II -- Family Processes in the United States
Imaginatively, institutionally, legally, the nuclear household is central in American kinship. It is the "Family," a temporary unit starting when a couple has its first child and dies with the full entry of the last child into the world of work. "When will you start your family?", "What will you do now that your family has left you?" are questions that frame an adult life. They are inescapable. They highlight aspects of life in the United States and make them particularly easy to talk about. They also hide or obscure other aspects. The social and cultural construction of the nuclear household make it easy to see it as an object standing against other institutions, and a place where happiness can be pursued. But it makes it difficult to see it as something that has to be reconstructed on a daily basis and in continual relation with other households and institutions. It makes it even harder to see that the effective family, even in the modern industrial United States, even in the middle classes, is much larger than the nuclear household.
In this part of the paper, I want to highlight the hidden aspects of family life. I start with a quote from Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina where one of the heroes, a few weeks after his wedding discovers something that many sociologists and psychologists easily forget: marriage is much more than love. It is also hard work:
Levin had been married three months. He was happy, but not at all in the way he had expected to be. At every step he found his former dreams disappointed, and new, unexpected surprises of happiness. He was happy; but on entering upon family life he saw at every step that it was utterly different from what he had imagined. At every step he experienced what a man would experience who, after admiring the smooth, happy course of a little boat on a lake, should get himself into that little boat. He saw that it was not all sitting still, floating smoothly; that one had to think too, not for an instant to forget where one was floating; and that there was water under one, and that one must row; and that his unaccustomed hands would be sore; and that it was only to look at it that was easy; but that doing it, though very delightful was, was very difficult.
As a bachelor, when he had watched other people's married life, seen the petty cares, the squabbles, the jealousy, he had only smiled contemptuously in his heart. In his future married life there could be, he was convinced, nothing of that sort. [...] And all of a sudden, instead of his life with his wife being made on an individual pattern, it was, on the contrary, entirely made up of the pettiest details, which he had so despised before, but which now, by no will of his own, had gained an extraordinary importance that it was useless to contend against. And Levin saw that the organization of all these details was by no means so easy as he had fancied before. Although Levin believed himself to have the most exact conceptions of domestic life, unconsciously, like all men, he pictured domestic life as the happiest enjoyment of love, with nothing to hinder and no petty cares to distract. He ought, as he conceived the position, to do his work, and to find repose from it in the happiness of love. She ought to be beloved, and nothing more. But, like all men, he forgot that she too would want work. And he was surprised that she, his poetic, exquisite Kitty, could not merely in the first weeks, but even in the first days of their married life, think, remember, and busy herself about table-cloths, and furniture, about mattresses for visitors, about a tray, about the cook, and the dinner, and so on... (Tolstoy 1978: 514-515)
Marriage is daily work that produces ever increasing practical dependencies among both the members of the household, and also all other people who relate to them. This may have been what Parsons was thinking of when he talked about the “instrumental” aspects of marriage--and what his critics meant when they emphasized the real work that women who stay home do perform, not only for their husbands and children, but also for the collectivity. But scholarship on this aspect of marriage has been limited. It is only recently that some are coming to look at life in a nuclear household as work, daily work under often unpredictable conditions (Varenne 1992; Gubrium 1990).
There is even less work on extended ties outside the nuclear household. There are many such ties: First, of course, there are the direct linkages built on ties of socialization (links with parents' and children’s households), alliance (links with in-laws, former in-laws, new households made by ex-spouses), propinquity and friendship (links with neighboring households, those of friends). One must also take into account indirect relations between the households of different groups and classes. These connections are least researched but possibly most powerful in establishing the conditions within which particular households function.
The following exploration of these conditions is organized into four main parts. The first focuses on the forces, both sociological and ideological, which limit the size of households in the United States and builds the unit as the proper "Family." The second reviews literature concerned with the work performed within the small household. The third and fourth explore the linkages, both direct and indirect, between households.
