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FEMINIST
THEORIZING
AND
FEMINISM IN
POLITICAL
SOCIOLOGY
By: Barbara Hobson
OVERVIEW
• Feminist Theory
• Feminism Theorizing on State
• Feminism Theorizing on Gender
• Feminism Theorizing on Citizenship
• Conclusion
What is Feminist Theory
• Feminist theory is a major branch of theory within
sociology that is distinctive for how its creators
shift their analytic lens, assumptions, and topical
focus away from the male viewpoint and
experience.
Feminism Theorizing on State
Feminism Theorizing on State
• Feminist theoretical positions on the state fell into
three broad categories:
– Marxist, Liberal and Radical.
Feminism Theorizing on State
• Within Marxian theory, the state is an agent of elite
capitalist power; gender exploitation is viewed as a
subset of class exploitation reproducing class
relations. Feminist theories sought to modify and
extend Marxist theories of production and
reproduction (Eisenstein, 1979; Sacks, 1974)
Feminism Theorizing on State
• Mary McIntosh (1978), in “The State and the Oppression
of Women,” linked the labor process to the institution of
the family. The state’s support for the male breadwinner
reproduced the division of labor in the household and
women’s dependency.
Feminism Theorizing on State
• Liberal feminist theory views the state as a potentially
neutral arbiter lacking any ideology of its own.
Recognizing that men dominate the state; liberal
feminism maintains that the state and its institutions
exist apart from men’s domination. State processes
are legitimate, but men have captured them (Connell,
1987).
Feminism Theorizing on State
• Radical feminist theory takes as its starting point
that the state is a system of structures and
institutions created by men in order to sustain
and recreate male power and female
subordination.
Feminism Theorizing on State
• Catherine MacKinnon (1983), a radical feminist,
theorizing on the state revolves around the sexual
subordination of women and how this subordination
is embedded in the state apparatus, procedures, and
structures.
• Radical feminist theorizing assumes the state is a
purposive actor reproducing patriarchy, that states
are masculinist, designed by men to serve their
interest.
Feminism Theorizing on Gender
Feminism Theorizing on Gender
• The postmodern turn has imploded the equality
and difference debate by destabilizing the very
category of woman and the political
underpinnings of feminism, which assumed
gendered identities and interest based on shared
experiences of subordination and exclusion.
Feminism Theorizing on Gender
• The idea of gendered collective struggles for
justice is rejected on two fronts:
– First, as a denial of unified experience upon which
women can frame claims for rights;
– Second, as a rejection of universalism as a legitimate
base for such claims
Feminism Theorizing on Gender
• Critical race and gender theories seek synthetic
analyses across race, class, and gender. Evolving
from the wellspring of research on gender and
the welfare states, Fiona Williams (1995) posits a
model of welfare states that views structured
social relations across race, class, and gender, all
of which are mutually constitutive and shape
women’s claims for inclusion.
Feminism Theorizing on Gender
• Mink (1994), for black feminist, a central argument in
feminist theories of women’s subordination, that the
family is viewed as a site of resistance against the
intrusion of the state. And in the same vein as the
black feminist from the former Soviet Regime
countries argue that for women under socialism, the
private sphere of protection and refuge against the
control of totalitarian regimes.
Feminism Theorizing on Gender
• Myra Marx Ferree’s (2000), analyzing the sources of
oppression from different lenses, East German
feminists addressed the structural features of state
power (public patriarchy);
• Meanwhile Western feminists viewed women’s
exploitation in terms of the power of individual men
over women in families and their acts of violence
toward women (private patriarchy).
Feminism Theorizing on Gender
• Research on gender and global restructuring has
underscored the exploitation between women,
making visible the class/gender positioning across
regions (Marchand and Runyan, 2000).
• Referring to the global care chain, feminist research
(Hochschild, 2000; Anderson, 2000; Gavanas and
Williams, in 2004) traces the migration of women
from the South who travel across continents to do the
“dirty work,” of middle class white women in the
North, leaving behind their own children to be cared
for by others.
Feminism Theorizing on Citizenship
Feminism Theorizing on Citizenship
• Definition of Citizenship
– Jones defines this dimension of citizenship “as an
action practiced by a people of certain identity in a
specifiable locale”.
– Turner (1993) uses active citizenship, and the
challenges from below to the spheres of family, and
religion. Although he seeks to overcome the
public/private split, Turner does not address at all the
gender implications of his analysis.
Feminism Theorizing on Citizenship
• Civic Republicanism: Participation, Rights, and
Obligations
– Civic Republicanism dates back to ancient Greece
and the ideal of civic duty and the political
obligations in the polity.
– Bussemaker and Voet (1998), Eighteenth-century feminists
used the discourse of civic republicanism to argue for
women’s inclusion into the ranks of citizens, and to press for
equal citizenship with men.
