gender-3t by gegeshandong


									   Sociology: classical tradition
• Gender issues were peripheral (not important)
• Several early founders of sociology assumed
  that men and women are innately different and
  unequal in their intellectual, emotional and
  moral capacities
• Some theorists based their ideas on biological
  determinism to justify gender inequalities
• Sociology as a discipline developed in the
  19th century, and the sociologists were
  concerned with understanding political and
  economic changes, capitalist society and
  it’s class relationships
• Until the 1960s Sociology was the male
  research area
         Structural functionalism

• In their analysis of gender, structural
  functionalists begin with the observation
  that women and men are physically
  different. These biological differences
  have led to the emergence of different
  gender roles
• The concept of gender roles refers to the
  behaviors that are prescribed for a
  society’s members depending on their sex
• During the 1960s , structural functionalism
  began to lose its status as dominant
  sociological paradigm
• The 1960s was a period of social protest and
  activism, the sociologists began to question the
  accuracy of describing society and harmonious
  social system
• There emerged a number of different paradigms
• Particularly important to the sociological study of
  gender has been development of the feminist
              Feminist theory

• Although it’s roots/ beginning are in the
  18th century, has established in the
  academic discourse in the 1960s-1970s
• Feminist theory is bound with feminist
  movement of the 1960s-1970s – the
  projects of women’s emancipation and
  social changes
            Feminist movement

• What do we know about women’s life?
• Why are women in a lower position in
• Why the power is concentrated in men’s
• Why these issues are not investigated ,
  why they are not included to the academic
  Feminist critique of Malestream Sociology

• Sociological theories do not ask questions or do
  research in areas of concern to women: ‘Most of
  what we have formerly known as the study of
  society is only the male study of male society’
• Sociological theories have often taken for
  granted, rather than challenged, the view that
  the biological differences between women and
  men are sufficient to explain and justify the
  sexual division of labour
  Sociology is seen, at best, sex-blind and
  at worst sexist
Alice Rossi ‘Equality between the sexes’ (1964):
• critical evaluation of the position of women and
  men in society
• investigation of the social phenomena and
  human relations from women’s perspective
• women should be considered not as passive
  objects, but as active individuals, able to behave
  independently and make decisions
Simone de Beauvour ‘The Second Sex’ (1949) :

• Sets out a feminist existentialism
• As an existentialist, Beauvoir accepted Sartre's precept that
  existence precedes essence; hence One is not born a woman, but
  becomes one.
• Her analysis focuses on the Hegelian concept of the Other. It is
  the (social) construction of Woman as the quintessential Other that
  Beauvoir identifies as fundamental to women's oppression.
• Beauvoir argued that women have historically been considered
  deviant, abnormal. This attitude limited women's success by
  maintaining the perception that they were a deviation from the
  normal, and were always outsiders attempting to emulate
• She believed that for feminism to move forward, this assumption
  must be set aside.
   Feminist perspectives: central question

  The defining characteristic of feminism is the
  view that women’s subordination must be
  questioned and challenged:
• It’s important to understand, to explain how and
  why men oppress women [to understand
  patriarchal relationships that exist in the
  institutions and social practices of society]
• Feminist theory must also enable us to
  understand how we come to see ourselves as
  individuals - how we come to accept that
  women’s role is in the home, that women are
  capable only for certain jobs, etc.
            Feminist perspectives
  Feminism starts from the view that women are
  oppressed and that their oppression is primary:
• This involves critical examination of the present and past
  situation of women
• challenging the dominant patriarchal ideologies that seek
  to justify women’s subordination as natural, universal and
  therefore inevitable
• challenging knowledge that is put forward as universal
  and demonstrating that this knowledge views the world
  from the perspective of men
  What is necessary is a view of the world from the position
  of women, who have been excluded from the production
  of knowledge
• It is important to recognize that different
  women have different experiences of
• Feminist theory has tended to be
  developed by white, middle-class women
• These theories have been criticized for
  neglecting the experience of working-class
  and black women
      Feminist theory is also political