Small Households and the American Nuclear Family
Few statistics are more often quoted than the ones about the continual shrinking of the size of the average household in the United States. It is not always obvious to those who focus on these figures that they do not tell much about the size of families, and even less about their composition. Single persons living alone, say a widow or divorced woman in her late 1950s, constitute households for census purposes. Whether they are also families is another matter. Another matter altogether is the extent and quality of the relationship between this person and her kin (parents, siblings, children), either in the present, or over the course of her life. Historians have pointed out that average household size has always been small in the Anglo-Saxon societies whose heritage continues to dominate in the United States ([REFERENCE]). Still the American landscape is littered with signs pointing at the small unit made up of two adults (maybe now only one) and the children to whom they have given birth: for more than 50 years now (and for probably much longer) the number of children raised in non-familial settings has remained below one percent. Of the children of the past three generations 99 percent have been raised in small households. with relatives, and overwhelmingly (96 percent or 97 percent) with at least one of their biological parents. This figure, of course, hides much well-known variation in the actual organization of the household. More importantly it hides the forces that over-emphasize the relevance of these raw figures, construct a world that ensures the reproduction of these figures even against various forms of resistance, and hide other aspects of familial life.
The most visible forces are representational ones and they are deeply grounded in ideological patterns that are stronger than ever. The image of the family as Nuclear and built out of the love two persons have for each other, and which they translate into their love for their children, is one that is profoundly inscribed in Hallmark cards, sentimental movies, or situation comedies on television. There it reigns, under all kinds of interpretations from the warm ("Family ties," "Home improvement," "Mad about you") to the acid ("All in the family," "Rosanne," "Married ... with children"). This image of the family is not however a simple matter of myth or personal belief. It drives political controversy. In the long run it shapes and is shaped by constitutional policy defining and limiting what the State may, and must, enforce. Representations of the family are never "private" matters, they are always public, collective, ones.
Everywhere one find signs of the power of the Nuclear Family as the cultural model that strengthens the forces that may push industrial societies towards ever smaller household. It rules housing policies and suburbanization. Indirectly it has contributed to the building of super-highways that helped nuclear households move to the suburbs and small, "one-family" homes as "better" places where to raise children. Fifty years later, as inner cities have become ever less welcoming, these suburbs and their highways are now inscribed on the American landscape and have become inevitable as conditions for all in the United States. The housing stock and all regulations about the building of new housing are now so organized to make it very easy for very small numbers of people to reside together, and quite difficult for other arrangements to be made. Many zoning boards specifically forbid the construction of large homes that might house several related households and frown upon the building of “granny flats” that would appear to challenge the “family” character of an area (Perin 1977, 1978). The Nuclear Family is of course further inscribed on the social landscape by the school as it requires that children have a home and parents who can involve themselves in its activities. Even the rewriting of many form letters sent out from schools so that they do not imply that the child is living with his married father and mother still leaves room for at most two responsible adults. Beyond the school reigns a legal system whose rules mandate that only biological or adoptive parents are routinely responsible for their children, have rights regarding them, and also major duties are enforceable by law. Absent fathers can be forced to pay child support, but not grandparents or maternal uncles. Mothers and fathers can fight over children during a divorce but no other kin may be a direct, as of right, party to the negotiations.
The position of the legal system at its broadest, that is, in the matter of constitutional law about marriage is interesting in its rather paradoxical treatment of the Nuclear Family. It has been argued that the Supreme Court, in fact, has been in the process of radically de-institutionalizing it as it transforms it from a special status to a form of contract between two individuals (Regan 1996; Schneider, C. 1996). In a way, the Supreme Court is following a long ideological process as it affirms that marriage is a private matter. But this affirmation of an ideological model is also a construction that makes something as real as super-highways and one-family house: it places boundaries around a social area. Protecting "privacy" requires that it be defined: thus a mother is currently recognized as having radically different rights on a growing human life depending on its status as "fetus" rather than "infant." Roe vs. Wade greatly increased mothers' rights over the unborn. Over the past 20 years this has been accompanied by a decrease in her rights over the born--particularly if she is poor, on welfare, and in need of help by professionals. The disinvolvement of the State, is thus accompanied by a multiplication of the regulations concerning familial arrangements (particularly on matters of child-rearing and residence patterns), and thereby reconstitute a particular form of the family (Bourdieu 1994b).
In all these ways, the Nuclear Family is profoundly inscribed on the land of the United States and makes it American for generations to come. But there is much more that is directly relevant to family life than the Nuclear Family. This is what we explore next.
