Sociological Feminism is an umbrella term used here to group all authors who use a primarily sociological approach to feminism and issues of gender and gender relations, but, also, do not belong to some other type of feminism – radical, Marxist (socialist), liberal, psychoanalytic, ecological, and black. Some of the most notable and influential sociological feminists are: Simone de Beauvoir, Jessie Bernard, Ester Boserup, Sophonisba Preston Breckinridge, Judith Butler, Janet Chafetz, Connell W. Reawyn, Mary E. Smith Coolidge, Rosemary Crompton, Sandra Harding, Donna Haraway, Arlie Russell Hochschild, Viola Klein, Mirra Komarovsky, Alva Myrdal, Ann Oakley, Barbara Reskin, Barbara Risman, Alice S. Rossi, Sara Ruddick, Dorothy Smith, Sylvia Walby, and Marianne Weber.
American sociologist Mary Roberts Coolidge (1860-1945) was the first person to receive a full professorship in sociology in the United States at Stanford University. She studied and statistically processed data on women's poverty, studied Victorian sexuality, and was one of the founders of feminism in the United States. She believed that women and their life chances were limited by the dress code, language, and market. She fought for the right to vote for women. Coolidge also researched social security systems and believed that sociology, in addition to documenting problems and poverty, should also direct political and economic reforms. In a large study on Chinese immigration to the United States, she studied the laws and history to give a detailed description of the racial relations between the Chinese and the wider European population in the USA. She also conducted ethnographic research on endangered native tribes in Arizona and New Mexico.
American sociologist Sophonisba Breckinridge (1866-1948) was the first woman to graduate in law in the United States and the first woman to receive a doctorate in economics and political science from the University of Chicago, where she later taught social work. Breckinridge is considered the founder of the academic discipline of social work. She studied problems of juvenile delinquency; the social security system in the United States; the position of women and the attitude of the state towards the family. She helped the founding of the Women's Trade Union League in Chicago. She strongly advocated that the state must take an active role in creating public social protection programs. In the book The Delinquent Child and the Home (1912a), Breckinridge shows that poverty and life in overcrowded urban neighborhoods are the main sources of delinquent behavior among children. She also reveals how delinquent children, from different classes, experience different fates - while children from poor families often go to juvenile correctional facilities, at the same time, children from rich families are sent to expensive boarding schools the book The Modern Household (1912b) she explores all the roles and jobs women have to perform in the household. Women who work outside the household are not at all relieved of all those household duties performed by women who do not have formal jobs.
German sociologist Marianne Weber (1870-1954) had a huge impact on sociology with her writings and her activism. Her books and articles, as well as her activism and political career, were marked by the struggle for women's rights. She joined a feminist organization while still studying in Heidelberg, and her work was greatly influenced by her trip to the United States in 1904, where she met many feminist authors and reformers, including Jane Adams. Weber advocated for the education of women so that they could achieve intellectual development and achieve financial independence through paid work. In the essay "On the Evaluation of Housework" (1912), she described the double burden that women experience, because they perform poorly paid manual work, and in the household, they take care of the family and the house. This double burden leads not only to economic exploitation but also to a loss of self-esteem in women. Weber advocated for gender equality and the adoption of marriage laws that will determine a fixed amount of the husband's income that will be allocated to the woman for her use. She fought for both legal reform and cultural reform, which would change marital customs.
In the article "Authority and Autonomy in Marriage" (1912), Weber argues that marital relationships, in which there is the subordination of women, are harmful to both women and men. In "Women and Objective Culture" (1913), Marianne Weber criticizes Simmel's view that men create an objective culture and that women create subjective culture. She believes that there is no metaphysical difference between men and women and that, despite some differences, there is an essential similarity between the two sexes. Both women and men possess rationality, objectivity, and orientation to goal attainment, that is, all the qualities necessary to create an objective culture. Women are forcibly excluded from the creation of objective culture through social regulations, and thus a huge contribution that women could make to objective culture is lost. Although Marianne Weber has never had an academic career, she has had a huge impact on spreading awareness of women’s rights. She was the president of the League of German Women's Associations, was the first woman to be elected to parliament in Germany, and was promoted to honorary doctor of the University of Heidelberg in 1924.
