Tag Archives: We’re a family metaphor

What’s a Family? Not This.

blood family

I believe this is true, but it’s not what I want to rant about today.

There are several types of families, depending on whom you ask. There are blood family, extended family, chosen family, and the family-that-dare-not-speak-its-name (at least in some circles). You can have quite a jolly time debating which exist and which are better than the others. I say family is as family does and leave it at that.

The one kind of family that I believe does not exist is the corporate family. It is a big, fat, self-serving, pants-on-fire lie. But it’s still very popular and swallowed whole by many.

It’s when a company or business tries to convince employees that it is really like a family.

They do this to create warm, fuzzy feelings and make the workers think that management has their back. While that may be true of some (mostly smaller) businesses, the majority of businesses simply want to make money for the minority; that is, for the owners, upper management, and shareholders.

Is that the way families work? Mom and Dad cutting the kids’ allowances and assigning more chores so that the parents can get a bonus or a vacation?

I didn’t think so.

And speaking of family types, the business-as-family model is almost invariably paternal and authoritarian. Papa knows best and issues the orders. Everyone else carries them out. Do real families like that exist? Of course. But it’s hardly a model that promotes self-esteem in anyone but the father. Imagine whst it does to minimum-wage workers.

We all know by now that, legally, officially, corporations are people, so it almost makes sense to say that a business can be a family. But think about it. Do you really want Father Wal-Mart or, God help us, Mother Koch, or even Cousin Trojan?

I have a very good family, thank you, made up of relatives, friends, loved ones, animals, and people who care for me and each other, with reciprocal having of each other’s back.

I don’t need another one.

Especially not a corporation that pretends to be a family.