The Social Construction of Local Familial Patterns
The cultural construction of the Nuclear Family as an island of privacy produces a social space within which much happens that is eventually of relevance far beyond the areas of personality development that may be most obvious. It may seem curious that one of the most common response to a question about what may have happened on a week night at home is "nothing!." In the commonsense world of everyday life family work easily disappears, and it may disappear all the more thoroughly that what is done moves ever further into the realm of general maintenance rather than direct economic production. As the saying goes, "a happy family has no history." And of course women who work at home, taking care of household, children and husband, "do nothing," which must mean that they do not do anything that is specifically reportable. But, of course, not being able to report what one did last night does not at all mean that nothing was done, but rather that there are no easy models to describe this work.
As mentioned before, the most common analyses of the work performed by the home have centered around the question of mental health. As sociologists agreed with Parsons that the family was mostly a "factory for personalities," and psychologists thought of basic personalities as being built through early interactions with mothers and fathers, it is not surprising that schizophrenia and autism should have been the first concern of the Palo Alto group that brought together psychologists, linguists and anthropologists. They were the first systematically to explore the possibility that particular types of communication patterns might be directly implicated in certain schyzophrenias (Bateson 1958, 1960; Jackson, 1968; Watzlawick et al. 1967). Other versions of this idea is at work in the work of Henry (1965), Laing (1964, 1969) and Lidz (1963, 1965). Since then, all forms of mental problems (alcoholism, anorexia, domestic violence, the tendency to suicide, etc.) have been presented as the possible outcomes of particular forms of everyday interactional patterns within the household. The argument is a strong one: the local patterns developed by small groups can produce such stress on one of the participants that this participant may develop symptoms of major psychological trauma. In spite of severe critiques that have pointed at the chemical sources of many mental disturbances, the arguments about the impact of familial patterns has become common sense and probably nowhere so much as in educational circles.
Bateson remains important for a different reason that has only tangentially to do with personality development. He established the usefulness of looking intensely at short segments of interaction to investigate how human beings communicate and, through communicational processes, construct, constitute or reveal with what which is consequential in their everyday life. In brief a woman says in passing to her husband that "workmen are coming up" to do some repairs rather that they are coming "over" she is signaling that both are living in an apartment building rather than in a detached house, thereby revealing something about what they must deal with in their everyday life as they construct their joint history with their resources. After Bateson, two other developing traditions of research deepened his intuitions: one evolving one from sociology (ethnomethodology), and the other from linguistics (discourse analysis). This research drew two set of conclusions most directly significant to our own purposes (Gubrium 1990, 1992; Varenne 1992). First, and most directly related to ethnomethodology, is the recognition of the need to understand interaction as work in process and as constitutive of the world to be inhabited by the participants. In other words, the household is not only, or even mainly, a place where a young child learns how to live; it is a place where all people work at living in a changing environment that continually requires new constructions. Household patterns are not set when the youngest child reaches four, for the oldest child is now, say, nine or ten, moving into new interests, exploring new rights, being given new privileges. Then the household must evolve and develop new patterns. Twenty years later, when the children are establishing their own households, the relationship between them and their parents remains in construction, with new work to be performed, under new circumstances and with new tools.
The second implication of this emphasis on interactional work is implicit in the constructionist implications of ethnomethodological research: interaction is built out of materials built in other interactions with tools provided by others. Above all, interaction builds new materials and tools. Interaction constitutes history. It does so minimally for the direct participants in an ongoing interaction. As an improvised conversation progresses, each statement transforms what has been said until then and requires subtle shifts in what is said later. Interaction also constitute history is much broader ways. Take, for example, the decision of the eldest son of a large Irish family in the mid 1850s to emigrate to the United States. It would certainly have to be understood in terms of the local history of this family, the neighboring families, and the British Empire. It must also be considered in its consequences for the children and grand-children of this man. His act makes a world for them and, most fatefully in the United States, for children and grandchildren of all the human beings that already populated the Americas, including the Africans who would be put in competition with the Irish for scarce jobs.
