Family Ties in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix—Part 2

This is the second in a series on the theme of family in OotP. Part 1 gives an introduction to this series and explores the global backdrop of the magical world’s racial/family divisions and interrelationship.

A Note on Beings

As we don’t encounter veelas in OotP and learn very little about them, I don’t include them but will reference them under the Weasleys. I also didn’t include werewolves, being/beast hybrids, “shunted between the Being and Beast divisions for many years,” according to Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them (xiii). As they are a danger to others (as well as themselves), they lack family structure and don’t usually breed (which is why Remus Lupin fears for his unborn child). Although they share anger against wizard oppression, they seem to be loners who unite under Fenrir Greyback under Voldemort only to achieve power over wizards through infecting others, especially children.

What Is Family?

I have a magnet on my refrigerator that says “Friends are family you choose for yourself.” For the purposes of this essay series, the terms “family” and “community” may be interchangeable in both the exact sense—those related by blood or adoption (such as Harry, Hermione, and Remus being absorbed into the Weasley family)—and the broader sense—those who regard each other as if they were biological family, through love and shared values. A family community may also be a workplace, school environment or ideal-driven brotherhood.

Of course, not every family or community operates smoothly, or treats its members well.

Family in Institutions and Groups

After having examined the global magical world and the racial families/tribes within it, let’s narrow down the focus within Britain’s magical community. We’ll look at personal families in Part 3 (and at the rate this is going, Part 4). All page references are from the Scholastic editions.

The Ministry

The Ministry is a dysfunctional government entity, a bureaucracy that is an uneasy microcosm of competing wizard values, ideologies, and methodologies, who yet work together to keep the wizarding world functioning. We spend the most time with these people representing these competing values:

Cornelius Fudge, Prime Minister. A weak politician who values his position over his responsibilities, makes dangerous compromises, and is easily bought. To him the ends justify the means. Therefore he denies Voldemort’s return, and discredits and persecutes Dumbledore and Harry.

Dolores Umbridge, Fudge’s Senior Undersecretary, High Inquisitor of Hogwarts. An ambitious, spiteful, tyrannical abuser who in her thirst for power and control undercuts her own boss (hiring dementors to attack Harry) and makes Hogwarts a living hell for students and staff. Umbridge manipulates the law, hates non-wizard magical beings and is an accomplice of Death Eaters.

Lucius Malfoy, Influence Peddler. “Malfoy’s been giving generously to all sorts of things for years…. Gets him in with the right people … then he can ask for favors … delay laws he doesn’t want passed … Oh, he’s very well connected, Lucius Malfoy….” (Arthur Weasley, 155)

Arthur Weasley, Misuse of Muggle Artefacts Head of Office. A pureblood who believes in equality for all wizards no matter their blood status. Scorned by those like Malfoy, he has a small, inconvenient office and is neither well-respected nor well-paid, but is satisfied with the good he accomplishes.

Bartemius Crouch, Sr., Head of the Department of International Magical Cooperation, former Head of Magical Law Enforcement. A rules stickler so rigid that no one noticed he was Imperiused during GoF. Exacting harsh measures, he authorized Unforgivable Curses, and sent people to Azkaban without trial. “I would say he became as ruthless and cruel as many on the Dark Side” (GoF 527)

Percy Weasley, Administrative Assistant. A proud perfectionist, obsequious and ambitious, he cherishes the letter of the law over people, even his own family. He is so focused that he didn’t realize his first boss was Imperiused. In OotP he is assistant to Minister Cornelius Fudge and supports Umbridge. At the Battle of Hogwarts he reunites with his family, and agrees with Fred’s assessment that he has been “A Ministry-loving, family-disowning, power-hungry moron.” (DH 606)

Rufus Scrimgeour, Auror, Prime Minister. An orchestrator who replaces Fudge, keeps Dolores Umbridge on staff, and enacts ineffectual measures and arrests and incarcerates innocent people to improve the Ministry’s image.

Kingsley Shacklebolt, Senior Auror, covert Order operative. A brave and judicious man, who successfully diverts the search for Sirius Black, and inspires confidence in all, including Vernon Dursley and the Muggle Prime Minister.