Feminism Theorizing on Citizenship
• Participatory Democracy
– Habermas (1990), in his generalized notion of the
public sphere constructs a framework for participatory
democracy, which is an intermediary space between
the political system and private sectors of lifeworld.
However according to Nancy Fraser (1989), what is
missing in Habermas’s analysis is a gendered subtext
on the public and private.
Feminism Theorizing on Citizenship
• Iris Young (2000), claims that subordinated groups,
minorities, poor people, and women, historically
created “subaltern counter publics,” often lack the
associational life that provides forums for its
members to raise issues among themselves.
What is Feminist Theory
• Feminist theory is a major branch of theory within
sociology that is distinctive for how its creators
shift their analytic lens, assumptions, and topical
focus away from the male viewpoint and
experience.
Feminism Theorizing on Citizenship
• T.H. Marshall: Social Citizenship and Membership
– For many feminist theorists, T. H. Marshall provided a
framework for confronting histories of exclusion,
though class inequality, not gender, underlay
Marshall’s framework of social citizenship.
– Marshall (1950) Social citizenship, “as a status
bestowed on those who are full members of a
community. All who possess the status are equal with
respect to the rights and duties with which the status is
endowed”.
Feminism Theorizing on Citizenship
• (Hobson, 1994; Orloff, 1993) Feminist theorizing
introduced a gender-sensitive dimension of social
citizenship – the right to form independent
households without the risk of poverty.
• This dimension of gendered social rights
challenged mainstream theories that focused on
the state/market nexus on two levels.
Feminism Theorizing on Citizenship
• First, states a role in the stratification within societies
• Second, they argued that decommodifying policies are
gendered, often those aimed at women workers such as
maternity leave and the parent’s right to work part-
time, and often had the perverse effect of intensifying
gender segregated labor markets, leading to greater
gender stratification in the labor market.
Feminism Theorizing on Citizenship
• Thomas Janoski’s (1998) concept of participation
rights is also relevant to this discussion. Extending
Marshall’s model of citizenship, he introduces
participation rights that embrace workers’
councils and organizations that set the course for
policy.
Conclusion
• Global citizen is metaphor that suggests new legal and political
opportunities, which may have significance for marginalized groups.
• Transnational actors even when they are mobilizing in global forums
– the centralizing role played by the UN conferences comes to mind –
the transnational networks that they spawned seek to influence and
recast rights and claims for full citizenship in respective national
settings.
• The challenge for feminist theorizing is to imagine the practice of
citizenship in a multidimensional and dynamic context of gendered
actors across local, national, and supranational arenas. This is to take
into account how global restructuring and new supranational
institutions is important to combat stratification.

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Feminist theorizing and feminism in political sociology

  • 2. OVERVIEW • Feminist Theory • Feminism Theorizing on State • Feminism Theorizing on Gender • Feminism Theorizing on Citizenship • Conclusion
  • 3. What is Feminist Theory • Feminist theory is a major branch of theory within sociology that is distinctive for how its creators shift their analytic lens, assumptions, and topical focus away from the male viewpoint and experience.
  • 5. Feminism Theorizing on State • Feminist theoretical positions on the state fell into three broad categories: – Marxist, Liberal and Radical.
  • 6. Feminism Theorizing on State • Within Marxian theory, the state is an agent of elite capitalist power; gender exploitation is viewed as a subset of class exploitation reproducing class relations. Feminist theories sought to modify and extend Marxist theories of production and reproduction (Eisenstein, 1979; Sacks, 1974)
  • 7. Feminism Theorizing on State • Mary McIntosh (1978), in “The State and the Oppression of Women,” linked the labor process to the institution of the family. The state’s support for the male breadwinner reproduced the division of labor in the household and women’s dependency.
  • 8. Feminism Theorizing on State • Liberal feminist theory views the state as a potentially neutral arbiter lacking any ideology of its own. Recognizing that men dominate the state; liberal feminism maintains that the state and its institutions exist apart from men’s domination. State processes are legitimate, but men have captured them (Connell, 1987).
  • 9. Feminism Theorizing on State • Radical feminist theory takes as its starting point that the state is a system of structures and institutions created by men in order to sustain and recreate male power and female subordination.
  • 10. Feminism Theorizing on State • Catherine MacKinnon (1983), a radical feminist, theorizing on the state revolves around the sexual subordination of women and how this subordination is embedded in the state apparatus, procedures, and structures. • Radical feminist theorizing assumes the state is a purposive actor reproducing patriarchy, that states are masculinist, designed by men to serve their interest.
  • 12. Feminism Theorizing on Gender • The postmodern turn has imploded the equality and difference debate by destabilizing the very category of woman and the political underpinnings of feminism, which assumed gendered identities and interest based on shared experiences of subordination and exclusion.
