Kinship as a Political Act
This dissertation aims, first, to retrieve a thicker notion of kinship; second, to explore whether such a notion might counter the political exclusion of the most vulnerable; and third, to propose that kinship has potential to promote the social integration of the most vulnerable. Over the past few decades, the term kinship has often been understood in a very reductionist sense, only referring to genetic connections or family ties, and a particular type of kinship, i.e., spiritual kinship, has lost its social implications. Such a narrow understanding of kinship contributes to marginalizing and excluding frail elderly women and men from the social fabric. In particular, the frail elderly are subjected to two kinds of exclusion: personal (individual) and institutionalized (systematic). While the vices that lead to personal exclusion include anthropodenial and an aversion to human limitations, the vices responsible for the institutionalized exclusion of the frail elderly include greed and individualism, both fostered by neo-liberalism. To promote the inclusion of the frail elderly, I propose, first, the practice of solidaristic kinship as a response to personal exclusion, because this practice re-educates the emotions through habits. Second, to address institutionalized exclusion, I recommend structures of kinship, such as solidarity and fraternity, because they promote kinship within society. Finally, practices of solidaristic kinship and structures of kinship together characterize communities of solidaristic kinship with frail elderly persons. By engaging in such communities, moral agents cultivate the civic virtues needed to contribute to shaping a society that promotes the political inclusion of its vulnerable members.