The Order of the Phoenix

The Order, composed of mostly biologically unrelated wizards, is a family united by a cause—defeating Voldemort and his blood purity agenda. In OotP Order members share the Black house as headquarters at Sirius’ invitation, even lodging there as necessary. In August and at Christmas we see them cleaning house, celebrating the holidays, showing affection, and having squabbles like any family. The family aspect of the Order is captured in the photograph that Moody shows Harry of the early days, naming past and current members, and pointing out the dead, including Harry’s parents and Gideon and Fabian Prewitt. (We later learn that Gideon and Fabian were Molly’s older brothers; Molly and Arthur give Harry Fabian’s watch for his seventeenth birthday, further showing their love for Harry as a son, and in the Epilogue he still wears it.) The photo also includes the tortured-into-insanity Longbottoms.

As the book opens we’re surprised, along with Harry, that his cat-loving babysitting neighbor, Arabella Figg, is a member of the Order family, and that she’s watched over Harry for fourteen years. She reveals herself during the dementor attack in Little Whinging (19-24) and testifies for Harry at his Wizengamot trial (143). Contrast Arabella with Order member Mundungus Fletcher, who abandons his protective post to pursue shady business deals (23).

Apart from problems with Mundungus’ operations, conflicts arising in the Order are personal, mostly the one between Sirius and Severus, arising from schoolboy cruelty and inability to forgive. This causes much grief and is a factor in Sirius’ death.

Blood Purists and Death Eaters

Blood purists don’t really operate as a family, per se, but they have a strong bond of unity in their desire for racial purity. Scamander writes regarding classification of being and beast: “We are all familiar with the extremists who campaign for the classification of Muggles as “beasts” FB&WTFT xiii). We see this view reflected in the Ministry’s Magic is Might statue. The carved Muggles are naked, “all with stupid, ugly faces, twisted and pressed together to support the weight of the handsomely robed wizards “(DH 242).

The obsession with blood purity exemplified by the Blacks (“Tojours Pur”) and the Malfoys has been a uniting factor amongst many purebloods since the days of Salazar Slytherin. Albus Dumbledore and Gellart Grindelwald would have quickly found an army of willing purebloods to subdue Muggles “for the greater good.”

In contemporary times this blood prejudice produced the Death Eaters. Sirius Black tells Harry that his own parents weren’t Death Eaters, but “they thought Voldemort had the right idea, they were all for the purification of the Wizarding race, getting rid of Muggle-borns and having purebloods in charge. They weren’t alone either, there were quite a few people, before Voldemort showed his true colors, who thought he had the right idea about things….” (112).

Death Eaters, sycophantic servants to their master, are a brotherhood like the Klan or Mafia. They wear hoods and masks, have a brotherhood tattoo (the Dark Mark) that summon them to their master, and a behavioral code with severe punishments for minor failures.  They use forbidden curses. Voldemort, with no love or respect for them, plays them against one another, with more than one believing that only they are his “most trusted.” These henchmen are also a good ol’ boys club with only one female Death Eater amongst them, Bellatrix Lestrange. Bella is always desperate to prove herself as not only equal to the men but better.

Being a Death Eater appears to have generational intent. Those who joined up during Voldemort’s first war would likely see their sons join “the family firm” (as does Draco Malfoy) before Voldemort’s defeat.

The Hogwarts Family

Hogwarts is the educational training ground for the majority of British wizards, and students are together for seven years, apart from family and society. Hogwarts is the heart of the wizarding world, fostering strong school ties lasting a lifetime.

This Hogwarts family includes four sub-families:

STAFF:  We don’t learn of staff relationships outside the school, but the staff does act as family to each other. We see this in Hagrid’s affections for his fellow teachers and defense of Severus Snape, Minerva McGonagall’s kindness to Sybil Trelawny (595), and the staff’s alliance against Umbridge, the only teacher they universally despise.

HOGWARTS PORTRAITS:  These include the castle portraits and the portraits of former headmasters in the headmaster’s office. Portrait subjects visit and find refuge in each other’s paintings, visit paintings of themselves elsewhere for helpful information, support the school, and interact with staff and students. The Pink Lady allows (or doesn’t allow) Gryffindors into their common room. Sir Cadogan, galloping through the paintings, cheers Harry on during the Battle of Hogwarts (DH 621). The headmaster portraits advise the current headmaster, and joyously weeping, give Harry a standing ovation after the battle.

HOUSE GHOSTS:  According to Nearly Headless Nick, only wizards can come back as ghosts and every wizard has the choice (and that choice is final) of remaining as a ghost “neither here nor there,” leaving “an imprint of themselves upon the earth, to walk palely where their living selves once trod. But very few wizards choose that path.” Instead, most go on. Nick confesses to Harry that he knows “nothing of the secrets of death…for I chose my feeble imitation of life instead” (860-861). Ghosts seem to remain at places where they have connection; ghost Professor Binns continues teaching his History of Magic class uninterrupted by the Great Divide.