  • 13. Feminism Theorizing on Gender • The idea of gendered collective struggles for justice is rejected on two fronts: – First, as a denial of unified experience upon which women can frame claims for rights; – Second, as a rejection of universalism as a legitimate base for such claims
  • 14. Feminism Theorizing on Gender • Critical race and gender theories seek synthetic analyses across race, class, and gender. Evolving from the wellspring of research on gender and the welfare states, Fiona Williams (1995) posits a model of welfare states that views structured social relations across race, class, and gender, all of which are mutually constitutive and shape women’s claims for inclusion.
  • 15. Feminism Theorizing on Gender • Mink (1994), for black feminist, a central argument in feminist theories of women’s subordination, that the family is viewed as a site of resistance against the intrusion of the state. And in the same vein as the black feminist from the former Soviet Regime countries argue that for women under socialism, the private sphere of protection and refuge against the control of totalitarian regimes.
  • 16. Feminism Theorizing on Gender • Myra Marx Ferree’s (2000), analyzing the sources of oppression from different lenses, East German feminists addressed the structural features of state power (public patriarchy); • Meanwhile Western feminists viewed women’s exploitation in terms of the power of individual men over women in families and their acts of violence toward women (private patriarchy).
  • 17. Feminism Theorizing on Gender • Research on gender and global restructuring has underscored the exploitation between women, making visible the class/gender positioning across regions (Marchand and Runyan, 2000). • Referring to the global care chain, feminist research (Hochschild, 2000; Anderson, 2000; Gavanas and Williams, in 2004) traces the migration of women from the South who travel across continents to do the “dirty work,” of middle class white women in the North, leaving behind their own children to be cared for by others.
  • 18. Feminism Theorizing on Citizenship
  • 19. Feminism Theorizing on Citizenship • Definition of Citizenship – Jones defines this dimension of citizenship “as an action practiced by a people of certain identity in a specifiable locale”. – Turner (1993) uses active citizenship, and the challenges from below to the spheres of family, and religion. Although he seeks to overcome the public/private split, Turner does not address at all the gender implications of his analysis.
  • 20. Feminism Theorizing on Citizenship • Civic Republicanism: Participation, Rights, and Obligations – Civic Republicanism dates back to ancient Greece and the ideal of civic duty and the political obligations in the polity. – Bussemaker and Voet (1998), Eighteenth-century feminists used the discourse of civic republicanism to argue for women’s inclusion into the ranks of citizens, and to press for equal citizenship with men.
  • 21. Feminism Theorizing on Citizenship • Participatory Democracy – Habermas (1990), in his generalized notion of the public sphere constructs a framework for participatory democracy, which is an intermediary space between the political system and private sectors of lifeworld. However according to Nancy Fraser (1989), what is missing in Habermas’s analysis is a gendered subtext on the public and private.
  • 22. Feminism Theorizing on Citizenship • Iris Young (2000), claims that subordinated groups, minorities, poor people, and women, historically created “subaltern counter publics,” often lack the associational life that provides forums for its members to raise issues among themselves.
  • 23. What is Feminist Theory • Feminist theory is a major branch of theory within sociology that is distinctive for how its creators shift their analytic lens, assumptions, and topical focus away from the male viewpoint and experience.
  • 24. Feminism Theorizing on Citizenship • T.H. Marshall: Social Citizenship and Membership – For many feminist theorists, T. H. Marshall provided a framework for confronting histories of exclusion, though class inequality, not gender, underlay Marshall’s framework of social citizenship. – Marshall (1950) Social citizenship, “as a status bestowed on those who are full members of a community. All who possess the status are equal with respect to the rights and duties with which the status is endowed”.
  • 25. Feminism Theorizing on Citizenship • (Hobson, 1994; Orloff, 1993) Feminist theorizing introduced a gender-sensitive dimension of social citizenship – the right to form independent households without the risk of poverty. • This dimension of gendered social rights challenged mainstream theories that focused on the state/market nexus on two levels.
  • 26. Feminism Theorizing on Citizenship • First, states a role in the stratification within societies • Second, they argued that decommodifying policies are gendered, often those aimed at women workers such as maternity leave and the parent’s right to work part- time, and often had the perverse effect of intensifying gender segregated labor markets, leading to greater gender stratification in the labor market.
  • 27. Feminism Theorizing on Citizenship • Thomas Janoski’s (1998) concept of participation rights is also relevant to this discussion. Extending Marshall’s model of citizenship, he introduces participation rights that embrace workers’ councils and organizations that set the course for policy.
