"In this paradigm-shifting and controversial book, legal theorist and author Martha Fineman documents how American policymakers' overemphasis on the values of self-sufficiency and autonomy has negatively affected government policy relating to the care of the young, the elderly, and the infirm." "Those charged with administering U.S. social policy have long considered the marital family household as appropriately both separate and self-sufficient, at the cost the well-being of many families and their members, particularly children. Vigorously taking issue with his approach, Fineman insists that because each of us is "inevitably dependent" at various stages in our lives, it makes much more sense for us to recognize from the outset that society has a vital role in providing assistance. Indeed, any individual carer's necessary reliance on outside resources makes this essential. Presenting her argument with conviction and eloquence, Fineman calls for the acceptance of collective and public responsibility for dependency, as well as a restructuring of the workplace consistent with a new understanding of the boundaries between private and public spheres. The Autonomy Myth demands a more responsive and active state to ensure that the burdens associated with dependency are more equitably distributed."--Jacket
Includes bibliographical references and index
Foundational myths: autonomy, dependency, and social debt -- Exploring foundational myths -- Dependency and social debt: cracking the foundational myths -- Institutionalizing autonomy -- The family in the rhetoric of civil society -- Why marriage? -- The future of marriage -- Feminist critiques of the family -- Feminism and the family: implementing equality, achieving autonomy -- Mothering in a gender-neutral world -- The autonomous individual and the autonomous family within the social contract -- The tentative workplace -- The tenable state -- What place for family privacy?