Monday, April 2, 2012

Review 7: Border Sexualities, Border Families in Schools, Chapter 4 (Complete)

Author's Note:

I'm hesitant to announce the news prior to it being official, but I'll say this much: I'm going to grad school! (-: Details forthcoming once I get things locked down.

- Jason


Review 7:
Pallotta-Chiarolli, M. (2010). Border sexualities, border families in schools. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Fourth Chapter: "Messing up the Couples Cabinet": Multisexual and Polyamorous Families in Schools. (complete chapter) Pp. 161-220

Instead of doing a chapter summation, as it's nicely covered in the three subsections, I'm starting to formulate a framework based on the material in this chapter to use as an assessment tool for all three models, pass/border/pollute. Since the goal of this blog is both public information, and to support my policy/legal research, I'm going to focus this post on how to adapt passing/bordering/polluting into policy analysis. I covered passing and polluting's models nicely in their subsections, but let me lay it out here in completeness, and with a specific emphasis on assessing the impact of specific policies/laws on polyfamilies.

Passing: Since passing families try to acclimate to existing labels, it's a matter of how effectively the family can 'cloak' their poly behaviors from the institution who's policy is being assessed. The questions that come up on a passing assessment are 'What labels are most similar to a polyfamily structure, that are still legitimized by the policy/institution?', 'What labels are the least likely to cause the polyfamily to come under scrutiny from the institution?' and 'What services/benefits/etc. do those labels provide/remove/modify/etc that don't match with the family structure?' Asking these questions of a policy would provide insight into not only how might polyfamilies interact with said policy, but also to identify how friendly the policy is to that approach.

Polluting: I'll get to bordering in a moment, as polluting is important to cover first. Since polluting families are 'out', unlike passing families it's not a matter of how well they can fit themselves to the labels, it's a matter of how well the labels can be applied to the polluting family. The questions to ask here are 'On contact with the family, what parts of the polyfamily structure can 'fit' into existing labels and processes, and what can't?', 'From those parts that can and can't fit, what services are and aren't accessible to the family?' and 'what kind of 'wiggle-room' does the policy provide to accommodate for not fitting within the labels?'. These questions can strongly highlight inequity issues between monogamous and non-monogamous families, as it's the policy's ability to handle the family, not the other way around, that's being assessed here. For an activist-approach toward policy (important for my future work), these seem to be vital questions to ask.

Bordering: Like explained previously, bordering is something of a hybrid approach, but also an amalgam of it's own. Since there's a mix-n-match process that goes on here, the questions from passing and polluting both need to be asked, in addition to questions like 'Where in the policy is passing or polluting a more effective strategy?', 'How much leeway does the policy give towards inconsistent representations?' and 'How will a selective and targeted approach impact the services/benefits/etc. that the polyfamily has access to?' The idea is to capture border's amorphousness in interacting with different groups in different ways.

After all these questions are asked, then a few final questions needs to be asked: 'Which of these three approaches yields the most services for the polyfamily?', 'How well do those services address polyfamily needs?' and 'How do those services compare to the services, and service needs, of monogamous families?' This is both an effectiveness question, and a 'social directing' question. The effectiveness is about trying to find out how well non-monogamous families are served by these policies compared to monogamous families. The 'social directing' question is asking how this policy encourages certain kinds of non-monogamous behaviors, by making them more and/or less beneficial for the family.

There's one other key concept that I got from this chapter, and that's the idea of the 'panopticonic' environment, or the idea that there's a constant sense of surveillance, in a very 'big brother' fashion. I'm not going to spend too much time on this, but it struck me rather interestingly, as each of the three approaches addressed it in different ways, passers by hiding, polluters by 'gussying up' for the proverbial press, and borders by being just enough in the light to function, but not so much to gain notice. I really think there's more to dig into here, but my work must go forward. I'd really encourage other academics to look into how notions of being panopticonically observed and how that impacts non-monogamy.

I have 14 pages left to go in this book, so I may have one more posting about it, but I may not. I'm about ready to launch into the writing process, but I need to do one more review prior to that. Expect to see that within the next week or so.

- Jason

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