Autonomy Myth: A Theory of Dependency

Autonomy Myth: A Theory of Dependency

by Martha Albertson Fineman
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions


A brilliant exposé of the contradiction between the American myth of self-reliance and the reality of an interdependent society.

With the controversy over gay marriages grabbing national headlines, traditional conceptions of family in American society have become subject to increasingly fierce debate. In The Autonomy Myth, influential and

Overview


A brilliant exposé of the contradiction between the American myth of self-reliance and the reality of an interdependent society.

With the controversy over gay marriages grabbing national headlines, traditional conceptions of family in American society have become subject to increasingly fierce debate. In The Autonomy Myth, influential and always-provocative legal theorist Martha Albertson Fineman expands the terms of the debate even further to argue for public policy that reflects the realities of how we live together.

As Fineman points out, those charged with administering U.S. social policy have long considered the marital family household as both separate and self-sufficient, often at the cost of the well-being of many families and their members, especially children. Vigorously taking issue with this approach, Fineman makes the compelling case that the sexually affiliated couple is not the appropriate building block for contemporary families. Instead, she argues, society should be organized around "caretaking relationships," particularly those involving children or elderly dependents. In this paradigm-shifting book Fineman insists that, because each of us is "inevitably dependent" at various stages in our lives, it makes far more sense for us to recognize from the outset that society as a whole has a vital role to play in providing assistance.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Noble and hackneyed, from literature ("no man is an island") to pop music ("he ain't heavy, he's my brother"), the idea of humankind's need for one another has probably been around for as long as humankind itself. With the evolution of small, nuclear families, however, the job of caring for others has largely fallen on the traditional, sexually affiliated couple in the family unit, a perception that has been enforced by public policy decisions. Director of the Feminism and Legal Theory Project and Robert Woodruff Professor at Emory Law School, Fineman has taken issue with family law in the past; she previously laid siege to the traditional family unit in The Neutered Mother, the Sexual Family. She now challenges the widely held assumption that these separate family units and our high regard for privacy and self-sufficiency are optimal for anyone involved. Since each of us, she argues, is "inevitably dependent" at some point(s) in our lives, our efforts should be focused not on eliminating dependency but on finding ways to cope with it through public agencies and well-compensated caretaking arrangements. Not everyone will agree with Fineman's ideas, but they are provocative and worth reading. Recommended for all libraries. [For an interview with the author, see "Who Cares for Society's Caretakers?" p. 95.-Ed.]-Ellen D. Gilbert, Princeton, NJ Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781565849761
Publisher:
New Press, The
Publication date:
08/28/2005
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
387
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Martha Albertson Fineman is Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Law at Emory University and Director and Founder of the Feminism and Legal Theory Project.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >