Caring Against the Family: Kinship, State, and Social Reproduction
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Traditionally, the nuclear family is posited as the prime location to meet both material and relational needs. Within poststructuralism, this primacy emerges out of a heteronormative framework of legitimation, in which certain forms of kinship become legible while others do not (Butler 2004). In a socialist feminist account, the nuclear family provides a specific form of organizing reproductive labor (Bhattacharya 2017b). Accordingly, it plays a role in reproducing labor power, as well as the systemic conditions of capitalism. The integrated approach to capitalism and heteronormativity developed here, presents the family as an institution constituted through a specific form of performative, reproductive, skilled labor within the normative regulation of the state (Floyd 2009; R. Ferguson 2004). The emergent institution, however, internalizes a number of contradictions. On the one hand, it is structured by public forms of normativity and on the other, it plays a role in upholding them. These contradictions are further embedded within the systemic contradictions in capitalism (Jaeggi 2018; Fraser 2017). This has a paradoxical result: While the family manifests these crisis tendencies, it also holds potential to resolve them that emerge out of the contradictions of reproductive labor. In line with this, the contradictions of capitalism and the family can structure a post-capitalist imaginary through the lens of more adequately organizing social reproduction. Finally, these contradictions take place in an environment structured by the state. To account for this, the final chapter presents a prefigurative image of reorganized social reproduction. The Swiss institution of civil service, or in German Zivildienst, works to illustrate this (Bundesamt für Zivildienst ZIVI 2018). Specifically, it is discussed by virtue of its ability to externalize the contradictions that the family has internalized.