French philosopher, writer, and feminist Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986) in her most famous book, The Second Sex (2021, in French 1949), presented key ideas that would make her the bellwether of the second wave of feminism. In this book, the author presents the idea that "one is not born a woman, but becomes one", that is, that women grow up in a world that gives men an active role and restrains women, and forces them to accept a subordinate role. In this sense, the role of women is a social and cultural construct. Dominant culture defines a woman as "Other" - something that is different from the standard that is the men. Simone de Beauvoir advocated the rejection of imposed gender roles and a change in the way the sexes treat each other - overcoming the roles of domination and subordination. Roles that are imposed on the sexes always contain the aspect of acting and performance in themselves.
Religion also serves men to subdue women. Men control and shape religious beliefs, in order to use divine authority to justify their dominance. On the other hand, religion gives women compensation for their subordinate position. In modern society, religion serves as a means of deception, to make women believe that they are equal to men. Women were once portrayed in religion as closer to God, but for religions, their role as mothers is paramount. Women should be passive and thus closer to God. Religion also offers women a reward in the next life, for all the suffering they go through in this life. Religion is hostile to any attempt to emancipate women, while, on the other hand, women play a key role to play in maintaining religion, as they are mostly responsible for educating children in a religious spirit. de Beauvoir studied the position of women through themes of menstruation, frigidity, pregnancy, and menopause, but also through the ideals of beauty and the aging process. She also explored feelings of love and desire.
American sociologist Jesse Bernard (1903-1996) studied the impact of sexism on women's experience of marriage, parenthood, education, and economic activity. Bernard believed that women and men live in separate worlds, so the experience of marriage is completely different for the two sexes. The women's world, in the structural sense, represents the community - Gemeinschaft, while in the cultural sphere, it represents the ethos of love and/or commitment. The women's sphere is a sphere of solidarity and understanding, so women are left out of professions that require aggression and competition. Bernard conducted serious sociological studies of family, marriage, and divorce. She studied the positions of women, both in the family and marriage, as well as in public life. In The Future of Marriage (1972), she argues that men and women should reject their traditional gender roles (men earn, women do household chores, and care for children) and share those roles and jobs equally.
Austrian sociologist Viola Klein (1908-1973) published her doctoral thesis in 1946 under the title The Feminine Character: History of an Ideology. In this book, she uses the approach of sociology of knowledge to explore psychological, biological, anthropological, and sociological conceptions of “femininity”. Klein concluded that what makes the position of women similar to the position of other subordinate groups are socially constructed stereotypes of femininity. These stereotypes portray women as intellectually and emotionally inferior to men. These stereotypes are perpetuated by male theorists whose conceptions of women and femininity depend more on male-dominated culture than on empirical evidence. In her later work, Klein focused on the empirical study of women's work, both at formal work and in the household. Together with Alva Myrdal, she wrote the book Britain’s Married Women Workers (1956), in which the authors compare the position of women in the labor market, as well as in domestic work, in Sweden, Germany, France, and the United States. After Klein become the director of the UNESCO Department of Social Sciences in the early 1960s, she collected a large amount of empirical data on the position of women in the labor market from 21 countries and presented the results of the analysis in the book Women Workers (1965).
