Care as a Frame for Understanding the Mutual Constitution of State and Kinship

Jennifer Rasell - Care of the State


In this introduction I present the conceptual frame for my book [Care of the State: Relationships, Kinship and the State in Children’s Homes in Late Socialist Hungary]. The starting premise of the book is that state care offers an entry point to explore the mutual construction of state and kinship. I first draw on recent theorisation of care and kinship to argue that care outside the ‘private’ sphere of family is often underestimated and that we need to be attentive to the relations of children in care that were devalued by state practices because they were not kin. I next discuss the relational approach to the state that characterises my research. I pursue this approach in order to emphasise the different relational modes in which officials interacted with children in care and the significance of concrete relations in the reproduction of the state-family boundary. The third part of this chapter focuses on understanding state care and the context of late socialist Hungary. This is followed by a discussion of my mixed-method qualitative research strategy.