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ERIC Number: ED209151
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-Sep
Pages: 40
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: N/A
Dodging the Dangers of Reductionism: Some Thoughts on Recent Feminist Theory.
Smith, Joan
This paper identifies major theories prevalent in recent feminist scholarship, discusses biases inherent in these theories, and offers an original theoretical explanation for women's social and economic status. The major objective is to contribute to the body of feminist thought by exposing the biased conceptual tools used by many researchers to explain women's role as unwaged laborer in the home. Two theories often used to account for sexual inequality are biological determinism (biologism) and economic reductionism (economism). Proponents of biologism maintain that women are governed by biological (particularly reproductive) constraints which in turn shape their social lives. Proponents of economism, on the other hand, argue that women's subordination is the effect of the productive system and will be automatically eradicated once women play a parity role in the labor force. Review of recent literature on women's social status and aspirations indicates that among the major topics discussed are the nature of unemployment, the inability of socialist as well as capitalist societies to produce women's liberation, feminist political allegiances, universal qualities of patriarchial history, and material conditions which reinforce the old beliefs of male domination and female inferiority. Review of discussion by feminist and other social science scholars of these and similar questions leads the author to believe that have been only minimally successful in explaining female subordination. The author concludes that a more realistic theory of women's subordination would avoid economism and biologism and would stress instead a systematic and thoroughgoing reinvestigation of the ways we think about the subordination of women and the ways in which social politics implements this subordination. (DB)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Revisionism; Sociobiology
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association (Toronto, Ontario, Canada, August, 1981).