Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Crooked Timber. Kieran Healy from 2007, in re: their discussion of old roomie's book in 2012.

The post and comments: the defense both of socialized caregiving and the caregiving of servants. The defense of 24/7 nanny service. The worries about increasing privatization of caregiving (meaning the caregiving of family) as if families care for each other more now rather than less.
The source: the post at Scatterplot

My first 3 comments, out of 6.

”He took the job because it was a dream job for him, a chance to do something exciting, fun and interesting. He was “owed” in our relationship because he had already moved twice for my job. His first choice would have been for him to have the good job without the travel, but that wasn’t an option. To be honest, I’m selfish enough that I would have preferred that he keep his bad job and make my life easier, but I cared about him, agreed he was owed, and knew why he really wanted to do it, so I signed off.”
"He was owed", not even "I owed him".
Communication as contract: between the selfish and self-conscious, but not un-self-aware. All the grey areas in a relationship described as lines. I’m sure she feels the children were “owed” too. It was unreadable.
The use of the passive voice.
Kieran, try reading the paragraphs as if they were the words of a narrator in a work of fiction. Don’t read the words as content, read them as form. Then think about what they might imply about the narrator’s relation to her role and to others.
#32 "KC"
Many of these posts overlook the structural constraints on her choices. Her story perfectly illustrates the fact that parents and children suffer the more we privatize caregiving.
Which reminds me of Harry Brighouse on Legitimate Parental Partiality
These relationships are inegalitarian in deep ways. The parties to partial relationships can exclude others from the mutual benefits their association yields and have special responsibilities to one another that give them the right, and sometimes the duty, to further one another’s interests. To give scope to these relationships is to limit what may be done in pursuit of equality. Samuel Scheffler calls this observation (when made in an appropriately hostile manner) the ‘distributive objection’ to special responsibilities: ‘the distributive objection asserts that the problem with such responsibilities is not that they may place unfair burdens on their bearers, but rather that they may confer unfair benefits...special responsibilities give the participants in rewarding groups and relationships increased claims to one another’s assistance, while weakening the claims that other people have on them’. Participants in these protected relationships benefit twice over. They enjoy the quality of the relationship itself, and they enjoy the claims that the relationship enables them legitimately to make on one another, at the expense of those excluded from the relationship.
 #33 "c.l. ball"
24/7 nanny coverage means hiring three full-time (8 hour shift) nannies, down to two when your kid is able to sleep through night regularly. Having a nanny on shift does not mean you never interact with the kid. It can mean that while your playing outside he or she is doing the kid’s laundry. It means that when a colleague returns your calls while your playing or feeding your child, you can take the call without yelling for your spouse to stop what she’s doing to watch your child. I’ve seen the stress-levels that dual professional couples with dual-nannies display around the house. It’s a lot less than the stress-levels at mine, where there are no nannies.

Why assume that nannies still have kids at home? Some have adult children or have not yet had children.
[Krugman, now famously: "Pretty soon, we’ll be having serious, completely un-self-conscious discussions in major magazines about the servant problem." At the beginning of that post he links to DeLong. of all people]

In the discussion of Graeber's book, this passage quoted in comments, from elsewhere (not David), stands in well for many of the arguments:
Our belief in negotiated commitment – that people are not obligated to relationships they did not choose – is like one of those devastating European germs that white settlers spread throughout the world three centuries ago. We are immune; our families are based on negotiated commitments and (though they are far from perfect) work quite well in that environment – as long as we can maintain the social safety net….
Liberals have a vision of how the world should be. I believe in that vision. It is a fairer, more just world than has ever existed before. It is better adjusted to the realities of modern life. And it is, in my opinion, the only vision of the future that does not eventually lead to competing fundamentalisms fighting a world war.
"Our belief in negotiated commitment – that people are not obligated to relationships they did not choose". The fantasy of the end of community and the triumph of the individual free will. If contracts are between strangers, liberalism has turned even our partners and our children into strangers.

David's book seems as sloppy as his political arguments: his failure is that he's an individualist with fantasies of community.

The point is to understand the constitutive function of community and the fantasies of individualism—a community of individualists is a herd of independent minds—without having fantasies about anything.

Comments at the 2007 thread at Crooked Timber are reposted above
Absurd or amusing, the author of the passage above is a Unitarian
2014. Wolfgang Streeck makes my argument. I read it for the first time in 2022
In the order that seems to be emerging, social bonds are construed as a matter of taste and choice rather than of obligation, making communities appear as voluntary associations from which one can resign if they require excessive self-denial, rather than as ‘communities of fate’ with which one either rises or goes under.

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