• It sets out not just explain society but to
  transform it.
• Feminist theories are concerned to analyse how
  women can transform society so that they are no
  longer subordinated
• Women’s movement and feminism are
  concerned with understanding women’s lives
  and developing strategies that will enable
  women to liberate themselves from oppression
           Interdisciplinary approach

• Feminists have sought to break down artificial –
  man-made – barriers between disciplines and to
  develop interdisciplinary studies
• These studies recognize that we cannot divide
  knowledge or women’s lives into separate areas:
  a women’s studies syllabus would include, for
  example, women’s literature, feminist social
  science, etc.
• Feminists have been interested in many areas
  that concern sociologists, and many female
  sociologists would regard themselves and the
  work they do as feminist
            Collecting feminist evidence

• The main research methods used in sociology are
  usually divided into ‘quantitative’ (questionnaire surveys
  and statistical analysis of secondary-source data) and
  ‘qualitative’ (in-depth interviewing, participant
  observation, etc.)
• Most feminists have argued that feminist researchers in
  sociology must use qualitative methods, so that women
  (and men) who are subjects of research area can be
• They also rejected the view that feminist researchers can
  be objective in the sense of being uninvolved, because
  as researchers they are part of what is being researched
• This means that reflectivity is essential
        Feminist perspectives
• Feminism is a theory – a world view.
• It is not a unified theory – feminists do not agree
   on the ways in which we can explain women’s
   subordination or how the women can be
• There are many attempts to classify feminist
  ‘The label feminism is one that creates more
   confusion than clarity’ (Liz Clarke and Tony
    Classification presented by British sociologists
          Pamela Abbot and Claire Wallace

    They have identified four feminist
•   Liberal/reformist
•   Marxist
•   Radical
•   Socialist
    The main distinction between feminist
    theories lies in their basic understanding of
    the causes of women’s oppression
     Liberal/reformist theory (Equal rights

• Can be identified clearly in the work of Mary
  Wollstonecraft (‘Vindication of the Rights of
  Women’, 1792 ) and John Stuart Mill (‘On the
  Subjection of Women’, 1869 )
• It is based on woman’s common humanity with
• The differences between men and women are
  explained in terms of the influence of the
     Liberal/reformist theory (Equal rights

• Further encouragement to equal rights feminists
  was provided by the American Revolution, and
  more specifically, the Declaration of
• Equal rights feminists made progress in the
  fields of legal rights of women, and education.
• This culminated in the Married Women’s
  Property Act of 1882, which gave women the
  right to their own property and earnings.
• By the end of 19th century it was possible for
  women to be educated to the same standard as
      Liberal/reformist theory (Equal rights

• Historically has been concerned to argue for equal rights
  for women
• Have fought against laws and practices that give rights
  to men and not to women
• Recognizing that mere formal equality is insufficient, they
  have also advocated for passing of laws to outlaw
  discrimination against women and to give women rights
  in the workplace such as maternity leave
• In sociology have been concerned to demonstrate that
  the observable differences between the sexes are not
  innate but a result of socialization
                        Marxist feminism
• Has developed out of the attempts by women to develop Marxist
  theory so that it provides an adequate explanation for the
  subordination and exploitation of women in capitalist societies
• The defining feature of contemporary society is capitalism, within
  which women are subject to a special form of oppression which is
  mainly the effect of their exclusion from wage labour
• A major problem for Marxist feminists – Marx himself was not
  concerned with the position of women in capitalist society
• They seek to analyse and explain the relationships between the
  subordination of women as well as forms off class exploitation, and
  which overcomes the theoretical marginalization of women in
  Marxist theory
• Michelle Barrett ‘Women’s Oppression Today’ (1980)
     Radical/revolutionary feminist theory
• Originates in the 18th century – owes much to
  revivals in evangelical Christianity which swept
  the USA and to lesser extent, Britain in the late
  18th and early 19th centuries
• Religious enthusiasm encouraged many towards
  social reforms - many women became involved
  in charitable works
• The closest links between the evangelical
  movement and feminism were provided by the
  anti-slavery movement
• The involvement of women in such political
  activity led to the gradual emergence of
  specifically feminist demands
      Radical/revolutionary feminist theory
• Central idea – gender inequalities are the outcome of a
  system of patriarchy and that gender inequalities are the
  primary form of social inequality
• Patriarchy is a universal system in which men dominate
• Primarily a revolutionary movement for the emancipation
  of women
• Theory is not a separate area of activity, but is an
  integral aspect of feminist practice
• Every aspect of women’s lives currently accepted as
  ‘natural’ has to be questioned and new ways of doing
  things found
      Radical/revolutionary feminist theory