Such historical concerns are rarely those of most research on family interaction based on ethnomethodological insights. Ethnomethodology remains more interested in demonstrating local activity as persons mutually shape themselves into particular positions within the group than in exploring the tools they use in doing so, or the impact of their moment-to-moment constructions on future constructions both for the local group and for other families. It has also rarely been directly concerned with demonstrating and investigating what can be known as "family patterns" or "familial sub-structures." This kind of work is more typical of research in modern family therapy (Reiss 1981). Yet it should be central to all those who, from Bernstein to Heath, are quite sure that different ethnic groups or communities have developed distinct interactional styles (Erikson and Florio 1982). Most often hypotheses about cultural differences between groups in their family organization are not based on careful investigation of the actual settings where the transmission of "typical" patterns would be made and thus much research is needed. It is interesting for example that, when conducting close comparison of related families, what is striking is, first, the great variability of familial patterns among any group identified through broad descriptive terms (Bryce 1980; Bryce and Leichter 1983; Diulio 1990; Leonard 1986; Varenne and McDermott 1986), and, second, the analytic complexities of explaining an observed pattern through an invocation of one or two gross demographic traits partially descriptive of one or another of the dominant adults ("upper middle-class," "urban," "highly educated," "white").
In summary, it is always the case that, as people work with each other day in and day out, they inevitably construct historical facts that feed on each other and thereby self-regulate into patterns that become all the stronger as the group grows and stays together over time. If the boundaries that the people build around them are strong enough, if few others enter these boundaries, a pattern may arise that will constrain future action in the household itself, and with people in other situations. But these are complex issues about which little is known. What is clear is that the fundamental premise concerning the local activity of families must be preserved even when researchers move on to examine the relationship of families to other families, and the relationship of families to other institutions. In this process, large groups of households can be come to look quite similar. But the similarity must always be presented in terms of the conditions faced by the families and tools available to them: Families may be labelled "middle class" usefully only to the extent that "middle class" is used as a short hand for a variety of conditions rather than as a descriptive for a way of being.
The Family Beyond Individual Households
Lévi-Strauss (1956) once summarized the first generation of work in the anthropology of the family by insisting that “families are not the building blocks of society, they are temporary resting places” since people continually move across families through marriage, and in and out of families through birth and death. Any local family pattern is necessarily transitory (though special conditions may maintain it for several generations). To understand what is most powerful over local practice in families, one must examine the mechanisms that link families to each other. Lévi-Strauss emphasized the paradigmatic mechanisms of the incest taboo requiring children to look outside immediate kin to find partners and developing solidarity between intermarrying kin groups. In the United States, the societal implication of the incest taboo may not be quite as powerful as elsewhere but it remains quite clear that parents are closely involved in the marriages of their children and often work, directly or not, at ensuring that they will marry “close to home.” This can be done indirectly, without recourse to positive pressures: through housing, schooling, college, and other kinds of efforts to help children fit in certain milieus, families can, to a certain extent, control who their children will find easier to marry.
In the United States, the relationship of household to household, and families to families is thus a more complex issue than the direct control of marriage and the building of alliances between in-laws perhaps because there is finally very little advantage in doing so. Conversely, there are no formal mechanisms forbidding such alliances and they may be more common than one might imagine. What is certain is that marriage does open links between two kin groups where none may have existed before. What is made with these links is another matter. Similarly, it may not be the case that all parents and their children maintain vertical links across separate households, but many, most perhaps, do--and for very practical reasons that may be getting stronger. Of course, there are no formal mechanisms in American culture enforcing the need for such joint action. The contrary may be true. Leichter and Mitchell (1967) documented, for example, how therapists and social workers attempt to enforce an understanding of personal identity based on independence from kin. In a process that reaffirm the great myths about the Nuclear Family as a haven, they may also disrupt the satisfaction of other practical needs and make the everyday life of their clients more difficult. Leichter and Mitchell showed that the professionals were caught in the very same dilemma in which they placed their client: their kin networks were just as extensive as that of their clients, and they relied on them extensively, but they also systematically devalued them. In the long run, most people do not quite heed calls to "independence," and for good reasons. Instrumental help in the form of baby sitting on week-ends or vacations, or in the establishment of college funds for grand-children, etc., may be too useful to give up, whatever further strings the acceptance of this help may establish between the involved households. Bumpass (1990) notes that one quarter of people who purchased homes in the 1980s reported receiving help from relatives. To this figure we should probably add all who talked extensively with relatives who could not help financially, or who gave other kinds of help (loan guarantees and such). Conversely, it is becoming clearer that the vulgarization of divorce makes it very rational for each partner in a couple to maintain ties with parents and collaterals (uncles, aunts, and cousins) who might help in the case of a breakup. The same conditions can lead to the transformation of ties of propinquity or friendship into quasi-kin relationships. This has been abundantly described in the literature on the African-American family in poverty (Stack 1975; Holloman and Lewis 1978; Shimkin, Louie and Frate 1978). It is also written in all stories about the pioneer years of America: the strength of family and communal ties are all the strongest when the social situation is most threatening. The loss or downsizing of jobs can have the same effect as divorce, as does illness and old age.
