Wadham College MCR presents:

Dr Nicole Barker to speak on the topic: 'Same-Sex Marriage and the Politics of Austerity'

Thursday 13th March, 5.30pm, Gillese-Badun Seminar Room, Wadham College


In my previous work, I argued that the critiques of marriage that were made during what is commonly referred to as the second wave of feminism not only remain significant to contemporary marriage but in some ways have become even more pertinent in light of the role that the institution of marriage plays in the neoliberal state. In this paper I expand on that argument, highlighting the ways in which same-sex marriage fits comfortably within conservative ideology to all those except the most homophobic and supports the politics of state austerity. Examining the reasons advanced by Conservatives for introducing and supporting same-sex marriage alongside other policies of the Conservative Party, particularly those relating to ‘family values’ and the cuts to the welfare state, highlights the ways in which same-sex marriage contributes to a broader conservative policy package. I conclude that the Conservative proposal of same-sex marriage is also a proposal to the lesbian and gay communities to renew both the institution of marriage and the reputation of the Conservative Party, tarnished by its characterization as ‘the nasty party’. Behind that proposal lies an intention of sexual regulation of both low-income couples more generally and ‘sexually promiscuous’ gay men in particular, through financial incentives to marry and remain married.

Dr. Nicola Barker is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Kent Law School, where she teaches family law and public law. She is the author of several articles on marriage and civil partnerships, as well as the book Not the Marrying Kind: A Feminist Critique of Same-Sex Marriage (Palgrave, 2012), which won the Hart/Socio-Legal Studies Association book prize 2013.