Engendering the Social by Barbara L Marshall, Anne Witz

By Barbara L Marshall, Anne Witz

This edited quantity specializes in the tricky engendering of classical and modern sociological conception, addressing questions equivalent to: How have been the rules of sociological idea formed via an implicit masculinity? Did classical sociology easily mirror or actively build theories of sexual distinction? How have been substitute money owed of the social suppressed in sociology's founding moments? Feminist interventions in sociology are nonetheless visible as marginal to sociological theorizing. This assortment demanding situations this truncated imaginative and prescient of sociological thought. partly one, members interrogate the classical canon, exposing the masculinist assumptions that saturate the conceptual scaffolding of sociology. partly , individuals reflect on the long-standing and frustrating dating among sociology and feminism, retrieving voices marginalized inside of or excluded from canonical buildings of sociological idea. partially 3, individuals interact with key modern debates, explicitly engendering money owed of the social. Engendering the Social is exclusive in that it not just seriously interrogates sociological idea from a feminist standpoint, but additionally embarks on a politics of reconstruction, operating creatively on the interface of feminist and sociological idea to urge a extra sufficient conceptualisation of the social. this can be a key textual content for undergraduate and postgraduate scholars in sociology, social thought and feminist idea.

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Initiation rituals for men differentiated them from women and children, and in doing so initiated them into social life. How, then, are we to read women into Durkheim’s more general argument about the sources of the social? Denied entry into collective ritual, or access to the representation of the social via totemic symbols, women’s bodies mark them as not-social. Man is located in, yet transcends his body in religious ecstasy, substituting a collective sentiment for his own sense-perceptions.

Women are gradually differentiated from men in the morphological characteristics of height, weight and even brain size – women’s are smaller than men’s – so that the ‘two great functions of psychic life’ are separated, one taking care of the ‘affective functions and the other of intellectual functions’ ([1933] 1964a: 60). This progressive differentiation of the sexes is part of the ‘conquest of society over nature’ (Durkheim [1933] 1964a: 386). The conquest of nature involved the ‘subordination of external forces to social forces’ so that freedom and autonomy, at least for men, are the product of the regulation of ‘the state of nature’ (Durkheim [1933] 1964a: 387).

He works with an A/B contrary distinction, yet this is articulated within a metaphysical ontology of being. He repeatedly attempts to think woman into society and culture but is forced by the power of his own metaphysics of gender to admit defeat. Simmel’s (1984a) question of whether a ‘female culture’ is possible, given that objective culture is shaped by a male principle is, of course, an apothetic or unanswerable question which cannot be pursued without encountering major contradictions and antinomies that must necessarily emerge from his dualistic gender metaphysics (Lichtblau 1989/90; see also Oakes 1984b; van Vucht Tijssen 1991; Witz 2001).

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