Ghosts still have their human personalities and frailties. Moaning Myrtle nurses her grudges and interest in unclothed prefects. Nick tells Harry after the year’s welcome feast that “I have never been guilty of cowardice in my life,” (209), yet later tells him that he remained behind as a ghost because “I was afraid of death” (861)

Despite some competitiveness and rivalries, ghosts “maintain links of friendship” (209), and Nick refers to “the spirit community” (HBP 165), which may include the larger ghost community, such as those who participate in the Headless Hunt and come to his deathday party (CoS 124; 129). The Hogwarts ghosts are loyal to the school and celebrate Voldemort’s defeat with the victors. One of them, Rowena Ravenclaw, gives Harry key information about the diadem.

PEEVES: Apparently without human origin, Peeves is not a ghost, but a mischief-making poltergeist, a spirit solid enough to move objects, throw things, fly, and cause destruction. Despite his annoying hostilities, he creates havoc against Umbridge (678), fights on the school’s side during the battle, and sings a victory song (DH 746).

HOGWARTS ELVES: These are happy and contented elves, treated well (GoF 376-382). They bravely fight with kitchen implements during the battle, led by Kreacher.

Hogwarts Students

Hogwarts students are a family within the wizarding world itself, and throughout their formative school years have opportunity to build friendships with those of differing ideologies; most, sadly, leave school with their prejudices intact. The frictions handed down by the four Hogwarts founders thrive and perpetuate in the Sorting of students into four competitive Houses according to character and personality. The Sorting Hat warns that these divisions are dangerous and that unity must prevail to save their way of life, “or we’ll crumble from within” (206-207). Dumbledore also makes pleas for unity. He tells Snape in the Prince’s Tale that “I sometimes think we sort too soon,” instead of giving children a chance to prove themselves (DH 680).

Each House has its own quarters, restricted to students in that House, in different areas of the castle, and students in each class share the same dormitory room during their seven years there. “While you are here,” says Professor McGonagall, “your house will be something like your family within Hogwarts” (SS 114).

Quidditch Teams

In a subset, we have the House Quidditch teams, which bond House and team members, but further House frictions; even the staff members, former Hogwarts students themselves, encourage this subtly or overtly. It would be more unifying to have teams comprised of students from all four Houses, to build understanding, tolerance, and friendship.

The DA

Hogwarts students from three houses form the revolutionary Dumbledore’s Army and work together as a family to learn defense against the Dark Arts. A secret club, the DA members sign an oath of secrecy, meet in a secret room for secret training, and have secret coins to inform them of meetings. They work together to learn defensive spells, and cheer each other on. This is the kind of unity the Sorting Hat would approve. When one member betrays them, it devastates them all.

The bonding goes further for some, including Neville, Luna, and Ginny, who keep their coins on them at all times, hoping for more of the connection that meant so much to them, and that faith and those coins help save Hogwarts during the Death Eater school invasion at the end of the next year and the persecution during Voldemort’s reign. The DA carries on during the Trio’s absence in DH, welcomes Harry back to Hogwarts as leader, and fights in the battle.

For Good or Ill

Family bonds extend beyond bloodlines and race. They are found in institutions, workplaces, teams, brotherhoods, clubs, social groups, organizations, and in Harry Potter, among the dead. These ties can be healthy or twisted, but they matter. None of us goes through life without such bonds.

I’m sure you all have so much to add, so fire away!

About Deborah Chan/Arabella

Deborah Chan, previously “Arabella Figg” I read the first three Harry Potter books in 1999 to see what the fuss was about and was hooked. After participating at for several years, and then here at the pub, I joined the Blogengamot in 2009. I enjoy discussing and writing about the books I love, and particularly enjoy looking into characters' psychological and emotional motivations. My husband Rick and I live in Spokane, WA, where I’m a columnist for our newspaper, The Spokesman-Review. Our cat Casey Rose is my gravatar. Butterbeers all around!

17 thoughts on “Family Ties in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix—Part 2

  1. Sorry, Arabella! I’ve been behind on stuff and not feeling well this week (darn pollen count), and have been meaning to read this for days. It’s a good post, too.

    It’s interesting to note that Lucius Malfoy is “in with the right people” and “very well connected” in the early books, but in the last image we have of him, he and Narcissa and Draco are sitting apart from the rest of the community. Not disowned, of course, but removed from the power that allowed them to abuse.