  • 28. Conclusion • Global citizen is metaphor that suggests new legal and political opportunities, which may have significance for marginalized groups. • Transnational actors even when they are mobilizing in global forums – the centralizing role played by the UN conferences comes to mind – the transnational networks that they spawned seek to influence and recast rights and claims for full citizenship in respective national settings. • The challenge for feminist theorizing is to imagine the practice of citizenship in a multidimensional and dynamic context of gendered actors across local, national, and supranational arenas. This is to take into account how global restructuring and new supranational institutions is important to combat stratification.

Editor's Notes

  1. Intro: We all know what Feminism is, it is an interdisciplinary approach to issues of equality and equity based on gender, gender expression, gender identity, sex, and sexuality as understood through social theories and political activism. ………………in doing so, feminist theory shines light on social problems, trends, and issues that are otherwise overlooked or misidentified by the historically dominant male perspective within social theory. Key areas of focus within feminist theory include discrimination and exclusion on the basis of sex and gender, objectification, structural and economic inequality, power and oppression, and gender roles and stereotypes, among others.
  2. …..to go beyond the analysis of women’s unwaged labor in the household as reproducing and maintaining an exploited labor force
  3. McIntosh emphasized the contradictions in these state interventions in sustaining these relationships. By making women dependent on men’s wages, they kept women in a semiproletarianized state – easily exploited.
  4. Given this perspective, liberal feminist approaches embrace strategies for more access and influence (Gelb, 1989; Klein, 1987; Sawer, 1993). Note: Women’s agency is a crucial dimension in liberal feminist theorizing on the state and is an explanatory variable for variations across states in terms of women’s voice/representation and their influence over gender inequalities.
  5. Note: Other Radical feminist theorizing has rejected the essentialism implicit in MacKinnon’s stance in which men and women appear as fixed categories of dominant and subordinate. However, her emphasis on sexuality as the core of state patriarchy continues to influence radical feminists’ analyses of the state and the governance of gender. Note: a suspicion and pessimism remain about the potential of state institutions to address feminist politics.
  6. Here is an example critical and race gender theory….
  7. Intro: the clash between feminisms is highlighted, analysis of two distinct feminisms in East and West Germany;
  8. Note: Nevertheless, global restructuring has created a theoretical bridge across North and South, revealing similar processes in the feminization of irregular labor, that women are employed in temporary irregular employment. The effects of global restructuring are mirrored in the retreat of the state and the effects on the care deficit and the loss of social infrastructure in societies in the North and South.
  9. Note(Intro): For many feminist scholars, the frame of citizenship has opened up conceptual space for developing theories of women’s agency, a theoretical perspective that has been confounded by the postmodernist challenge to the existence of women as collective. The framework of citizenship also has enabled feminist scholars to confront histories of discrimination and exclusion through the lens of social citizenship, which has enhanced the analysis of the role of institutions and welfare state structures in reproducing gender inequalities.
  10. (Still part of Intro): Citizenship studies continue to be gender-blind. In trying to develop a full vision for gendered citizenship, feminist theorizing has drawn on two traditions: (1) civic republicanism and participatory citizenship, reflected in a range of theories, most recently communitarianism; and (2) citizenship, inclusion, and membership embodied in Marshall’s theories of social citizenship.
  11. 1. Note: Civic Republicanism is a Jeffersonian notion that deserves our contemporary attention. Civic Republicanism centers on two interrelated ideas, civic responsibility and community. Civic responsibility refers to the sense of responsibility that we have toward one another, and for one another's well-being.
  12. Note: The dialogue between feminists and participatory democratic theory has been essentially a feminist interpolation, as much of the theorizing remains gender-blind.
  13. Intro: The rise of subaltern counter publics Note: Subaltern counterpublics are discursive arenas that develop in parallel to the official public spheres and “where members of subordinated social groups invent and circulate counter discourses to formulate oppositional interpretations of their identities, interests, and needs”.
  14. Intro: and with social citizenship
  15. Note: Decommodification embodies those rights that weakened a worker’s dependence on the market.
  16. Marshall (1950) Social citizenship, “as a status bestowed on those who are full members of a community. All who possess the status are equal with respect to the rights and duties with which the status is endowed”. Note: Gendering (The three genders are masculine, feminine, and neuter. Being more aware) this concept of participation rights involves incorporating dimensions of women’s inclusion into policymaking bodies.
  17. Global citizen is metaphor that suggests new legal and political opportunities, which may have significance for marginalized groups. Transnational actors even when they are mobilizing in global forums – the centralizing role played by the UN conferences comes to mind – the transnational networks that they spawned seek to influence and recast rights and claims for full citizenship in respective national settings. The challenge for feminist theorizing is to imagine the practice of citizenship in a multidimensional and dynamic context of gendered actors across local, national, and supranational arenas. This is to take into account how global restructuring and new supranational institutions is important to combat stratification.