The Hidden Economics of Kinkeeping Work

“A few weeks ago I wrote about kinkeepers, which is a term researchers use to describe the people who work to keep their families together. They’re the people who plan events, preserve and share lore, maintain family history, smooth over relationships and generally make sure that a collection of individuals continues to think of themselves as a group.

I had some great feedback on that post — thank you to the people who responded — and a few comments mentioned the idea that there seems to be an economic or financial component to kinkeeping. I think that’s absolutely right, and I wanted to tease the idea out; if it’s important for a family to have a kinkeeper, then it’s also important to cultivate the financial circumstances that allow a kinkeeper to flourish in the first place.

A lot of the research I’ve come across has focused on framing kinkeeping as labor. The idea is that it’s actually a lot of work to keep a family together, even if we aren’t accustomed to thinking of kinkeeping efforts as a ‘job.’”


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