But the master …

But the master terms of Liberalism—public vs. private—have remained relatively consistent, as have the master categories—the state, the economy, civil society, and the family. Different forms of Liberalism define the categories somewhat differently and assign publicness and privateness to them in varying ways. But the most public site of collective life under Liberalism is always the state, the « proper » location of publicness, while the most private site is the family. The economy and civil society appear as mixed sites of voluntary, cooperative rational action (as opposed to the coerciveness of the state, and the passion and authority relations of the family), with both public and private functions— though both sites are generally regarded as more private than public. Much of the analytical force of Liberalism then is especially directed toward distinguishing the state from the economy and outlining the proper limits to the state’s power to regulate economic, civic, and family life.

Lisa Duggan, The Twilight of Equality : Neoliberalism, Cultural Politics, and the Attack on Democracy, p. 4-5

 

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