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Against the Romance of Community

Miranda Joseph
Copyright Date: 2002
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Against the Romance of Community
    Book Description:

    Miranda Joseph explores sites where the ideal of community relentlessly recurs, from debates over art and culture in the popular media, to the discourses and practices of nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations. She shows how community legitimates the social hierarchies of gender, race, nation, and sexuality that capitalism implicitly requires. Exposing the complicity of social practices, identities, and communities with capitalism, this truly constructive critique opens the possibility of genuine alliances across such differences.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9277-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. INTRODUCTION: Persistent Critique, Relentless Return
    (pp. vii-xxxvi)

    The self-evidence, the commonplace, that I hope to assist in wearing away here is community. I hope that this book will give pause, will insert a hesitation into the next sentence you utter that seems inevitably to requirecommunity.I hope that hesitation will open a space for creative thinking about the constitution of collective action, where the termcommunitywould operate so effectively to shut down such thought. Community is almost always invoked as an unequivocal good, an indicator of a high quality of life, a life of human understanding, caring, selflessness, belonging. One does one’s volunteer work in...

  4. CHAPTER ONE The Supplementarity of Community with Capital; or, A Critique of the Romantic Discourse of Community
    (pp. 1-29)

    Deployments of community, both verbal invocations and practices, are conditioned by a larger discourse of community, a pervasive way of thinking and doing community that would seem to answer all the important questions before they have even been asked, that sets the terms in which we might ask questions, and that shapes what we can see and do and even who we are. What I call the discourse of community positions community as the defining other of modernity, of capitalism. This discourse includes a Romantic narrative of community as prior in time to “society,” locating community in a long-lost past...

  5. CHAPTER TWO The Performance of Production and Consumption
    (pp. 30-68)

    This chapter offers what might be called a general theory of social formations, though it is specifically concerned to articulate the formation of those groupings calledcommunitiesand even more specifically those contemporary identity-based communities that social theory refers to as “new social movements.” The theory I offer brings the insights of poststructuralism with regard to the performativity, constructedness, and discursivity of identity together with a modified but nonetheless substantially Marxist view that social organization is implicit in the organization of production. The argument moves in two directions, showing the performativity of production and the productivity of performance. On the...

  6. CHAPTER THREE Not for Profit? Voluntary Associations and the Willing Subject
    (pp. 69-118)

    A reckoning with nonprofit organizations is inevitable in this project on the relationship of community with capitalism. Nonprofits would appear to have a very important relation to community. In 2000 the Web site of the Independent Sector—“A national leadership forum working to encourage giving, volunteering, not-for-profit initiative and citizen action”—claimed that “It is difficult to imagine a community without a community Food Bank, a Mothers Against Drunk Driving chapter, a community museum, or a Friends of the Zoo.” At least in the United States, when the imaginary of community is invoked, nonprofits are a central feature and, conversely,...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR The Perfect Moment: Gays, Christians, and the National Endowment for the Arts
    (pp. 119-145)

    Beginning in 1989 and continuing through the early 1990s, a public controversy took place over the funding practices of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Christian conservatives attacked the NEA for funding the creation and exhibition of artworks by gay and feminist artists, works that they deemed obscene. Arts, gay/lesbian, and civil liberties organizations all joined the battle in defense of the NEA.² At various points in the controversy Congress imposed content restrictions on NEA funding,³ but the most significant outcome of the battle has been a dramatic reduction in the funds allocated to the NEA.

    I did ethnographic...

  8. CHAPTER FIVE Kinship and the Culturalization of Capitalism: The Discourse of Global/Localization
    (pp. 146-169)

    In a talk presented at the CLAGS (Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York) conference on Homo Economics and now published inA Queer World,Michael Piore argues that since the 1970s capitalism has become much more tolerant of diversity. He notes that there are more and more businesses catering to the gay market and he claims that “we are developing an entrepreneurial class, a capitalist class of our own.” He says that “it is hardly in the interest of these businesses to assimilate to the dominant culture” and that...

  9. EPILOGUE: What Is to Be Done?
    (pp. 170-174)

    At the University of Arizona, where I currently teach in women’s studies and serve as the head of the Committee on Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual Studies, the gay “community” is highly organized: in addition to the academic unit, in which I am primarily involved, there are organizations for undergraduates, graduate students, staff, librarians, and law students. Most of these groups have e-mail listservs; the staff list is the most active and reaches the widest audience, with participation not only of staff but also faculty and students. Quite frequently, postings circulate on these lists that ask us to call Budweiser or some other corporation...

  10. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 175-178)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 179-198)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 199-218)
  13. Index
    (pp. 219-231)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 232-232)