Monday, December 20, 2010


In our time (now) and in our place (here), the institution of marriage is supposed to be assimilated into the institution of family, becoming its very nucleus. This institution, too, exists in a substantially, if not radically, different form than it did even prior to WWII. The failure rate of this institution is, perhaps not surprisingly, expanding nearly on pace with marriage. Though "family" is a term that has shifted and morphed through time and is something that often looked different from place to place, class to class, etc, it is, just like marriage, becoming increasingly incoherent. Consider this passage from Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick:

Think of that entity "the family," an impacted social space in which all of the following are meant to line up perfectly with each other:

a surname
a sexual dyad
a legal unit based on state-regulated marriage
a circuit of blood relationships
a system of companionship and succor
a building
a proscenium between "private" and "public"
an economic unit of earning and taxation
the prime site of economic consumption
the prime site of cultural consumption
a mechanism to produce, care for, and acculturate children
a mechanism for accumulating material goods over several generations
a daily routine
a unit in a community of worship
a site of patriotic formation

and of course the list could go on.

from Tendencies, pg. 6

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