• book

From the Publisher

This book reconsiders the dominant Western understandings of freedom through the lens of women's real-life experiences of domestic violence, welfare, and Islamic veiling. Nancy Hirschmann argues that the typical approach to freedom found in political philosophy severely reduces the concept's complexity, which is more fully revealed by taking such practical issues into account.

Hirschmann begins by arguing that the dominant Western understanding of freedom does not provide a conceptual vocabulary for accurately characterizing women's experiences. Often, free choice is assumed when women are in fact coerced--as when a battered woman who stays with her abuser out of fear or economic necessity is said to make this choice because it must not be so bad--and coercion is assumed when free choices are made--such as when Westerners assume that all veiled women are oppressed, even though many Islamic women view veiling as an important symbol of cultural identity.

Understanding the contexts in which choices arise and are made is central to understanding that freedom is socially constructed through systems of power such as patriarchy, capitalism, and race privilege. Social norms, practices, and language set the conditions within which choices are made, determine what options are available, and shape our individual subjectivity, desires, and self-understandings. Attending to the ways in which contexts construct us as "subjects" of liberty, Hirschmann argues, provides a firmer empirical and theoretical footing for understanding what freedom means and entails politically, intellectually, and socially.

Published: Princeton University Press on
ISBN: 9781400825363
List price: $45.00
Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
Availability for The Subject of Liberty: Toward a Feminist Theory of Freedom
With a 30 day free trial you can read online for free
  1. This book can be read on up to 6 mobile devices.

Related Articles

6 min read

How to Create a Giveback Program Without Breaking the Bank

Aaron and Evan Steed were busy high school athletes looking for a job that wouldn’t interfere with their practice schedule. They found it in 1997 when a family friend needed help moving and offered $20 and a pizza. The brothers enjoyed the work and wanted more, so they dubbed themselves Meathead Movers and blanketed the neighborhood with flyers; their high school’s pay phone became their office line. The first inquiries came from family friends and neighbors. Then strangers. And then, the unexpected: domestic violence victims, both women and men, who had little money but needed to quickly flee
3 min read

Not-So-Sweet Home: The Persistence of Domestic Violence

The home is in many ways the basic unity of society, a bastion of shelter and family bonds. It is the means by which the social order is reproduced and the context in which children are brought into the world. Yet for millions of women, children, and men, all over the world, home is not a safe place. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, each year an estimated 1.3 million women and more than 200,000 men in the U.S. are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner. Around 70% of these assaults take place in or near the home. The challenge of dealing with domestic
The Atlantic
6 min read

Trump’s ‘Honor Killing’ Tracking System Could Exacerbate Domestic Violence

President Trump released a new executive order on immigration and refugees on Monday. Like the previous version of the order, it includes a number of new tracking requirements for the Department of Homeland Security. While the list of requirements mostly focuses on terrorism-related activities and major crimes, it also calls out one specific category of crime: “so-called ‘honor killings’” and “acts of gender-based violence against women … by foreign nationals.” While this provision of the executive order concerns all “foreign nationals,” it seems to be focused on violence in Muslim communities