An ethnography of the development and travel of the New Zealand model of neoliberal welfare reform, this study explores the social life of policy, which is one of process, motion, and change. Different actors, including not only policy elites but also providers and recipients, engage with it in light of their own resources and knowledge. Drawing on two analytic frameworks of the contemporary anthropology of policy-translation and assemblage-Kingfisher situates policy as an artifact and architect of cultural meaning, as well as a site of power struggles. All points of engagement with policy are approached as sites of policy production that serve to transform it as well as reproduce it. As such, A Policy Travelogue provides an antidote to theorizations of policy as a-cultural, rational, and straightforwardly technical. Catherine Kingfisher is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Lethbridge. She is editor of Western Welfare in Decline: Globalization and Women's Poverty (2002) and author of Women in the American Welfare Trap (1996). Her research focuses on policy, governance, personhood, gender, and, most recently, happiness and well-being.
As our world becomes increasingly interconnected through economic integration, technology, communication, and political transformation, the sphere of the family is a fundamental arena where globalizing processes become realized. For most individuals, family in whatever configuration, still remains the primary arrangement that meets certain social, emotional, and economic needs. It is within families that decisions about work, care, movement, and identity are negotiated, contested, and resolved. Globalization has profound implications for how families assess the choices and challenges that accompany this process. Families are integrated into the global economy through formal and informal work, through production and consumption, and through their relationship with nation-states. Moreover, ever growing communication and information technologies allow families and individuals to have access to others in an unprecedented manner. These relationships are accompanied by new conceptualizations of appropriate lifestyles, identities, and ideologies even among those who may never be able to access them.
Despite a general acknowledgement of the complexities and social significance inherent in globalization, most analyses remain top-down, focused on the global economy, corporate strategies, and political streams. This limited perspective on globalization has had profound implications for understanding social life. The impact of globalization on gender ideologies, work-family relationships, conceptualizations of children, youth, and the elderly have been virtually absent in mainstream approaches, creating false impressions that dichotomize globalization as a separate process from the social order. Moreover, most approaches to globalization and social phenomena emphasize the Western experience. These inaccurate assumptions have profound implications for families, and for the globalization process itself. In order to create and implement programs and policies that can harness globalization for the good of mankind, and that could reverse some of the deleterious effects that have affected the world's most vulnerable populations, we need to make the interplay between globalization and families a primary focus.
I was once at a hunting dinner, given by a worthy fox-hunting old Baronet, who kept Bachelor's Hall in jovial style, in an ancient rook-haunted family mansion, in one of the middle counties. He had been a devoted admirer of the fair sex in his young days; but having travelled much, studied the sex in various countries with distinguished success, and returned home profoundly instructed, as he supposed, in the ways of woman, and a perfect master of the art of pleasing, he had the mortification of being jilted by a little boarding school girl, who was scarcely versed in the accidence of love.
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