The Home and Capitalism

Why we are forced to believe in the nuclear family

Homes in Arcadia, California

Although it seems organic, even the ways in which our families are set up is designed to maintain adults in the workforce for as long as possible. A household typically consists of two guardians, usually a mother and a father, and multiple children. This set up, in which the income of only two workers is supposed to finance and maintain the lives of four or more people is what drives our economy and maintains capitalism. By separating citizens into small families supported by only two adults, capitalism is able to force employees to work in less than desirable conditions. Workers at the head of nuclear families often can not afford to demand fair treatment because they have families who rely on them to have consistent incomes. By creating a society that is so divided, capitalism forces us into a family plan that requires workers at all times. A recent survey conducted in 2016 by the Bureau of Labor reveals that “Among married-couple families, both the husband and wife were employed in 48.0 percent of families.” This statistic is so high out of necessity; nuclear family guardians do not have the economic freedom to choose if or when they want to work. The nuclear family structure is setup to ensure that there will always be labor for the system. Each nuclear family is a miniature replica of the major capitalist structure that we live in; this is necessary for our capitalist society to run as it currently does. If the structure of the family were to change and become malleable, citizens would have more freedom, especially in regards to their supply of labor.

As explained by Heidi Hartmann in “The Unhappy Marriage of Marxism and Feminism Towards a More Progressive Union”, this capital system is reinforced and reinforces the idea of competitive living, she states, “…capital creates an ideology, which grows up alongside of it, of individualism, competitiveness, domination, and in our time, consumption of a particular kind.” In order to combat this capitalistic system, we must change the ways in which we think of families. An example of this is given in the article, “Two Couples, One Mortgage” in which author Ari Weisbard describes his unconventional living situation. He and his partner decided to buy a house with another couple, in this way dividing finances, housework, and even child raising. By accepting and normalizing families that stray from the norm such as Ari Weisbard’s, society will be able to free itself from the competitive nature that has been forced onto us by capitalism.

By viewing our neighbors as family instead of competition, we will be granted freedom. If we look to others with love, we will not feel the need to “out-luxury” them; instead, we will feel the need to make sure that they are eating as well as we are. The division between citizens that capitalism makes us believe is necessary and normal holds us back and keeps us centimeters above water. In order to combat this, we must look towards and accept different family structures as valid and healthy. It is through this that we will gain back our lives and feel the noose of capitalism loosen around our necks.