Against the Romance of Community

Against the Romance of Community

Against the Romance of Community

Against the Romance of Community


In Against the Romance of Community, Miranda Joseph presents an unexpected and valuable critique of community that points out its complicity with capitalism.


To give some assistance in wearing away certain self-evidences and
commonplaces…; to bring it about, together with many others,
that certain phrases can no longer be spoken so lightly, certain acts
no longer, or at least no longer so unhesitatingly, performed.

—Michel Foucault, “Questions of Method”

The self-evidence, the commonplace, that I hope to assist in wearing away here is community. I hope that this book will give pause, will insert a hesitation into the next sentence you utter that seems inevitably to require community. I hope that hesitation will open a space for creative thinking about the constitution of collective action, where the term community would operate so effectively to shut down such thought. Community is almost always invoked as an unequivocal good, an indicator of a high quality of life, a life of human understanding, caring, selflessness, belonging. One does one’s volunteer work in and for “the community.” Communities are frequently said to emerge in times of crisis or tragedy, when people imagine themselves bound together by a common grief or joined through some extraordinary effort. Among leftists and feminists, community has connoted cherished ideals of cooperation, equality, and communion.

Because it carries such positive connotations, community is deployed by any and everyone pressing any sort of cause. Identity- based social movements invoke community to mobilize constituents and validate their cause to a broader public. Both Clintonian communitarianism and . . .

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