Inter-household ties that mostly follow links of consanguinity are generally considered signs of the “extension” of the family. Sociologists assert that they are "weakening" on the basis of the decreasing rates of various kinds of instrumental help between the generations. But the historical data be read very differently (Hareven 1991). First, talking about "extension" clearly reveals the bias towards thinking of the family as only parents and young children in distinct households. Second, talking about a "weakening" adds an interpretative step that the data may not warrant. Much sociology and history of the family has operated on the more or less explicit assumption that the evolution of industrial societies necessarily meant the radical loss of relevance of any form of extended kin. But there is no conclusive evidence that the weakening of some ties is more than a secondary effect. One might interpret the whole picture as suggesting that the ties are still usable, even when they are not actually used.
There are two issues here. One concerns the choice of the facts to reports, and the second concerns the interpretations to be given to these facts. The size of contemporary households is quite small [DATA] and it is exceptional for any member of the grand-parental generation to reside with their children and grand-children. Clearly, as soon as economic conditions permit, middle-class young adults establish separate households away from their parents. It is even less likely that strangers (roomers) or domestics will co-reside in the household. If people rent parts of their homes, it will probably be in units that are architecturally independent. Domestic help is generally expected to reside in their own households. But these statistics cannot give us any idea about the nature of the relationships between these households. More importantly perhaps they cannot capture all the ways through which a particular family's organization impacts the life of its members, and even more significantly, the impact of people at its periphery.
So, what is to be included as "data" when studying familial processes? And, what are the interpretive steps that generations of sociologists have taken. There is no space here to answer these questions by exhaustive lists? An example of the kind of argumentation proposed here should suffice. Take the decline in the rate of grandmothers baby-sitting their daughter's children. There can be many reasons for this decline; maybe one of the moved too far away, maybe the grandmother is herself employed in the market place. Such reasons may appear personal and idiosyncratic, but they point at major features of American society that permit, or require, geographical mobility or the employment of women. Increase the cost of travel or relocation or decrease the number of jobs, among many other things, and the conditions of everyday life for all involved change. In France for example, during the 1970s and 1980s, increased prosperity among the elderly led to a steady increase in their maintaining a separate residence from their children, while, at the very same time, a steady decrease in the job opportunities of young adults led to a steady increase in the number of children maintaining residence with their parents (Attias-Donfut 1995). In other words, a decline in an absolute rate, like the one of coresidence or intergenerational help, cannot be interpreted directly unless it is placed in a broader context that takes into account other kinds of evidence.
Choosing pre-schools, moving to a suburb with more prestigious schools, distributing inheritance early in the form of paying college tuition, etc., are acts that affirm the continued impact of kin ties on social life. They also serve to establish the continuity of kin lines--even in the context of an ideological system that does not acknowledge their relevance. The ways in which all this makes sense in an advanced industrial society have been well-documented for people in poverty. We now also have the beginning of a literature on the very rich who, through the establishment of trust funds for their grand-children can cement dynasties for a few generations at least (Marcus and ??? 1992; Mension-Rigaud 1994). Not many middle class parents may have the financial means to do this. But there is every evidence that all people use whatever they have to help their children achieve at least what they have achieved, and hopefully move higher. Middle class parents have in fact always been relatively successful in doing this and there is no evidence that it is changing.
Given all this, systematic investigations is needed into the many situations that encourage the activation of familial ties spanning households (for example, a divorce which returns one or both partners to their household of origin, or the death of a spouse which may lead an aging woman to move in with her very elderly mother). Second, more complex research on the possibly unwitting activation of familial ties up the patri- or matri-lines that might explain the historical processes that contribute to the career of individuals is warranted. For example, American politics suggests how effective dynastic membership can be. The American prototype of the man who makes himself out of the most modest of beginnings may be incarnated by presidents like Truman, Carter, Reagan or Clinton. But the Roosevelts, Kennedys, or Bushes. tell a different story about the privileges of birth. Similar dynasties can be found in among the Black elites, and there is every evidence that they will also be found among the more modest middle classes even if they are somewhat more hidden.
