Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1959.13/923590
- Feminist social theory
- The Unviersity of Newcastle. Faculty of Education and Arts, School of Humanities and Social Science
- There are a number of ways in which the history of feminist social theory has been thought and told. One of the most often rehearsed is the idea that feminist social theory has moved away from the ideals of Enlightenment thought, associated with universalist values of rationality, reason, and equality. It has been claimed that feminist social theory has moved instead towards 'post-Enlightenment' values, associated with ideas of 'difference', 'specificity', and 'particularism'. In this sense it has been suggested that feminist social theory has contested the ideals that classical social theory both embodied and contributed towards-ideals exemplified in the work of figures such as Marx, Weber, Durkheim, and Simmel. While this narrative is widely told and certainly sheds light on some important trajectories of feminist social theory, it is misleading to speak of any straightforward shift from Enlightenment to 'post-Enlightenment', or to 'postmodern', thinking in contemporary feminist theory. This assumption overlooks a number of ways in which contemporary feminist theorists have rethought and are rethinking the social categories of gender in full recognition of the problems associated with the traditions of Enlightenment thought. To understand this ambivalent and multi-sided legacy, this chapter provides an overview of feminist social theory by setting out three key moments or phases in the history of feminist interventions in social analysis. The first moment or phase involves the observation that both classical and contemporary social theory tends to exclude women from the object-domain of social theory arrd that masculinity remains routinely privileged in accounts of sociality and modernity. The second moment or phase involves attempts to correct this exclusion by means of a thoroughgoing historicization and sociologization of the category of woman, notably by means of the concept of 'gender'. The third moment or phase involves qualified criticism of feminist projects which seek to historicize and socialize the category of woman. This has involved the observation that sometimes such projects may simply add women into pre-existing theoretical frameworks, leaving the assumptions of such frameworks untouched and ignoring their fundamentally gendered character. We begin by looking at feminist analyses of the association of modernity with masculinity in classical social thought. We then discuss some of the most important themes in contemporary feminist social theory concerning labour, reproduction, sexuality, and gender and the relation of gender to class and ethnicity.
- Modern Social Theory p. 233-251
- Oxford University Press
- Resource Type
- book chapter