Russian-American sociologist Mirra Komarovsky (1905-1999) in the book Unemployed Man and His Family (1940) explored the impact that widespread unemployment in the United States, during the Great Depression, had on family relationships. The research was done on a sample of 59 unemployed skilled manual workers and their families. Unemployment had a negative effect on a man's personality, authority, and marital satisfaction. The relationship with adolescent children is most affected by unemployment, followed by the relationship with the wife. In the continuation of her scientific work, Komarovsky focused on the study of gender and gender relations. She wanted to determine the functional significance of gender roles, as well as the contradictions that arise from those roles. She focused on the difficulties in taking on and performing the gender role, as well as on the conflicts that gender roles cause. The main changes in gender roles that took place in the 1940s were an increase in the share of men that were doing household chores, as well as women's emancipation, primarily in the spheres of education and employment. Komarovsky studied how these new gender roles conflict with earlier views of gender roles. Taking over William Ogburn's theoretical approach to “cultural lag”, she argued that the conflict over gender roles is due to the different rates at which norms, attitudes, and institutional arrangements change in different environments and social groups. Komarovsky was the second woman to become president of the American Sociological Association.
Danish economist and gender theorist Ester Boserup (1910-1999) studied the Neolithic agricultural revolution in the book The Conditions of Agricultural Growth: The Economics of Agrarian Change Under Population Pressure (1965). In it, she developed the theory of agricultural intensification, also known as „Boserup's theory“, which states that population changes are what drives the intensification of agricultural production. Boserup concluded that increasing population density led to the transformation of the environment and the introduction of new technologies, especially in agriculture, by switching from a "slash and burn" type of agriculture to plow and irrigation-based agriculture. By analyzing different agricultural systems, she found that, although the gender division of economic roles exists in every society, those roles, as well as the social importance attached to them, are very different in different types of agriculture. Gender roles are always a product of culture, but in societies where women's work has more economic weight, men's and women's gender roles are less unequal.
American philosopher and gender theorist Judith Butler (1956-) is one of the most eminent theorists in the field of gender studies, feminism, and queer theory. Her work has intellectual roots, except in feminism, in the works of Sigmund Freud, Foucault, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Schütz, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, and Derrida. In Gender Trouble (1990), Butler argues that feminism, by embracing the concept of coherent gender identity, has influenced the strengthening of the binary gender order, although feminism has been very critical of that same binary gender order. The uncritical adoption of the norms of heterosexuality is the basis of the binary order and the dualism it produces. Sex is always gendered, and the reason for that is that every observation and interpretation of the human body takes place within a socially determined context and through gendered language.
After the birth of a baby, the sex is determined, and the gendered language shapes the gender patterns of that person. Butler believes that gender identity always grows out of performance. Performative repetition of the gender role is strictly regulated and limited by norms, and it produces a gender identity and creates the illusion of the existence of natural behavior inherent in gender. Butler believes that the construction of gender identity should be subverted and the social and imitative nature of gender itself should be revealed. This will lead to the "denaturalization" of the body and gender. She believes that within the LGBT context, gender is not necessarily derived from sex, desire, or sexuality. Gender identity performance and gendered language serve to reproduce heterosexuality.
American gender theorist Janet Chafetz (1942-) is famous for using Gerhard Lensky's macro-evolutionary approach to explain gender stratification. She argues that there are two types of forces that perpetuate gender inequality: coercive and voluntary. Coercive forces depend on the ability of men to control resources at the macro level, control gender relations at the micro level, secure elite positions, diminish the economic and cultural significance of women's work and create gender ideologies and norms. Voluntary forces follow coercive ones, because women, through socialization, adopt gender ideologies and stereotypes, and thus maintain the gender order. Gender stratification continues to function stably until change occurs. Changes can be caused by spontaneous demographic, technological, or political processes, or they can come as a result of organized efforts to change gender relations. Industrialization and urbanization were the most important processes for improving the position of women. The position of women also improves when male members of the elite realize that their survival depends on the recruitment of women into the elite. Her theory of gender stratification enables not only the understanding and prediction of gender relations but also shows how they can be influenced.