    Interesting comment about the House Quidditch teams. I had to stop and think about that. Sports teams are pretty much always divided according to arbitrary boundaries based on location, are they not? (Says the klutzy book worm. I know very little about competitive sports.) It’s certainly true that pitting Houses against each other heightens the friction, especially since it’s tied into the quest for House Cup, but I couldn’t think of another good way to divide them. If captains could freely pick from the entire student pool, it seems to me that it would be too easy to create bully teams.

    Having several levels of team, however–varsity, junior varsity, beginner–might take the pressure off. Maybe. I don’t know. It’s ten o’clock, and I’m not thinking clearly.

    “A rules stickler so rigid that no one noticed he was Imperiused during GoF” HAHAHA. Now that’s an indictment.

  2. Darn it, I always forget to sign up for comment notification. Sorry about the double post.

    Also, I don’t think Harry and the other “abandoned boys” (perhaps discounting Tom Riddle) would have found Hogwarts so much a home if it hadn’t felt like family. Imperfect Dumbledore may have been, but he was the closest thing Harry knew to a father’s love and care. The time with Sirius was too short, and Molly Weasley was much more actively a mother figure to Harry than Arthur was a father figure. Though I’m sure that changed when Harry married their daughter. 🙂

  3. Arabella said, “Hello? Anyone out there??”

    I’m not sure I understand what the vague Pink Floyd reference has to do with this post? 😉

    I’ve just still been trying to catch up from Holy Week & Easter & have good intentions of catching up on some of the more in depth posts around here.

  4. Thanks, Jenna, for not letting all this work slide into obscurity without some discussion. I hope youre feeling better soon; my husband is suffering similarly from spring allergies. And, George, I’ve looked forward to your thoughts about this subject. Pink Floyd kind of sounds like a wizard name, doesn’t it. 😉

    Hogwarts is a rather curious school. We have the Houses and that’s where school spirit seems to solely reside. We don’t read of intramural clubs, like a wizard chess club, or dragon fan club, or Mermish club, or choir/music club, or even a joke club, where students gather from all houses. They only seem to share classes, and some students date across houses.

    It all seems to be about Quiddithc and Houses.

    The House Cup is arbitrarily weighted by teacher favoritism toward their Houses. We see this specifically with Dumbledore, Sanpe, and McGonagall.

    I’ll have to get back to this later, as we’re leaving to go out.

  5. There were intramural groups but we just didn’t hear much about them from Harry’s point of view. What about Gobstones Club? And weren’t there other group/clubs that were a conflict with some candidates for the Gryffindor Quidditch team in OotP? These same groups were also banned by Umbridge.

  6. Snuzin, you’re right! I’d forgotten about the Gobstones Club and team conflicts. I did like the choir in Film!PoA. And good reminder that if it doesn’t concern Harry, we’re not going to hear about (or hear much about) it.

  7. What I’m struck by with many (though not all) of these various political and social groupings is the ways in which they are not like families. And dysfunctions can often created in some of them—such as government, a business, a club, or a college—when they are modeled too closely on a family structure.

    I realize that this claim forces me to define what I mean by family and how it differs from other sorts of groupings. Here’s a first run. A family seems to be a parent/child/sibling unit (whether small or extended, biological or adoptive) where young ones are raised, nurtured, and loved to become independent persons but with the expectation that one will always be in contact with them and care about them. There is partiality, paternalism, and protection at work. A lot of hoo-hah might be tolerated on the part of the family while someone develops and works through various issues throughout life.

    However, most if not all of these factors would be out of place in other realms where the purpose of the grouping or organization would be undermined. For example, Uncle Bob might always be late for Thanksgiving dinner, but you wouldn’t exclude him from arriving late on that account—after all, he’s the life of the party when he does arrive and, well, he’s your Uncle Bob. If Bob were chronically late to work, though, he’d be fired from his job regardless of how funny or nice he was once he straggled in at 10:30 rather than 9:00 for the third time in a row. The unprofessionalism of folks like Fudge as Minister of Magic and (sometimes) Snape as teacher point to what happens when an organization tolerates too much family-like behavior. A certain amount is okay for morale purposes, but the lines need to be clarified a bit. Which groupings are amenable to some family dynamics, which are not at all, and why?