The point is not to mistake ideological construction in law and imagination for practical construction in every day life. Anything that is not specifically forbidden by the State remains thinkable and, to certain extent, doable--even if dominant values frown upon this or that tactic. Anything that is advantageous--as the buildup of extended ties certainly is--will continue to be attempted--even in the face of specific opposition. In conclusion, nuclear households should never be analyzed through the image of insularity that they may give. Households are produced by other households, and families (sets of intimately linked households) by other families.
Interrelationships Among Families
The last statement is intended to do much more than move attention from the "nuclear" to the "extended" family. It is also intended to point at the relationships between apparently unrelated families whose fates can be shown to be linked. When parents move to a suburb with more prestigious schools, they constrain the careers not only of their children and grandchildren. They also constrain the careers of the children and grandchildren of other parents, in the social distance, who could not make the same move. Families, in the United States as everywhere else, are in continual competition for resources both for themselves in the present, and for their children in the future. In a context where being the first, or at the top, is both extremely useful and very difficult to achieve, the efforts of one family to preserve what it has achieved, or of another to struggle for what it never had before, will necessarily have impacts far beyond its immediate circle. The households of Scarsdale or Grosse Pointe are in an indirect but very real relationship with those of Harlem or inner-city Detroit. What both can accomplish is fostered and constrained by what the other is doing. One striking analysis of this process on a specific issue can be found in Drummond's work (1978) on nannies and mammies in England and the Americas. Earlier, Boon argued (1974) that the historical existence of nannies in upper-class nineteenth century British society should be taken seriously by anthropologists as evidence that motherhood, like fatherhood and every other kin tie, was susceptible to cultural transformation and substitution. Drummond took this one step forward by emphasizing that such cultural constructions have direct practical consequences on the everyday life of all involved, and this is a large group indeed. Nannies are real women whose very role as helper to another woman's child rearing requires a particular adjustment in their own child-rearing patterns. He talked about "nanny-takers" and "nanny-givers" to symbolize how the two groups are in fact intimately linked. The groups can easily be distinguished by class, race, language or national origin but the "difference" does not break the organic dependence of one on the other. Drummond points out that it may not be too surprising that the classes whence nannies came in England were characterized by high levels of child abandonment, or that, in the United States, mammies were slaves. Professional women in Manhattan or Los Angeles, and baby sitters from the Caribbean or Mexico, are now in a similar situation, and this may expand as more and more parents require that other women, and perhaps some men, take care of their young children. Any child from Harlem who gives up on schooling helps a child from Englewood-Cliffs, and any Korean green grocer who pushes his child to do extra homework and gains him a place at Stanford places pressure on both sets of parents. In the long run, the violent political disputes about such matters as affirmative action or immigration should not be approached either as an abstract fight between classes or groups, or even less as fights between individuals in need of enlightenment, but rather as practical struggles between families indirectly linked by their position within the same polity.
Much of the work on political conflicts is framed as a matter of the macro-sociology of industrial and pluralistic societies as massive transformations play themselves out in a realm of trans-human forces. It should be reinterpreted in familial terms. Only then will it be possible to understand the exact mechanisms through which social differences arise and are maintained in advanced industrial societies. It is fundamental to every tradition in the human sciences that no person can achieve its potential humanity except through continued interaction with other human beings. It must also be accepted that no human being will achieve full humanity as an actor with properties in a broad social field except through the mediation of local groups, pre-eminently “the Family”--in the broadest acceptations of the term. A person is never in direct contact with the whole of society. Other human beings, parents, children, etc., are always in the way, possibly helping, possibly hindering, but always present. This is true of nuclear units as well. A young couple in the first bloom of love may think of itself as "alone in the world." But this is never so. Other households, other families, are always in the way, possibly helping and often hindering. In Dickens’ gentle caricature of the then recent phrase “my home is my castle,” the castle is a medieval construction surrounded by moats and ramparts. This might symbolize a wish for isolation, but also a recognition of the threat that other families always constitute. American suburban architecture with its open lawns and ceremonials of hospitality and communal openness may present a more optimistic interpretation of the inescapable relationships with other families. In all cases however, we are back to Donne’s understanding of humanity: no man (household, family) is an island. Understanding this theoretically as well as morally or politically is essential, particularly for professional educators.