Australian sociologist Reawyn Connell (1944-) is best known for her contribution to the sociology of gender, which she presented in the books Gender and Power (1987), Masculinities (1995), and The Men and Boys (2001). She believes that approaches that explain gender roles through biologically innate predispositions are wrong. On the other hand, those approaches that emphasize the impact of socialization do not fully explain gender relations, identities, and roles. Individuals can reject, accept or change the social patterns that shape gender roles. Deviations from traditional gender roles may be overt and complete, and may contain minor deviations, but may also be disguised when the deviation occurs in secret or may occur only in the imagination. In her approach, Connell integrates the concepts of patriarchy, masculinity, and femininity into the general theory of gender relations. Masculinities and femininities are always present and interconnected, and together they form a key part of the gender order. There are different forms of masculinity and femininity, even in the same society, and they function at different levels, from the individual to the institutional. Both patterns serve to maintain male dominance over women.
Gender order and gender relations are the product of everyday interactions and practices that are reproduced over time but are also subject to change. Gender order almost always contains inequalities in three areas: work, power, and personal relationships (cathexis). These three areas are interconnected and changes in one area cause changes in the other two areas. The field of work refers to the gender division of labor in the household and at work. Unequal relations of power are expressed through the relations of authority, violence, ideology, institutions, state, etc. Inequality in personal relationships appears in marriage, sexuality, and the raising of children. Each gender order contains a large number of gender relationships.
The concept of “gender regime” refers to the structure of gender relations in specific institutions (family, state, neighborhood). Connell sees the gender order in a dynamic context because it is subject to change due to the actions of actors (human agency). In modern Western societies, there is a "gender crisis" that manifests itself on three levels. The first level is the crisis of institutions because there is a change in legal regulations concerning marriage, divorce, domestic violence, and economic relations. The second area is the crisis of sexuality because forced hegemonic heterosexuality ceases to function. The third area is the disintegration of traditional masculinities, especially through the emergence of the masculine pattern of a caring and dedicated father who cares for children and the home.
Connell also introduces the concept of "gender hierarchy" into her theory. This concept refers to a hierarchy of different forms of masculinity and femininity. At the top of the hierarchy is "hegemonic masculinity" which is associated with physical strength, firmness, and heterosexuality, but also with a well-paid job. This type of masculinity is achieved by a minority of men, but it benefits other men who exhibit "complicit masculinity" because they also enjoy the privileges of the patriarchal order. The lowest form of masculinity is homosexual masculinity. All femininities are below hegemonic masculinity. Emphasized femininity that reflects the classic image of a woman - beautiful, takes care of appearance, listens to men, raises children - is a complement to hegemonic masculinity. Femininities that deviate from the emphasized femininity - feminists, lesbians, prostitutes, manual workers - are isolated and silenced. This form of femininity she calls "resistant femininity."
Connell discusses the globalization of the gender order in her book Gender: in World Perspective (2009). She concludes that transnational corporations, international organizations, international media, and global markets of capital, goods, services, and labor, represent new areas of reproduction of the patriarchal gender order, but now on a global scale.
British sociologist Rosemary Crompton (1942-2011) primarily researched issues of class and gender. Crompton showed that inequalities caused by class and gender are related. In her research on the work of white-collar workers presented in the book White-Collar Proletariat: Deskilling and Gender in Clerical Work (1984), Crompton concluded that women working as white-collar workers had little chance of upward career mobility. In addition, research has shown that most white-collar workers have experienced a decline in expertise and that promotions to middle positions have often been more formal than actual career advancement.
In her book Gendered Jobs and Social Change (1990), Crompton uses the theoretical framework of Giddens' structuration theory to show that gender differences in the labor market must be explained in different ways, depending on the type and structure of a particular profession. Although gender differences persist in almost all professions, in some professions these differences are declining much faster than in others. The success of middle-class men depends on women's domestic work, as well as on the fact that women, on average, do worse jobs and progress in their careers more slowly. To understand economic inequalities, it is necessary to understand gender inequalities. During her fieldwork, Crompton noted that fewer and fewer young women are willing to accept traditional gender roles. Women are the bearers of social change and the transformation of class relations. She has studied class, household, and gender relations in several European countries. She placed more emphasis on data obtained by qualitative methods than the data provided by official statistics.
American sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild (1940-) in the book The Managed Heart (1983) observes how social structure, symbolic interaction, and ideology shape human emotions and their expression. She believes that there is an essential gender difference (strategy) between the expression of emotions in women and men. Public ideologies of emotions shape private emotional experiences. Class position and ethnicity also influence the shaping and expression of emotions. Emotions have a signal communicative function because they define the position of an individual within a situation, as well as social expectations related to a situation.
Hochschild views the expression of emotions as a human activity (emotion-management) that is culturally determined, to express the anticipated emotions in each situation, but also the right amount of emotions. It divides emotional activity into „emotional work“, which manifests itself in a private context, and „emotional labor“, which manifests itself in a public social context. Emotional labor is most pronounced in the formal workplace, where it represents an extension of the capitalist desire to regulate interpersonal relationships in the workplace, which is especially evident in service activities. She also studies how the market influences the transformation of private emotional life in love and kinship relationships and concludes that human relationships are being commercialized. Social movements that act anti-systemically refuse to express emotions following the dominant social code, so emotions themselves become part of the social struggle.
In The Second Shift (1989), Hochschild studied empirical data on domestic work and concluded that there was a "stalled revolution" - women began to work more outside the household, but men did not start working more in the household. This has led to the situation that women spend, in addition to working on a formal job, another working day a week doing household chores, which Hochschild called the "second shift". While women are increasingly subject to the "Taylorization" of domestic work, that is, performing routine and repetitive household chores, they are increasingly exposed to the intensification of work and job insecurity. She believes that the combination of emotional management and gender differences at work leads to special and new forms of alienation within the post-industrial economy.
British sociologist Ann Oakley (1944-) probably, was the first author to introduce the concept of "gender" into the social sciences with her book Sex, Gender, and Society (1972). In her opinion, a distinction should be made between biological sex (which in itself has no clear biological distinction) and culturally defined notions of "masculinity" and "femininity", which differ between cultures and change over time. Gender differences are key to understanding material inequalities, and values attributed to the sexes. Oakley began her study of gender differences with a doctoral dissertation on domestic work, and two books, Sociology of Domestic Work (1974a) and Housewife (1974b), emerged from this research. She concluded that housework, which is primarily performed by women, is physically and emotionally exhausting. She also quantified the time women spend working in the household. Oakley studied the relationship between medicine and women, especially in the context of childbirth and motherhood. Studying the relationship between doctors and female patients, through observations and interviews, she discovered the existence of an "innate" attitude of the medical profession towards pregnant women and young mothers.
In the article "Interviewing Women" (1981b), Oakley pointed out the differences between, what she called, the male and female ways of interviewing. The male approach to interviewing emphasizes objectivity and distance between the interviewer and the interviewee. There must be a hierarchy in the relationship itself because only the interviewer is allowed to ask questions. On the other hand, in female or feminist interviewing there should be a relationship of cooperation, understanding, and friendship. In this relationship, the interviewer enters into an intimate relationship with the interviewed woman, allows her to ask questions, and shares her own experiences. Thus, not only a higher degree of cooperation and less exploitation of the interviewee is achieved, but also better data are obtained, thanks to a more open approach to the subjective and personal experiences and attitudes of these persons. Oakley openly criticized the masculinity of sociology itself, because most sociologists were men, and most topics and the way they were treated were imbued with masculinity, while topics that did not correspond to that approach were pushed aside.
In the book Experiments in Knowing: Gender and Method in the Social Sciences (2000), Oakley advocates a methodological approach that emphasizes the development of sociological knowledge that calls into question established myths. Empirical research needs to be conducted that will reveal real-life situations of women, the results of which will have emancipatory potential. She believes that the false dilemma about the advantages of a qualitative or quantitative approach should be overcome, so her position is that both approaches should be used in empirical research and that meta-research and the experimental method should also be applied.
