Colonizing Family: A Feminist Critique of Family Management Texts

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There is a long tradition of applying managerial techniques and principles to more efficiently manage domestic and familial responsibilities. We argue that such appropriations of corporate practices, language, and thinking not only obscure distinctions between home and work but also integrate work values, patterns, and perspectives into everyday constructions of family life so thoroughly as to bring into question what a family is and what values, practices, and relationships make family life different from the corporate world. Using a feminist poststructuralist perspective, we analyze three texts illustrating the insinuation of managerialism into popular family management prescriptions. We conclude by critically examining four discursive strategies in these texts: (a) moral dichotomies; (b) managerial metaphors; (c) coopted concepts; and (d) emphasis on individualized choice. Our critique highlights the ironies that open these strategies to contestation and alternatives.

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Journal of Family Communication, v. 7, issue 4, p. 245-263