Is not a unified area. There are three major issues within it:
• The relationship between feminist politics and personal
   sexual conduct – a key question being whether women
   can continue to live with men, or whether separation is
• Whether sex differences are biologically or socially
• The political strategy that should be adopted –
   withdrawal or revolution
      Radical/revolutionary feminist theory
Shulamith Firestone ‘The Dialectic of Sex’ (1974):
• ‘Sex class is so deep as to be invisible’. The aim – to
  make this visible
• The difference between genders structures the whole life
  – women are not only differentiated from men, but
  subordinated to them. ‘Man is the main enemy’
• Division between women and men has biological base
  (women are physically weaker because of their
  reproductive physiology)
• This leads to male domination
• Advances in reproductive technology make it possible to
  eliminate the biological basis of women’s subordination
     Radical/revolutionary feminist theory

• More radical feminists have rejected the view
  that women’s subordination is anything to do
  with women’s biological inferiority
• Male biology is to blame: men are naturally
  aggressive and use their aggression to control
• Mary Daly ‘Gyn/Ecology’ (1978)
• Women are encouraged to create a new identity
  founded on ‘true’ femaleness
• ‘Sisterhood’ – solidarity between women
• Ideal – women must live separately from men
     Radical/revolutionary feminist theory

• Radical feminists are concerned to reveal how
  male power is exercised and reinforced in all
  spheres of life, including personal relationships
  such as child-rearing, housework and marriage
  and in all kinds of sexual practices including
  rape, prostitution, sexual harassment.
• Women’s subordination is seen to be universal
  and primary, as not having changed significantly
  over time and place
• Men benefit as a class (and as individuals) from
  women’s subordination
     Radical/revolutionary feminist theory

• Radical feminists did not explain adequately the
  ways in which women are subordinated and
  exploited by men
• They fail to take sufficient account of the
  different forms that patriarchal relationships
  have taken in different societies
• They tend to discount the differences that exist
  in the experiences of women from different
  social classes
• Radical feminist biological explanations, while
  very different from those developed by
  malestream sociologists, are equally reductionist
  and fail to take into account ideology and culture
             Social feminism
• Recognizes two systems: the economic and the
• Patriarchy is seen as trans-historical – men
  exercise power over women in all societies
• Patriarchy takes specific form in capitalist
• Gender, class, race, age, nationality – all shape
  women’s oppression
• These specific forms of women’s subordination
  in capitalist society are seen as specific to that
  particular socio-economic system
                  Social feminism
• To understand women’s oppression fully is necessary to examine
  the sexual division of labour not only in the labour market, but also in
  domestic sphere, also the relationships between the two
• Women’s reproductive labour limits their access to wage labour, but
  the limited range of wage labour available to women is what drives
  many of them into marriage
• Sylvia Walby argues that that in capitalist society the key sets of
  patriarchal relations are to be found in domestic work, paid work, the
  state, and in male violence and sexuality.
• Patriarchy pre-dates capitalism, but takes new forms with capitalist
   All four feminist perspectives address the
  question of what constitutes the oppression of
  women, and suggest strategies for overcoming it:
• Liberal feminism is concerned with equal
  gender opportunities, women’s discrimination
  and fight for legal reforms to overcome it
• Marxist feminism argues that the major reason
  for women’s exclusion from public sphere and
  that a struggle for emancipation is an integral
  part of class struggle
• Radical feminists see male control of
  women (patriarchy) as the main problem
  and argue that women must fight to free
  themselves from this control
• Social feminists argue that women’s
  oppression is both the aspect of capitalism
  and class relations

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