American sociologist Barbara Reskin (1946-) focuses her scientific research on gender and racial segregation in professions. In the book Job Queues, Gender Queues: Explaining Women’s Inroads into Male Occupations (1990), co-authored by Barbara Reskin and Patricia Roos, the authors conclude that since 1970, women have succeeded in entering some professions that, until then, were exclusively male. Based on research conducted for ten case studies of women from different professions, they came up with a "queuing theory" that refers to the gender composition of a profession. The queuing theory starts from the assumption that employers, in most professions, prefer to hire men. Workers of both gender, on the other hand, also make lists of the most desirable professions. The result of these two lists of preferences is that the best-ranked workers take the most desirable jobs. Only when there is a shortage of qualified men for a profession, than can women "get their turn" to enter that profession. Even when entering a profession, advancement in the hierarchy is still limited for women. Reskin and Ross also concluded that race and ethnicity, in addition to gender, also affect professional segregation and differences in wages.
In her book The Realities of Affirmative Action in Employment (1998), Reskin argues that anti-discrimination laws, affirmative action policies, and similar measures have not yielded the expected results in equating white men with white women or other races in employment. These measures have been successful only in resolving cases of overt discrimination, but most segregation takes place through covert discrimination. These measures have had a greater impact on equalizing employment opportunities when the employer is the state or local government than when it comes to private employers.
American sociologist Barbara Risman (1956-) is best known for her theoretical approach to gender, where she sees gender as an aspect of social structure. She takes Giddens' theory of structuration as a macro-theoretical framework for her theory. Risman emphasizes that according to the theory of structuration, there are causal feedback relations between individuals and structures - structures affect individuals, but individuals as conscious, reflective, and competent actors change the structure by their behavior. The theory of gender as a social structure adopts this view of social structure. The relationship between the structure, which operates through cultural patterns, on the one side, and the reflective causality of individual behavior, on the other side, should be observed at several levels of analysis, to understand the social structure of gender.
Risman singles out three main levels of analysis: 1) individual level of analysis (socialization and identities); 2) interactional level (cultural expectations, common sense attitudes); 3) institutional level (distribution of material values, forms of formal organization, ideological discourse). Gender structure provides different opportunities and constraints, in different ways, at each of these three levels. At the individual level, the gender structure influences the creation of gender selves; at the interactional level, the gender structure creates different cultural expectations for each gender, even when individuals of both genders are in the same structural positions; at the institutional level, the gender structure, through cultural patterns and legal regulations, creates a different, gender-specific, distribution of material and other resources.
At the individual level, socialization in childhood leads to the internalization of gender roles in members of both genders and thus leads to the creation of gender (innate) selves. At the interactional level, the gender structure creates different status expectations for men and women, women are expected to be filled with empathy and care, while men are expected to be more active and successful in society. Cognitive prejudices enable the reproduction of gender inequalities in everyday life. Social institutions and organizations reproduce gender inequalities at the institutional level. The most important are economic structures that create and maintain different expectations and opportunities for women and men in employment and other aspects of work (earnings, advancement, commitment). The different distribution of material resources between the two genders also maintains structural gender inequalities. Formal legal inequalities are becoming rarer, but even when official laws are formally gender neutral, institutions and organizations (courts, churches, companies) still have different attitudes towards men and women. And, finally, often the official ideology, long after the introduction of formal legal gender equality, retains androcentrism.
American sociologist Alice Rossi (1922-2009) is known as a gender theorist. In her essay "An Immodest Proposal" (1964), she expressed the view that there was no "antifeminism" in the society of the time, not because there was no sexism, but because there was no widespread feminist consciousness. She stated that for most women, motherhood has become a full-time job, which negatively affects not only women, but also the whole society, and that is the reason why women must start the fight for gender equality again. In her book The Feminist Papers (1973), Rossi took a very different view, arguing that the biological differences between men and women make women better suited to caring for children. It follows that gender equality should be achieved through social recognition of this biologically innate advantage for caring for children, and not by men taking on this role. Rossi later, in several books, explored how different aspects of life develop and change during a woman's life: work, family, sexuality, child-parent relationships, and community relationships.
