|[Photo by Chris Arnade.]|
Sec. 60.207. - F.
One (1) or two (2) persons or parents, with their direct lineal descendants and adopted or legally cared for children (and including the domestic employees thereof) together with not more than two (2) persons not so related, living together in the whole or part of a dwelling comprising a single housekeeping unit. Every additional group of four (4) or fewer persons living in such housekeeping unit shall be considered a separate for the purpose of this code.
Basically more than four adults who are not "direct lineal" cannot be a "family" under this definition.
I was listening to the David Harvey Anti-Capitalist Chronicles podcast, much of which is quite good, digestable commentary on current political or economic affairs, or Harvey explaining basic Marxist concepts. The other day he uploaded a great conversation between Harvey and geographer Cindi Katz about the Marxist concept of "social reproduction." In other words, how we organize everyday life -- community arrangements around food, clothing, shelter, and child-rearing -- to ensure the welfare of future generations.
Along the way, Katz discusses how the concept of "the family" has played a central role in so mu h of our culture and how this occurred. Social reproduction in everyday life is her specialty, and I found her discussion of the concept to be very interesting.
Cindy Katz: Of course its very hard to get into social reproduction very far without getting into question of what is a household, what is family... What do we mean by family? What is communal work, you know processes and can you speak a little bit about all of that?
CK: First off all the notion of what is a family or a household is itself a question of social reproduction. (You’ll see that for me everything is social reproduction.) [laughs]
But in many ways, it is. So that how we constitute what is a normal household, what is a family, how do we feed clothe and take care of future generations, [that\ is a heteronormative idea. It's completely classed and radicalized.
And ways around or under these conditions, might be to share, to have an extended family…
I was just at this workshop on adolescence in Africa, and the idea of the extended family being able to absorb many of these sorts of [economic] shocks is something that we’ve offloaded onto individual households. And the pressure on the heteronormative nuclear family is huge.
But there’s also a sense of, where does the labor to sustain it come from? So the more global question of social reproduction is [that] we see so much labor migration, and that’s a radicalized question [about] where inequalities among countries come from.
We have domestic laborers who come to the Global North and to work in wealthier households, but even upper-middle class households, as relatively cheap labor, because they come as lone migrants for the most part. And their children in their households are being sustained by their extended family, again, in a stressed and disinvested state.
And by having domestic labor who can help privileged families, the gendered division of labor doesn’t really change. And the kind of exploitation that’s trans-local, and goes across national boundaries, is enormous.
But there are incredible transfers of wealth in that way, around the [concept off the] household, and [these transfers] stabilize the kind of heteronormative, white household. And that moves to having sets of struggles around redefining the household and domestic labor and how it can get accomplished.Katz argues that the nuclear family is rooted both in the exploitation of women through a long history of patriarchal inequality, and also rooted in the exploitation of poor people through colonial and post-colonial inequality. After all, who is taking care of children and the elderly, in many cases, throughout American cities?
I would love to see the notion of the family removed from the zoning code altogether. Our cities need to make sure we are allowing a diversity of different kinds of communities and relationships, including intentional communities, extended families, cousins, grandparents, and basically anyone who considers themselves as such.
Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of the conversation if you are into good podcasts.