    Even in the grouping that most closely approximates a family—Hogwarts Houses—this is not completely analogous. McGonagall does say, “While you are here . . . your house will be something like your family within Hogwarts,” but it is only “something like” a family. Yes, Harry does end up feeling affection for Hermione as though she were a sister, but she is one of his best friends, classmates, and comrades-in-arms. How he feels toward her about something like, say, dating is completely different from how Ron feels toward his actual sister Ginny when she dates guys. Ron gets bent out of shape and all big brother-like, while Harry seems to think that Hermione’s romantic attachments (whether to Viktor Krum or Ron) ultimately are her own business. There’s some kind of difference at work here, though it’s difficult to pin down….

    Not sure where I’m going with this now, but thanks, Arabella, for another thought-provoking post!

  8. Thank you, cbiondi, for the excellent argument. You make some good points, but you could say that I’m looking at the idea of family more diagonally.

    If you look at an organization vertically, as in your continually late employee example, yes, he’s going to be out on his can if he doesn’t satisfy requrements. So that isn’t so much like family (although it is for some, isn’t it, for those like Sirius who don’t “exceed expectations”).

    But if you look at the organization horizontally, it is much like a family, Uncle Bobs included. Every workplace I’ve been in has felt that way. We worked together, celebrated important (and unimportant) moments together, got together outside of work, supported each other, put up with each others’ foibles, and just as with Uncle Bob (and Sybil Trelawney), you can’t get away from the ones who annoy you. I grew as a person, developed close relationships with those in my work environments, and found several “moms,” “dads,” and “siblings” with whom I’m still in touch decades later. Those people mean as much to me as anyone in my current life.

    Lacking family of my own, I’ve found nurturing family elswhere, with all the love and friction of the kind of family you describe, whether it be in the workplace or other groups.

    In doing this project I found the ghosts and portraits as family quite interesting. There was so much there I’d not seen in previous readings.

  9. Oh, I almost forgot. Regarding your Harry/Hermione/Ron/Ginny point. Some older siblings, like Fred and George (and for all we know, Charlie and Bill), aren’t much concerned with their siblings’ relationships, feeling it’s not their business, and some, like Ron, get possessively protective. So we have examples of both kinds of behaviors within the same blood family, and see this reflected in the larger Hogwarts family.

  10. Arabella, as you know from my comments on your first post in the series, I think you are on to something in viewing extended groups as families.

    When you look at the behavior of people in these groups towards its members, you see lots of patterns that replicate family behavior: just think of your namesake, Arabella Figg, watching over Harry all those years. Stuck in a dreary Muggle suburb with no one but her cats. How she must have longed to tell Harry the truth and yet….What self-sacrifice! The kind of thing family does.

    And think of how important the one really healthy nuclear family is to the story. Without the Weasley’s where would Harry be? Where would the Order be? Even the extended Hogwarts family and the DA draw so much strength from the collective force that is the Weasley family.

    I always felt that both Harry and Hermione fell in love not just with Ginnie and Ron, respectively, but with the idea of really becoming part of the great Weasley tribe.

  11. Did you ever grow crystals as a science project? Maybe another helpful way to think about the bonds in the Harry Potter world comes not from biology, but from chemistry.

    I was thinking of the Weasely family and I had got this image of a really strong crystal: when conditions are just right the first crystal that forms from the seed crystal is large, strong and clear and new crystals that grow out from there are similarly shaped and also strong, with clear, well defined structures that mirror the original crystal. The process of crystal formation is called nucleation and the center from which the new crystal grow is called the nucleation site. The Weasleys, the strongest family in the HP series are a nucleation site like that. Everything the Weaselys come in contact with is strengthened all the way through the whole series.

    In contrast (and this is seen clearly for the first time in Order), the Black family is a flawed crystal, and the other crystals that form from the Black family are similarly flawed, broken, weak.

    Crystals need heat/energy to form.

    At the center of the Weasely crystal is Molly, whose favorite song is Celestina Warbeck’s Cauldron Full of Hot Strong Love. Molly Weasely is a short, plump, kind-faced woman who could look remarkably like a sabre-toothed tiger; her tiger mom fury comes from love and its purpose is always to guide and protect.

    In contrast, the flawed center of the Black crystal are women like Walburga Black (Sirius’ mother) whose anger is inchoate, directed at anyone and anything, she’s always lashing out for no good reason, just simply to vent her resentment. Her anger burns, rather than saving (think of the circular burns on the Black family tree tapestry).

