The Foundations of Social Research

Michael Crotty Chapter 8 Feminism: Re-visioning the Manmade World

The Foundations of Social Research
• All previous epistemological and theoretical positions have been characterized by pluralism, contradiction and conflict • Feminism is no different. • In keeping with Crotty’s tendency to connect each of the chapters, why do you suppose he followed Freire up with feminism?

The Foundations of Social Research
• Is it possible for a man to be a feminist? • Why does Crotty argue that for women to attain equality they must lead the movement and constitute its core? • What does Crotty mean when he says “patriarchy and sexism are not fetters worn by females only; they severely limit human possibility for males as well.”

The Foundations of Social Research
• What is patriarchy?
– A system in which men dominate because power and authority are in the hands of adult men.

• What is Sexism?
– One of the systems/-isms that facilitate privilege and inequality, subordination and domination on the basis of gender (Notice I didn’t say sex).

The Foundations of Social Research
• Varieties of Feminism: Crotty gives us seven. I’ve heard of as many as eleven • Liberal Feminism: privileges the autonomy of a person and views the just society as a system of individual rights that safeguard personal autonomy and allow self-fulfillment. Comes from liberalism, classical or welfare and is very mainstream feminism (equal pie analogy)

The Foundations of Social Research
• Marxist Feminism: revolutionary, not merely reformist (as in liberal feminism). Without radical change to the class structure, the equal opportunity sought by feminists is a chimaera. Capitalism is patriarchal and sexist. Domestic (private labor as unpaid, undervalued labor)

The Foundations of Social Research
• Radical Feminism: The oppression of women is the oldest, most profound and widespread form of oppression. Oppression of women tends to cause more suffering than any other form. Model of oppressing women is necessary to understand all oppression. Oppression began with women (new pie). Separatist feminism (Daly, Sonia Johnson). Eradicate patriarchy. Most don’t “hate” men, but hate patriarchy, and some believe that men cannot escape patriarchy.

The Foundations of Social Research
• Psychoanalytic Feminism: Freud and the women’s psyche. Oppression arises out of sexuality. Break with biological determinism (Freud)—Jacques Lacan, post-structuralism • Socialist Feminism: confluence of Marxist, psychoanalytic and radical streams. Each by itself is limiting for different reasons (crotty briefs) and these feminists try to weave together their strengths.

The Foundations of Social Research
• Existentialist Feminism: Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, partners with Jean Paul Sartre, another existentialist philosopher.
– Poir soi (conscious being) and en soi (being-as-object), modes of being. – Self and other distinctions: other=another personal being. Even though the other person is a conscious being, we dissociate ourselves from the other person as a being as object. This is mutual dissociation leading to perceptions of the “other” as a threat and an object.

The Foundations of Social Research
• Beauvoir construes man as self and woman as other. The other being a threat to self, woman must be seen as a threat to man and he needs to make her subordinate. Hence the oppression of women. • Postmodern Feminism: Helene Cixous, Luce Iragaray, Julia Kristeva; deconstructionist (poststructuralist) • Lacan and the imaginary • Irigaray and “sameness”

The Foundations of Social Research
• I’ll add womanism: bell hooks-critique of Betty Friedan and liberal feminism, critique of Stokely Carmichael and the subordination of women in the civil rights movement, focus on race as a unique experience and significant factor for women of color, also the knowledge of the double consciousness, Dubois, The Souls of Black Folks. • I’ll add ecofeminism: Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva, the oppression of women is tied to the destruction of the environment.

The Foundations of Social Research
• Categories as heuristic device… • The masculine epistemology of typologies, taxonomies, hierarchies for archiving and evaluating knowledge • For feminists, the binaries, particularly male/female are very problematic and the male/female binary is primary to the epistemological and ontological experience of humans and it has a patriarchal source. • Is there a uniquely feminine (and by definition, masculine) epistemology/ontology?

The Foundations of Social Research
• What radical feminism offers in terms of critical theory that differs from that of traditionally masculine critical theorists • More optimistic and humane version of change • And to bring revolutionary change into the realm of the possible • But is that truly unique? And, given Adorno’s critique of the concept, is categorization and binary thinking uniquely male?

The Foundations of Social Research
• Seigfried’s caveat: “(feminine traits)…can be understood as the expression of feminine style without implying that all women think this way or that no men do.” • Crotty argues, “The real point is, not that feminists gain insights never glimpsed by others, especially not by males, but that, as feminist insights, they are grounded in, and stem from, a specifically feminist standpoint. (i.e., Adorno may rail against classification but does so on different grounds) If you disagree with this, see Sandra Harding (go to Caryn Riswold). • What about an epistemic community, as Assiter posits, p. 173?

The Foundations of Social Research
• Crotty posits that it is not that women “know” in a fundamentally different way than men, but that they theorize the act of knowing in a way different from that of men. What do you think? • Are men and women essentially different, inside and out and what would it mean either way?

The Foundations of Social Research
• Gilligan: women speak in a different voice… • Harding: the rational is gendered… • Fonow and Cook: carefully designed research grounded in feminist theory and ethics is more useful to understanding women’s experiences than allegiance to any one particular method per say (i.e., quantitative as masculine, qualitative as feminine).
– A major feature of feminist epistemology is attention to the affective components of the research act.

The Foundations of Social Research
• Fonow and Cook look to Alison Jaggar • Attention to the realm of emotion-continuous feedback loop between our emotional constitution and our theorizing such that each continually modifies the other and is in principle inseparable from it…(feedback loop, emotion as heuristic device, sounds also like hermeneutics in a way) • Jaggar’s outlaw emotions: conventionally unacceptable emotional responses… • Jaggar doesn’t presume that women are more in touch with or more influenced by emotions than are men…but rejects the idea of the dispassionate investigator…which she deems racist, classist, and sexist.

The Foundations of Social Research
• Read quotation p. 176 top. • Jaggar counters this with the idea that many outlaw emotions are already or potentially feminist emotions…Emotions become feminist once they incorporate feminist perceptions and values, similar to Assiter, a group’s epistemological stance does not stem from the identity of the group members, but from sharing certain values (i.e., undermining oppressive gender-based power relations) What does that mean for men then? Can they be part of the feminist epistemic community from that basis?

The Foundations of Social Research
• So we have covered feminist theory and epistemology, what of methodology? • Are their methodologies uniquely feminist? • For many, it is a question of feminist perspectives entering into existing methodologies which makes them unique. • Feminine forms of research v. feminist forms of research… • Is uniqueness simply a question of style or something inherently unique? • Is it useful to retain the adjective “feminist?” • Essentialism and its impact on gender/sexuality v. social constructionism and its impact on gender/sexuality… • Research as Revision…