American philosopher Sara Ruddick (1935-2011) studied maternal practices and believed that this practice produces a specific form of consciousness and way of thinking. She states that maternal consciousness can be a resource for feminist pacifism, as well as for shaping social relations at the local, national, and global levels. She rejects biological determinism in shaping gender differences and believes that men are capable of caring for children, as well as women. However, she believes that it is wrong to use the gender-neutral notion of parenthood. Pregnancy itself and the act of giving birth are shaped by "natal reflection" which is characterized by a specific understanding of oneself and other people. She believes that motherhood shapes the "ethical singularity of women”. In “Woman of Peace: A Feminist Construction” (1997), Ruddick opens a discussion on whether violence is sometimes necessary, or whether feminists must always advocate for peace. She sharply criticizes Western thought because it focuses on abstract thinking that is separate from any particularist, emotional, or bodily experience.
British-Canadian sociologist and gender theorist Dorothy Smith (1926-2022). After completing her undergraduate studies in Britain, went to study for her Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley, where she taught briefly after obtaining her doctorate. After that, she taught at the University of Essex for several years and then continued her career in Canada, where she taught at the universities of Vancouver and Toronto. Her theoretical positions, in works created in the early 1970s, were most influenced by symbolic interactionism, ethnomethodology, and the socialist critique of capitalism. In these works, she mostly deals with the relationship between psychiatry and women, and sociology as a discipline. She researched, with an ethnomethodological approach, how psychiatric institutions and experts create control over events and people and shape the individual experience of patients.
Studying the ways of acquiring knowledge about society, she concluded that, although official sociology is presented as a rational and objective science, sociology, at the same time, excludes the experience of women and thus provides a distorted picture of social relations. Sociological knowledge is gained from the positions and views of men and creates, as the author calls them, "relations of ruling", which are a set of organized practices and discourses of the state, companies, and professional and educational organizations, which permeate multiple locations of power. Sociology overlooked both the female experience of everyday life and the female position within the macro context of capitalist society.
Smith believes that patriarchy is a dominantly organized structure of modern capitalism that exists at both the institutional and discourse levels. Although there are multiple places of power, power is always concentrated in specific institutions and practices that maintain the capitalist social order. Discourse and text mediate power in a subtle and hidden way - the state retains power through tax refunds, social security forms, and the like. Smith sees sociology as an ideological project that marginalizes the concept of gender order to maintain the patriarchal nature of society.
She proposed an alternative, a sociology based on the positions and views of women (standpoint of women). This sociology takes into account the everyday life of women, but also the innate relations of ruling that are maintained through institutions and shape that everyday life. In the context of this view of sociology, Smith developed the concept of "institutional ethnography", which represents a methodological strategy for the sociological research of women. Although her theory shares some of the ideas of postmodernism, she criticizes the postmodernist rejection of the search for scientific truth.
British sociologist Sylvia Walby (1953-) received her Ph.D. from the Queen's University in Belfast and taught at several British universities, including the London School of Economics, and is currently teaching at the City University of London. Walby is, above all, known for her work on patriarchy, gender, and gender equality, as well as domestic violence. For her achievements in those fields in 2008, she was appointed as the first coordinator of the UNESCO Chair in Gender Research. Walby, in the book Patriarchy at Work (1986), explores the role of unions in maintaining patriarchy. In the engineering professions, men directly excluded women from the possibility of employment in those professions, while in the textile and clerical professions, male trade unions used a ranking system to limit women's advancement. She believes that unions are patriarchal institutions that limit women's ability to get good jobs or to find them, at all, which makes women financially dependent on men and forces them to take responsibility for household chores.
In her book Theorizing Patriarchy (1990b), Walby argues that patriarchy continues to be an excellent basis for explaining gender inequality. Her view of patriarchy is flexible, as she believes that patriarchy changes, over time, and that it acts differently among different classes or ethnic groups. Walby defines patriarchy "as a system of social structures and practices in which men dominate, oppress and exploit women" (Walby, 1990b). She believes that patriarchy represents the institutional coexistence of both the patriarchal and capitalist modes of production. Throughout history, these two systems go through periods of harmony, but also tension, which is influenced by different historical circumstances. Capitalism has great benefits from patriarchy because the latter creates a gender division of labor.
