Intimate states: Techniques and entanglements of governing through community in Europe
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SourceCurrent Anthropology, 62, 6, (2021), pp. 741-770
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ RSCR CAOS
SubjectAnthropology and Development Studies
Across Europe, new welfare programs exemplify attempts to govern through community. This article asks how such governing through community is done in practice. Drawing on comparative insights from fieldwork with parenting support professionals and volunteers in Amsterdam, Milan, and Paris, we document not only how governing through community is actually done but also what new forms of entanglements and unruly effects such governing creates. We argue that intimate welfare landscapes organized at the scale of the neighborhood (1) entangle welfare actors in neighborhood-focused networked relationships; (2) tend to bridge, obfuscate, and dissolve boundaries between state agent and citizen and between state and society; and (3) rely heavily on affective labor and personalized relationships. We show that the reorganization of governance through neighborhood-based networks produces an unwieldy quagmire of networks and partnerships. Moreover, rather than creating self-caring communities, new welfare programs primarily draw increasing numbers into governmental roles. Finally, instead of being released from its welfare and social responsibilities, locally embedded professionals turn out to be particularly effective at bringing the welfare state back in.
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