  12. Sorry to monopolize the post, but I just thought of one more thing. The real resolution of the cbiondi and Arabella’s view of family comes not from biology or chemistry (at least not directly), but from the level of the Divine:

    Matthew 12:46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. 47 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”

    48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

  13. Mary Ellen, wow! Please monopolize away with such great insights. Going in order:

    @11 Yes, larger groups replicating family behavior, or as I put it, family dynamics extending beyond blood families. I love how you tied Arabella Figg into this, who as a single woman, had to sacrificially show her mothering love as restraint. How it must have pained her to create a home atmosphere that Harry dreaded. Many times she must have wanted to give him a really good time and tell the Durselys off. And I’m sure she regularly had to make reports to . . .

    Dumbledore, also single, who too had to subsume his fatherly love toward Harry by letting him grow up in an abusive home that would protect Harry’s life, and also plan for Harry’s death to save the world.

    I agree that being part of the Weasley family was a considerable attraction. I don’t think Hermione was with them as much as she was just because she loved Ron. Growing up without siblings, the hurly burly/affection/teasing of Weasley family life must have been wonderful for her, and I’m sure this was a big factor in her unwinding considerably in the later books.

    @12 I love this brilliant crystal analogy, and with your permission, would like to incorporate it in the upcoming parts on individual families. Re the Weasleys, you write: “when conditions are just right the first crystal that forms from the seed crystal is large, strong and clear and new crystals that grow out from there are similarly shaped and also strong, with clear, well defined structures that mirror the original crystal.” The first thing that came to my mind was “purity.” The Weasleys are pure, in their love, in their understanding of what family should be, in their inclusion of others. This is why Percy’s defection is so incredibly painful. As you say, the Weasleys strengthen and purify everyone with whom they come in contact, even while under deep pressure. (“Crystals need energy to form”). I love how you tied in A Cauldron Full of Hot, Strong Love; it makes perfect sense.

    Re the Blacks, you write: “In contrast (and this is seen clearly for the first time in Order), the Black family is a flawed crystal, and the other crystals that form from the Black family are similarly flawed, broken, weak…Walburga inchoate, lashing out.” Yes, a flawed crystal, dark, twisted, brittle, poisonous. Wonderful connection with the burns on the Black family tapestry.

    @13 I love this drawing in of Jesus’ definition of family. And this was the foundation of the church, too.

    Thank you for all these great contributions.

  14. @Arabella Figg
    Thank you for presenting all of the Family Ties observations. Yes, I was aware of most of them, but never really gave them the thought they deserved. Listed and displayed the way you have make me bonk my head and say, “Yes, of course! Why did I not think of this?!” Family is such an important theme of these books.

    @Mary Ellen- Fantastic crystals analogies. 🙂
    I also always love good and appropriate bible quotes. 😀

  15. I’ve not been able to check back here for a few days on account of pouring tons of time and energy into my students this week, so I’m glad to see that this discussion is still going on and pressing forward to develop important points. I hadn’t realized how controversial my claims from a few days ago were!

    The distinction you draw, Arabella, between vertical and horizontel structures within social/political organizations is very helpful. Yes, I think that the claims I made above @8 hold mostly for the vertical structures where the higher-ups are fearful of losing clients, customers, students, etc. if those who purchase their products and services regard the organization as unprofessional, inefficient, etc. as a result of tolerating too much family-like behavior in the organization.

    Looking at the horizontel dynamics certainly lends itself to allowing for more family-like bonds to form. Even here, though, there are boundaries that are enforced in many places not only by the higher-ups so as to encourage professionalism, but also by horizontel members who feel distracted or put upon by too much family-like behavior among one’s colleagues. I’ve worked at some places that are mom-and-pop outifts where the owners, co-workers, and customers liked the informal and affectionate family-feel of the place. However, I’ve also worked in some places where co-workers thought that that sort of familiarity was “emotionally invasive” or paternalistic or unprofessional. They were perfectly civil, courteous, and decent, but would not tolerate anything that smacked of the familial.

    I suppose, then, that whether non-family groupings are family-like or not is entirely up to those who comprise the organization. Some like to be like families and others don’t. At the very least, though, all of these require civility and respect for others’ rights in order to run well–and this does require some sort of care at an abstract level. Whether they go beyond this and embrace familial love is up to them. This kind of love cannot be forced, but must emerge organically from the members themselves.

    The point about Fred and George being as hands-off as Harry about their siblings’ romances is a good one. That seems on reflection to be more their personality than anything else. I recall that when they opened Weasleys Wizard Wheezes they did not allow Ron to take stuff from the shelves–much to Ron’s dismay, they told him to pay like any other customer (though Harry can take what he wants, since he gave the twins their start-up funds).

  16. Arabella, I so glad you enjoyed the comments and feel free to use in your next post (I can’t wait to read it)!

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