Walby singles out six structures that are independent but also connected to each other, and which maintain patriarchy.
1) Patriarchal way of production in the household - men appropriate the unpaid work of women that takes place in the home, and also, women bear most of the care of raising children. In the domestic sphere, the patriarchal mode of production is still dominant for the largest number of women. For women, leaving a marriage often means falling into poverty.
2) Paid work - gendered labor market relations serve to exclude women from specific occupations and careers, that is, they are destined for jobs with lower wages and jobs that require fewer skills and education. The patriarchal way of production and discrimination in the sphere of paid workforce women into marriage and isolated life in the household.
3) Patriarchal state - the state, through laws and practical policies, systematically works in the interest of patriarchy.
4) Male violence - this type of violence is not individual, but represents an established and systematic pattern of behavior and includes sexual crimes, physical violence, sexual harassment, and sexual abuse of children. The state has not done enough to prevent violence and rarely prosecutes perpetrators.
5) Patriarchal relationship in sexuality - is reflected in the double standards of acceptable sexual behavior for women and men, as well as in the insistence on "compulsory heterosexuality".
6) Patriarchal cultural institutions - media, religion, and educational system, portray women in ways that suit the patriarchal model, and this practice shapes women's identities and patterns of behavior. Pornography, as part of the culture, increases the freedom of men, while diminishing the freedom of women.
Walby distinguishes between private and public patriarchy. Private patriarchy refers to gender relations in the household and family and was most pronounced in earlier periods when women were forbidden to enter the public sphere. Public patriarchy refers to gender relations in the wider society. The state and the labor market are becoming the most important factors of oppression, exploitation, and the subordinate position of women. Although Walby recognizes that there has been a reduction in gender inequalities in Britain, she still believes that all structures and forms of patriarchy continue to exist and function and that women are isolated and subjugated in all areas of public life. She believes that of women from all ethnic groups in Britain, Muslim women are most likely to be oppressed by private patriarchy. In countries of market capitalism, the market plays the biggest role in public patriarchy. In welfare states, the state and the market are equally responsible, while in the former socialist states, the state and its institutions played the greatest role in public patriarchy.
Walby continued to study patriarchy, and in his book Sex Crime in the News (1991), she revealed how the media reported on the dangers of public places, and paid attention to the pathology of rapists, while completely avoiding reporting on marital rape and the patriarchal system that incites sexual violence against women. In the book Gender Transformations (1997), Walby noted some small positive developments but concludes that older women are still subject to domination within private patriarchy. In addition, post-Fordist changes in the economy have led to the emergence of a large number of poorly paid and insecure jobs, most often performed by women. Relatively speaking, women are very underrepresented in the most important positions, both in public jobs and private sector jobs. Since the 2000s Walby began studying feminism, gender inequality, and violence against women on the global level, in the context of globalization, and one of many works on that subject is Gendering the Knowledge Economy: Comparative Perspectives (2007).
Authors: Abbott, Edith; Adkins, Lisa; Allen, Sheila; Balch, Greene Emilly; Beauvoir, Simone de; Bernard, Jessie; Boserup, Ester; Breckinridge, Preston Sophonisba; Butler, Judith; Chafetz, Janet; Cockburn, Cynthia; Connell, W. Reawyn; Coolidge, E. Smith Mary; Crompton, Rosemary; Harding, Sandra; Haraway, Donna; Hochschild, Russell Arlie; Klein, Viola; Komarovsky, Mirra; Myrdal, Alva; Oakley, Ann; Reskin, Barbara; Risman, Barbara; Rossi, S. Alice; Ruddick, Sara; Smith, Dorothy; Spivak, C. Gayatri; Walby, Sylvia; Weber, Marianne. Bartky, Sandra Lee; Blumberg, Rea; Minnich, Elizabeth.
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