustice. Is there a middle ground to be found between the two ideals of liberty and equality? Professor Ringen argues that in the areas of family and welfare policy there is. However, real democracies are necessarily imperfect and the author warns against 'the terrible temptation towards perfection'. Instead, Professor Ringen argues for a notion of rationality governed by restrained self-interest, the civic spirit, and advances a theory based on the conservative values of family and personal responsibility, combined with radical reform.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


Reason and Restraint
Hard Facts about Soft Values

7 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (1997)

Stein Ringen, Professor of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Oxford; and Fellow, Green College, Oxford.

Bibliographic information