Razing the Citizen: Economic Inequality, Gender and Marriage Tax Reform
Chapter 12 in GENDER EQUALITY: DIMENSIONS OF WOMEN’S EQUAL CITIZENSHIP, Linda McClain & Joanna Grossman, eds., Cambridge University Press, 2009
21 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2008 Last revised: 21 Nov 2010
Date Written: 2009
This chapter links the failure of U.S. social citizenship ideals to a broader weakness in U.S. ideas citizenship. To better advance policies of economic equality, U.S. law and politics needs a stronger vision not just of economic equality, but of gender equality and of democracy in general. Feminist scholars have analyzed how ideas about gender help shape the common assumption that the costs of raising and sustaining capable, productive citizens are largely private family responsibilities. But ideas about gender also help to undermine egalitarian economic policy by subtly shaping a vision where civic virtue ironically includes the project of razing citizens: turning democratic citizens into pre-modern subordinates dependent on private power. I use the example of recent tax policy reforms focused on reducing the so-called marriage penalty to show how problematic ideas of gender, anti-citizenship, and economic inequality have become entangled and how these must be reconsidered together to promote a meaningful vision of equal citizenship.
Keywords: marriage, tax policy, marriage tax, social citizenship, economic inequality, equality, feminist theory, gender, democracy, liberalism, communitarianism, law and economics
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation