Category SOCIOLOGY

The autobiographical narratives

T

his appendix lists the locations of the 23 American ‘silverback’ narratives analysed in Chapter 7, and the 22 female narratives discussed throughout the book.

Scholar

Location of autobiography

Date published

George Homans

Annual Review of

1986

Sociology (ARS)

Robert Merton

ARS

1987

David Riesman

ARS

1988

Amos Hawley

ARS

1992

Lewis Coser

ARS

1993

Peter Blau

ARS

1995

Seymour M. Lipset

ARS

1996

William J. Wilson

Riley

1988

Hubert Blalock

Riley

1988

William Sewell

Riley

1988

Dennis Wrong

Berger

1990

James Coleman

Berger

1990

Joseph Gusfield

Berger

1990

Dean MacCannell

Berger

1990

Andrew Greeley

Berger

1990

Herbert Gans

Berger

1990

Gary Marx

Berger

1990

Donald Cressey

Berger

1990

John Gagnon

Berger

1990

Nathan Glazer

Berger

1990

Reinhard Bendix

Berger

1990

Bennett Berger

Berger

1990

Erving Goffman

Verhoeven

1992

Total 23

Table 1: Autobiographical narratives of male sociologists analysed

Scholar

Location of autobiography

Date published

Joan Acker

Laslett and Thorne

1997

Sarah Fenstermaker

L & T

1997

Evelyn N. Glenn

L & T

1997

Barbara Laslett

L & T

1997

Judith Stacey

L & T

1997

Barrie Thorne

L & T

1997

Arlene K. Daniels

Orlans and Wallace

1994

Arlie R. Hochschild

O & W

1994

Ruth Wallace

O & W

1994

Jackie Wiseman

O & W

1994

Suzanne Keller

Goetting and Fenstermaker

1995

Helen M. Hacker

G & F

1995

Lynda L. Holmstrom

G & F

1995

Judy Long

G & F

1995

Helen Z. Lopata

G & F

1995

Shulamit Reinharz

G & F

1995

Pamela A. Roby

G & F

1995

Coramae R. Mann

G & F

1995

Jessie Bernard

Berger

1990

Cynthia F. Epstein

Berger

1990

Alice S. Rossi

Berger

1990

Pepper Schwartz

Berger

1990

Total 22

Table 2: Autobiographical narratives of female sociologists analysed

Acritique of the orthodox. histories of sociology

T

he history of sociology, as taught a century after it began in differ­ent industrialising countries, prioritises various scholars, but they are all men. Not only the three giants, Marx, Weber and Durkheim, but the supporting cast, are routinely presented as all-male. So, for exam­ple, two British scholars, Giddens (1971) and Hawthorn (1976) wrote histories of sociology, before the feminist sociologies had become prominent, which are only about founding fathers. Burford Rhea’s (1981) American compilation The Future of the Sociological Classics covers Hobbes, Tonnies, Vico, Pareto, Simmel, Weber, Marx, Durkheim, Mead and Freud. Raymond Aron’s (1965, 1967) French books Main Currents in Sociological Thought cover Comte, Montesquieu, Marx, Tocqueville, Pareto, Weber and Durkheim. German histories of sociology are similarly structured. In the history of sociology as written in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, students are taught that the founders of the discipline are all men, overwhelmingly European men. They are Italian, French, German or Austrian, rather than British or American.

The maleness of the key scholars in the orthodox history of sociol­ogy is reinforced to novices by the sex of the authors who write about it. Giddens, Hawthorn, Rhea, and Aron are men. To offer a few exam­ples of works that figure on student reading lists we can scrutinise Bottomore and Nisbet (1978a), Lee and Newby (1983), Collins (1994a, 1994b) and the series of short volumes in Oxford University Press’s ‘Past Masters’ series, each of which introduce one key thinker. First, Bottomore and Nisbet (1978a), an edited collection called A History of Sociological Analysis, intended for advanced students in sociology, rather than complete novices. It has 17 chapters by 19 authors, only one by a woman (writing jointly with a man). Most of the chapters cover movements or schools of thought, such as ‘Structuralism’. These are written by experts on the leading historical figures in that tradition, and these leading historical figures are all men.

So all the scholars discussed in the chapters on positivism, functional­ism, and structuralism are men. Furthermore, the authors of those chapters do not comment on their decision to characterise those schools of thought as being all-male. A novice reader cannot know whether there were any women, or that there were not, in that ‘school’.

Подпись: 156The male editors have not, themselves, challenged the ‘founding fathers’ idea of sociology, because although there is room for 17 intel­lectual movements, feminism was not one of them. Having decided not to include feminism as a sociological movement or school, the editors did not ‘police’ their contributors to thread feminist ideas throughout the 17 chapters either. The subject index has one entry on gender, directing the reader to a section in the chapter on stratification. Feminism is not an entry. Sexism is not an entry. Women is not an entry. The chapters on, for example, criticisms of positivism and on function­alism fail to address feminist critiques of these theoretical positions, although by the mid-1970s there were plenty of such criticisms around which could have been cited. In 703 pages of text, four pages deal with feminist sociology. The chapter on ‘German Sociology in the time of Max Weber’ (a man) is written by Freund (a man), ignores Helene and Marianne Weber and fails to cite feminist critiques of Weberian sociol­ogy. Alan Dawe (1978: 362) does mention Marianne Weber, but only as her husband’s eulogist. The chapter by Wilbert Moore (1978) on functionalism is about Durkheim, Hobbes, Spencer, Parsons, Kingsley Davis, G. P. Murdock, Merton, Levy, Bales, Shils, and Smelser. Again, there are, apparently no women functionalists worth mentioning, nor are any feminist critiques of functionalism discussed. Bottomore and Nisbet (1978a) is a typical book on the history of the subject, designed for advanced students and collegial consultation, which showed no recognition of feminist ideas. Bottomore and Nisbet therefore uphold the founding fathers, malestream, history of sociology in four ways: (1) they recruit male authors; (2) they commission chapters on male schol­ars; (3) they omit to commission any chapter(s) on feminism or fem­inist sociologies; and (4) they do not require their contributors to include women sociologists in their chapters, or to address feminist critiques of the material they are presenting.

Similar exclusionary practices characterise the authors and editors of texts used for introductory courses. A high quality introductory text, Lee and Newby (1983) offered Tonnies, Marx, Weber, Durkheim and a group they called evolutionists (Locke, Comte, Spencer, Morgan, Darwin and Veblen). Feminism appears as a critique of the various theories, but there are no founding mothers. A novice would be left thinking that the subject was created by men between 1770 and 1970, since when a few ‘feminists’ have criticised some of the ideas.

Randall Collins (1994a, 1994b) catalogues four sociological tradi­tions in a textbook with an accompanying reader. He distinguishes a ‘conflict’ tradition (Marx and Weber) from a Durkheimian one, plus a rational utilitarian and a microinteractionist tradition. In the accompa­nying reader, the conflict tradition is epitomised by Marx, Engels, Weber, Dahrendorf, Lenski and Collins himself (all men). The Reactional/Utilitarian section contains papers by Homans, March and Simon, Schelling, Olson, and Coleman (all men).

The Microinteractionist tradition is illustrated by the work of Goffman, Meehan, Wood, Blumer, Mead, and Cooley (all men). In the Durkheimian portion of the book are contributions by Durkheim, Hubert, Mauss, Levi-Strauss, Goffman, Hagstrom (all men) and Mary Douglas. In Collins’s text (1994a) there are some discussions of women and of feminism, but they are not indexed, and a novice would not learn of the breadth and depth of female participation or feminist ideas in the discipline. Collins originally published his text in 1988, and while he has altered it for the 1994a version, it remains marooned in an all-male world.

Подпись: 157An alternative to the single text is the series of single volumes intro­ducing concepts or individual authors. The Oxford University Press series ‘Past Masters’, which had published 67 titles by 1991, included six sociologists (loosely defined) Engels, Hobbes, Locke, Marx, Mill and Vico, with one more to come (Durkheim). All these men were writ­ten about by men. There were no female ‘Past Masters’ of sociology, and no sociological women authors. Again a novice could not find out whether there were any founding mothers. The Fontana series, ‘Modern Masters’, edited by Frank Kermode, had reached 37 titles by 1980, covering figures in the arts and social sciences. All the ‘masters’ were men: no woman was considered a modern master. Three of the authors were women.

Subsequently Routledge had a series of short volumes called ‘Key Sociologists’. In 1987 it had 14 titles, 11 of which featured a single soci­ologist. Three covered a ‘school’: ‘Marx and Marxism’, ‘The Frankfurt School’ and ‘The Ethnomethodologists’. The 11 individuals featured were all men (Weber, Durkheim, Parsons, Freud, Mills, Simmel, Mannheim, Foucault, Goffman, Habermas and Merton). No woman was featured in the three books on ‘Schools’ either. For example, Sharrock and Anderson (1986) treat ethnomethodology as a largely male specialism, focusing on Cicourel, Sacks and Garfinkel. Gail Jefferson is the only woman important enough to be indexed. A few other women are cited, but not discussed as scholars (Candace West, Mary Rogers, Karin Knorr-Cetina). All the authors of all the books in the series up to 1986 were men. Subsequently Bourdieu was added to the series.

The 1980s saw a growth in feminist sociology which might lead one to expect that volumes equivalent to the Bottomore and Nisbet (1978a) produced in the 1980s and 1990s would show change. However, this is not the case. In 1987 Giddens and Turner edited a volume called Social Theory and Modern Sociology. It has 12 chapters, by 12 men. Feminism is not a social theory, although there is a whole chapter on ethnomethodology. The index gives one reference for ‘feminists’ which directs the reader to Miliband on class analysis and his brief discussion of feminist critiques of such analyses. There is no index entry for gen­der. Entries on ‘sexism’ and ‘women’ send the reader to the same three pages as ‘feminists’. So, in 403 pages, there are three on feminist soci­ology. The Giddens and Turner volume was part of a Polity Press series ‘Social and Political Theory’. By 1987 it had 36 other volumes pub­lished and 11 ‘forthcoming’. Among the 47 were six with a woman author, and Bob Connell’s Gender and Power. Three of the forthcom­ing books were to be by women. The Polity list included, in 1987, two of the most distinguished feminist sociologists in Britain (Sylvia Walby, Michele Barrett). Yet, Giddens and Turner did not include Feminism as a theory in their compilation.

Подпись: 158Anderson et al. (1987) edited Classic Disputes in Sociology. It has eight chapters by men, and the classic debates were about space, offi­cial statistics, laws and explanations, the individual and society, the Protestant work ethic, class, capitalism, and the transition from rural to urban society. The editors pointed out that Marx, Durkheim and Weber ‘loom large in nearly every chapter’ (ibid.: x). The index does not include feminism, sexism or women. There are index entries for ‘gender’ (five of them) but none of the single page citations leads to a sustained analysis of gender. So the ‘classic disputes’ as seen in 1987 in Britain are not touched by feminist sociology at all.

In 1988 Smelser edited an American Handbook of Sociology. There are 22 chapters by 33 authors, in four sections. Nine of the authors are women. The four sections focus on theory and method; inequalities; institutions and organisations; and change. Theory and method has all male authors, so does social process and change. In the theory and method section, Feminism is not discussed as a theory or a method. The index references to ‘Feminism’ and ‘Feminist theory’ send the reader to the empirical chapter on ‘Gender and sex roles’. There are 38 index entries for gender, which send the reader to the Gender chapter, or those on work or on medicine. None of the ‘gender’ entries refers to a theory or methods chapter. Sexism is not an index term. There are 12 index entries for women, all to empirical chapters on work, health, or the chapter on gender. Overall, therefore, although there are women authors in the handbook, the impact of feminism is ghettoised and absent from the high status sections.

These compilations from the late 1980s show feminist ideas still absent, or ghettoised. Feminist sociology had not been ‘mainstreamed’ at all. Individual British theorists show a similar pattern. Craib’s (1997) Classical Social Theory is only about men, and does not cover feminist ideas. In 1995 Barry Barnes published The Elements of Social Theory. Here he identified ‘those fundamental theories and ideas in social the­ory that currently possess the most plausibility’ (1995: vii). That is, these were the theories Barnes felt should be trusted, and used in future research. His chapters deal with Individualism, Functionalism, Interactionism and Knowledge in a section called Traditions; and then, in a section called ‘Social formations and social processes’, with status groups, social movements, social classes and administrative hierarchies. Feminism, gender, sexism and women are not indexed. There is no dis­cussion at all of any issue raised by feminist sociology in the previous 20 years. Mary Douglas is the only woman cited, and her ideas are not discussed.

Подпись: 159The same year John Scott produced his Sociological Theory (1995). Scott announces that ‘Theory is fundamental to the whole sociological enterprise’ (ibid.: xii). His book does not index feminism or sexism or women. There are index entries for ‘gender divisions’ and for ‘gendered character of theory’. The latter takes the reader to a half-page on Mary Wollstonecraft. There are no citations to Barbara Adam, Michele Barrett, Sylvia Walby, or Dorothy Smith. The discussion of the Chicago School of Sociology ignores Deegan (1988) whose feminist analysis of that tradition was the focus of Chapter 3. When Scott moves to more contemporary theories, the pattern continues. So his chapter on post­modernism ignores Butler, Flax and Lather. Scott’s chapter on struc­turalism ignores Mary Douglas who is probably the most widely used structuralist theorist in the Anglophone world. Her ideas spread much further outside anthropology that those of Edmund Leach (Delamont, 1989b). Bauman’s (2000) Liquid Modernity makes no mention of fem­inism, and has only six women in the bibliography.

Despite 30 years of feminist critiques of the orthodox history of the discipline, the recent accounts share with those written in the 1960s an adherence to a simplistic and uncritical all-male grand narrative.

appendix two

Prerogatives usurped?

conclusions

A

manda Cross’s (1981: 102) heroine, Kate Fansler, tells her friend Sylvia: ‘Men are always writing books about murdering women – it’s one of their favourite fantasies: revenge for having their prerogatives usurped: sexual prerogatives, political prerogatives, social prerogatives….’ In this book I have displayed some of the wide range of empiri­cal, methodological and theoretical materials that feminist sociolo­gists have produced in the past, and in the 30 years since the current, Third Wave, of feminism arose. I have criticised many male sociologists for their failure to read, and then to cite, that material. I have shown that the malestream has largely ignored a genderquake in sociology although a few men are very disturbed about it, and a larger minority of men are excited by it. The many topics where our knowledge is defi­cient have been mentioned, alongside the areas where feminist sociology has made a difference. Tributes to the ground-breaking work of giants, such as Dorothy Smith, have been paid. In this brief conclusion we return to Burminster, and to our heroines, Eowyn and Sophonisba.

In Chapter 2, Burminster in 2002 was presented as a university department much changed by feminist sociology. It was, of course, a very exaggerated vignette: no real department in Britain has seven pro­fessors, of whom three are women, nor does any insist that one-third of items on reading lists have female authors or that all students write about feminist or queer methods in one of their essays for a core course. As the book was being completed, departments of gender studies, and of sociology, were being merged and even closed. Feminist sociology in Britain may be cut down, or even cut out altogether in the twenty-first century: it is too soon to know.

To end the book on a reflexive and positive note, let us end the book with Eowyn and Sophonisba. It is 2003 – and it is a rainy night in Georgia. The American Sociological Association (ASA) is having its annual conference, accompanied by the Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP) and the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction
(SSSI). Eowyn and Sophonisba are in the Buckhead Diner. Sophonisba has come to the ASA because her book on Jane Addams is being launched, and most of its sales will be in the USA and because of the centenary celebrations for Marion McLean. She is not an ASA member and has never been to an ASA conference before. Eowyn is a regular at ASA, but has not been to Atlanta before. The Buckhead Diner is an upmarket restaurant: furnished like a classic American diner it serves modern eclectic food. Both women have given their papers, and are cel­ebrating that the hardest part of the meeting is over:

Eowyn: Atlanta is just like it is in a Kathy Trocheck detective story:

everything really is called Peachtree Boulevard, or Crescent, or Avenue: but it is far too hot and too humid for me. I will be glad to get back to Glasgow. Sophonisba: Which is Kathy Trocheck? – the series with the woman who runs a house-cleaning service?

Eowyn: Yes – I will lend you the one I found today when I have read

it – her heroine, Callahan Garrity, is fun. I’ve enjoyed ASA but I’m ready to get home.

Подпись: 154Sophonisba: Me too – did you get into the publishers’ exhibits today? Eowyn: Yes: awesome. And I’ll never get used to the armed guards on

the door or the Encyclopaedia Britannica having a stall. There’s a useful looking series we should buy for the Library: The Gender Lens series from AltaMira. And did you see all those Chicago University Press titles? Sophonisba: Is Sara Delamont’s book out? Is it there?

Eowyn: Yes – though no one in America is going to take any notice

of a British book, are they? It could be what we need – I asked for an inspection copy before we left home.

Sophonisba: Let’s hope we both like it. Oh here’s our salads.

I, as the real author, hope you, the reader, like it. To be optimistic, and end with an even more positive note, let us conclude with words from Pierre Bourdieu and Ulrich Beck. These two giants of sociology offer uplift. Bourdieu argues that: ‘masculine domination no longer imposes itself with the transparency of something taken for granted. Thanks, in particular, to the immense critical effort of the feminist movement… it now appears as something to be avoided, excused or justified’ (2001: 88).

Similarly radical in its recognition of the genderquake, we should end this chapter and the book with a comment on gender equality from Ulrich Beck, which addresses both my central themes: ‘A society in which men and women were really equal… would without doubt be a new modernity’ (1994: 27).

appendix one

FICTION(S)

Подпись: 149One movement which has frequently been embraced by sociologists who are sympathetic to postmodernism, and has been conflated with postmodernism by its opponents, is the playfulness, especially in the presentation of ‘results’. For obvious reasons postmodern sociologists never use quantitative methods: their philosophical stance demands qualitative ones. Many enthusiasts for postmodernism are also keen on textual innovation. It is possible – even likely – that postmodern work will be written in an innovative and stylistically self-conscious way. The postmodern work is likely to be couched in terms of an open, ‘messy’ text, rather than a monograph or paper that conforms to all the con­ventions of scholarly factual writing. This text may well incorporate a mixture of different literary styles and genres. It may, for instance, include highly impressionistic, introspective and autobiographical pas­sages of prose which are transgressive of the normal canons of aca­demic discourse. Feminist sociologists and anthropologists have been particularly keen on challenging and transgressing the orthodoxies of academic writing. They have been delighted that personal, autobio­graphical and emotional texts are publishable in 2002, in ways unthinkable in 1962, or even 1982.

Since the Enlightenment, rhetoric – once a respected and canonical discipline – had been relegated to the margins of intellectual life. With the rise of modern science, rhetoric became a marginalised, even despised activity. It contrasted with the rational and factual status ascribed to science, having connotations of sophistry and persuasion. In recent years, however, there has been a growing movement to rehabili­tate rhetoric, not least in the recognition that the ‘sciences’ and other factual enterprises are themselves inescapably rhetorical in character. The natural sciences, economics, history, among many other domains, have been shown to deploy their own rhetorical conventions – not least in their characteristic literary conventions. Such analyses have the con­sequence of demystifying those conventions. For instance, they can
show how scholars convey their own authoritative status; how they persuade their readers through the use of metaphors and other figures of speech; how they use examples and other illustrative materials to build plausible arguments.

One of the consequences of the literary and rhetorical turn is an enhanced awareness of the social processes involved in analysis. In the collection edited by Sanjek (1990), anthropologists reflected upon field – notes – how they are constructed, used and managed. We come to understand that fieldnotes are not a closed, completed, final text: rather, they are indeterminate, subject to reading, rereading, coding, recording, interpreting, reinterpreting. The literary turn has encouraged (or insisted) on the revisiting, or reopening, of ethnographer’s accounts and analyses of their fieldwork. Wolf (1992), for example, revisited her fieldnotes, her journal, and a short story she had written while she was doing fieldwork in a Taiwanese village.

Подпись: 150Different kinds of prose may be interspersed with poetry, resulting in a more promiscuous mix of styles and genres. Such experimental writing will serve a number of purposes. It subverts the smooth surface of the text in order to disrupt the monologic style in which the ethno – grapher/observer occupies the sole vantage-point, and from whose standpoint the entire account is provided. The kaleidoscopic presenta­tion of different textual styles and fragments thus allows the writer and the reader to shift from one perspective to another. Couched in such innovative ways, the ethnographer may well be seeking to ‘evoke’ a social setting and social action. The writing may, therefore, be impres­sionistic in character. Moreover, the evocative text is evaluated in terms of its connotative or affective quality as much as, or more than, its denotative precision.

Moreover, there will be a multiplicity of ‘voices’. The ethnographic text under the auspices of postmodernism aspires to be a polyvocal one. That is, in addition to the voice of the ethnographer/author, there will be the voices of social actors. Their experiences will not always, per­haps never, be filtered through the interpretative framework of the author. Rather, the text will reproduce the actors’ own perspectives and experiences. This may include extended biographical and autobio­graphical accounts, extended dialogues between the researcher and informants, and other ‘documents of life’. Typically, there is an empha­sis on the kinds of narratives or stories through which social actors con­struct their own and others’ experiences.

The ethnographer will be visible or audibly present in the text. Her or his own feelings, actions and reactions will be inscribed in the text. The mechanics of the research as well as its emotional content will be integral to its reportage. The postmodern text will be imbued with the work of research, which will not therefore be relegated or marginalised
to a methodological appendix or an autobiographical confessional entirely divorced from the ‘real’ work of analysis and reportage. Indeed, some postmodern ethnographic texts may have the air of a ‘confessional’ throughout. The presence of the researcher reflects the principle of reflexivity. Reflexivity has a range of meanings in this con­text, but its most general sense, it captures the extent to which the researcher is inescapably a part of the social world that she or he is investigating. The researcher cannot wish away her or his presence or the fact that the social world under investigation is, in principle, being negotiated or co-produced with its members through the transactions of research. The reflexive ethnography is thus permeated with the pres­ence and work of the ethnographer. Moreover, the postmodern ethno­grapher exhibits multiple identities, refracted through the variety of social relationships and transactions that constitute ‘the field’ of explo­ration. There are, therefore, multiple selves or identities associated with the ethnographer under the rubric of postmodernism, just as social actors in general are portrayed as fragmentary and fractile. The researcher may indeed become so much a part of the enterprise that she or he becomes not merely an observer or an interrogator, but the sub­ject-matter of the research itself. The term ‘auto-ethnography’ is cur­rently used to connote a wider range of issues than this alone, but among the practitioners of auto-ethnography are those who use intro­spection, memory, autobiography and other constructions of ‘self’ as the subject-matter of their own research. The genres of research text here blur with those of biographical work.

Подпись: 151voice and polyvocality

The representational practices and devices alluded to relate closely to the analytic strategy of evoking multiple ‘voices’ in the reconstruction of social realities. If research dissolves the privilege of the observer/author, then it also implies that there should be multiple voices identifiable in the analysis. This goes well beyond the perfectly ordinary practice of quoting informants or including extracts from fieldnotes in order to illustrate ethnographic texts. The polyvocal text – and hence the analytic strategy that underlies it – does not subordinate the voices and press them into the service of a single narrative. Rather, there are multiple and shifting narratives. The point of view of the ‘analysis’ is a shifting one. There is no single implied narrator occupying a privileged interpretative position. A relatively early example of such a text is Krieger’s (1983) account of a lesbian community. Krieger, as author/analyst, constructs a collage or palimpsest of narratives, juxta­posed in the style of stream-of-consciousness literary work. Her analy­sis of the community is implicit in those textual arrangements, which are

not superseded or supplemented by a dominant authorial commentary. The expression of voices has become a major preoccupation of many qualitative researchers in recent years, and to some extent, the force of polyvocality has become blunted: in some contexts it can seem to mean little more than ‘letting the informants speak for themselves’, with lit­tle or no theoretical sophistication. On the other hand, it can give rise to complex and dense representations (see Atkinson, 1999, for a review of different kinds of recent contribution). Equally, the celebration of voices can allow the author to find her or his ‘voice’ in a way that dif­fers from the canons of conventional academic writing: it provides per­mission for first-person narratives that insert the author in her or his texts, rather than suppressing the personal in the analytic.

autoethnography

Подпись: 152Reflexivity and first-person narratives lead directly to the possibilities of autoethnography. The term itself has several connotations. Here we will focus briefly on analyses that are based substantially or even exclusively on the writer’s personal experiences, memories and actions. This, there­fore, moves the personal from the marginal notes of the confessional tale to occupy the central place of sociological or anthropological analysis. Autoethnography and autobiography can be virtually indistinguishable. The resulting accounts can be highly charged emotionally for the author and reader alike. Tillmann-Healy (1996), for instance, has written a highly personalised account of her own experience of bulimia, while in the same anthology Ronai (1996) writes a moving account of her ‘men­tally retarded’ mother. Latta (1999) did her PhD on the narratives of five women writers who, like her, had writer’s block. She reflects on how postmodern theory paralysed and silenced her, on how her father explained Marxism to her and the members of his trade union, and why she chose her thesis topic. Reed-Danahay’s (1997) collection, and her overview (2001) showcase these developments.

Because of the feminist mantra ‘the personal is political’, autoethnog­raphy fits very well into feminist sociology, whether or not its inscribers enjoy playing with postmodernism.

CONCLUSION

The freedom provided by postmodernism to write in innovative ways, and the vogue for polyvocality are probably the most important aspects of post­modernism for sociology as a whole, and therefore for feminist sociology. If the disputes over postmodernist feminism can be resolved, the long-term legacy of textual freedom will be liberating for all of feminist sociology.

nine

Scientists against pomo

The scientific opponents of postmodernism are considered first. This campaign, called ‘The science wars’ was based on a conflation of, or a serious confusion between: (1) non-positivist social science perspectives such as constructivism and ethnomethodology; (2) postmodernism; (3) feminism (used as an undifferentiated term of abuse); and (4) anti­racism. The self-styled defenders of science know so little about human­ities and social science that they do not, and indeed, cannot, distinguish between them. For feminists hostile to postmodernism, the ways in which ‘defenders’ of science treat the two perspectives as coterminous is maddening in its inaccuracy. The ‘defenders’ of science including Gross and Levitt (1994), Sokal and Bricmont (1997) and Koertge

(1998) are all naive believers in a pre-Kuhnian view of science. Collins

(1999) Подпись: 142, Callon (1999) and Mackenzie (1999) are well-balanced accounts of the campaign by a few scientists against social scientists’ accounts of science and against postmodernism as an ideology. The sci­ence warriors, as Collins (1999) calls them, are usually just as angry about the feminist literature on science, which they also label ‘post­modern’. As well as pouring abuse over Collins, Pinch and Latour, they attack Keller (1983, 1985), Harding (1986, 1987, 2000), Schiebinger (1989, 1993, 1999) and other feminists. Many of these women have queried the ‘objectivity’ of much science and scientific practice, but none of them is a postmodernist. The men from Science Technology and Innovation Studies (STIS) have defended their practice and episte­mology (see special issues of Social Studies of Science, 1996 and 1999) but they have not argued with the science warriors to defend the valid­ity of the feminist critiques of science.

Sullivan (1999) is a physicist who contributed to Koertge (1998), and who is prepared to engage in careful, scholarly, reasoned debate with an historian of science, Mackenzie (1999). Sullivan summarises the belief system of the science warriors as follows:

Imbued with a congeries of ideas known as postmodernism, certain scholars in the humanities and social sciences question the epistemolog­ical assumptions of physical and biological scientists. In particular, the main thrust of postmodernist criticism seems to be the denial of the pos­sibility of objective knowledge, so that social factors do not just influ­ence scientific progress: it is claimed that they enter the content of scientific knowledge. (1999: 215)

This matters because these ideas are influencing public opinion about science and even worse, they have got into schools: ‘Implementing a postmodernist doctrine known as constructivism’ (ibid.: 215) ‘special­ists’ have destroyed high school science. Gross and Levitt (1994) linked postmodernism to left-wing political views, to feminism, to African
studies and to gay and lesbian studies, arguing that American higher education had been taken over by dangerous subversive groups. The contributors to Koertge (1998) are most worried about ‘postmod­ernism’. The two groups have in common a firm belief that science is objective. There are two problems with the science warriors’ position. First, most of the people they label postmodernists are not: they do not use the ideas of postmodernism at all. Second, as Callon (1999) shows, the science warriors have not actually read the work of any of the post­modernists. Callon summarises the science warriors’ argument as: ‘are you willing to encourage these postmodernists and cognitive realists who corrupt our youth and bring decay to our civilisation?’ (ibid.: 262).

Подпись: 143Overall, then, none of the science warriors have actually read and understood any of the postmodernists. They have reacted violently to some postmodernists’ use of some ideas from the natural sciences as metaphors (failed to recognise that they are metaphors), lumped those postmodernists in with the scholars of STIS, and created a panic. In many ways, the science wars are irrelevant to this book. I have dwelt on them for three reasons: first, STIS is an area that fas­cinates me not only for its own ideas but because it is so stubbornly impervious to feminism; second, because the sweeping together of everything disliked under a label of ‘pomo’ is equivalent to sweeping together everything under a label of ‘feminism’; and third, because the science warriors’ attacks on pomo received such massive press coverage (articles in the quality press, major reviews in the New York Review of Books, Times Literary Supplement, etc.) whereas the fem­inist attacks on pomo received no coverage at all in the general media.

This manic ‘defence’ of objectivity in science is only relevant to this book insofar as the confusion of postmodernism and feminism means that there has been a climate resistant to arguments from activists who wish to attract more women to science (Whyte, 1985), retain them in science (e. g. Glover, 2000; Rees, 2001), change the focus of scientific research (Lederman and Bartsch, 2001; Wyer et al., 2001), and even develop ‘women-friendly’ science (e. g. Mayberry et al., 2001). Indeed, as Donna Haraway (1988) pointed out, if women adopted a postmodern position, and believed that science was only rhetoric it absolved them from any need to grasp post-Newtonian physics. Adopting the strongest possible social constructivist position about science allowed women to slump back from mistressing ‘hard’ scientific ideas, rationalising: ‘They’re just texts anyway, so let the boys have them back’ (1988: 597).

feminists against pomo

Lyon (1999: 80) argues that: ‘Feminists frequently hesitate before the brink of full postmodernism.’ Sceptical and hesitant feminists have not been slow to point out that the leading exponents of postmodernism were men. Many of the scholars who have argued that postmodernism renders extant research outdated, outmoded and passe are middle – class, white men in secure jobs in industrialised countries. Thus Fox – Genovese has commented: ‘Surely it is no coincidence that the Western white male elite proclaimed the death of the subject at precisely the moment at which it might have had to share that status with the women and peoples of other races and classes who were beginning to challenge its supremacy’ (1986: 134).

Подпись: 144Fox-Genovese is an African-American woman. She has pointed out that the origins of postmodernism lie in Paris after 1945 among white men (Levi-Strauss, Lacan, Foucault, Derrida, Lyotard) who are or were misogynist, sexist, and, in Foucault’s case, gay. A similar point is made by Somer Brodribb (1992: 7-8) when she states ‘postmod­ernism is the cultural capital of late patriarchy.’ For those feminists hostile to postmodernism, its intellectual origins are inherently anti­women: ‘postmodern theory’s misogynist and very specific historical origins among post World War II Parisian Intellectuals – from Levi – Strauss and Lacan to Foucault and Derrida – require excessive intellec­tual modification and machinations to include women’ (Hoff, 1994: 151).

The debate about whether women can be flaneurs, or have to be flaneuses, if there can be such people, is particularly relevant here. Elizabeth Wilson (2001) explains the idea of the flaneur as follows. The flaneur arrived as an archetype with the urban revolution of the late eighteenth century. He was a creature of Paris in the opening decade of the 1800s: a symbol of a modern city. The flaneur walked, loitered, lurked and observed the city: its people, its buildings, its spectacle. He has no occupation, unless he is an artist gathering material for a novel, an epic or a painting. The urban lower classes are an object of amuse­ment, cafes and restaurants allow time to spend pleasurably, window shopping is a regular pastime, while gossip, fashion and developments in the arts are a diversion. Wilson summarises the ideas of Walter Benjamin, and Siegfried Kracauer, who developed sociological analyses of the idea. The flaneur is an onlooker, a watcher, an observer, and par­ticularly a male whose gaze both objectifies women and embodies modernity. Joseph Mitchell’s (1993) story of Joe Gould and his (myth­ical) Oral History of New York can be seen as the story of a flaneur: Gould wandered New York for 35 years claiming that he was writing a modern equivalent of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall. As Wilson points
out, during the 1980s as sociological interest in consumption and in the postmodern city with its culture and tourism economics of signs and space (Lash and Urry, 1994) grew, so too did interest in the flaneur. Tester’s (1994a) edited collection marked the arrival of the concept in British sociology.

After Tester’s collection appeared, the idea of the flaneur became embroiled in a debate about whether there could be such men in the Bluewater Mall or at Euro Disney. Could there be flaneurs not in cities but in postmodern consumer centres? Such debates are not relevant to this book. However, alongside that discussion, Janet Wolff (1985, 1990, 1994) a sociologist of art and culture had argued that although there was, in theory, a flaneuse (that is, the word had, in the nineteenth – century Larousse Encyclopaedia, a feminine form), in fact, only men could actually behave as flaneurs. There was no way that women could use the city in the ways that men could. A woman strolling in the Paris of 1807 was liable to be branded a harlot, not a fine fellow or an artist gathering material. Wolff illustrated her claims with case studies of women painters, contrasted with males from the same artistic move­ment. Tester himself avoided the issue: ‘The question of the gender specificity of flanerie is very much an area for debate’ (1994b: 19).

Подпись: 145Elizabeth Wilson (2001) stresses that the essential quality of the flaneur is that he takes possession of the city by his gaze: he is the embodied male gaze. The male flaneur observes women, and exercises a seigniorial gaze upon them. This gaze is theoretically similar to the petrification of the Medusa’s head, in Lacan’s work, which fixes women permanently ‘in the stasis of otherness’ (Wilson, 2001: 82). If one accepts this link between Benjamin’s flaneur and Lacan’s Medusa head, then the concept of the flaneur is ‘just’ another sexy sociological idea that turns out to be a male-only idea; a theory that is really a male game, another concept which sounds analytically powerful but actually excludes women. The debate between Wolff and Wilson reveals the problems attendant on trying to harness postmodern ideas such as the Medusa gaze to feminist ends.

It is debates such as this – and, as Wilson (2001: 83) comments ‘Debates among feminists seem often to begin as differences of empha­sis and end as polarised antagonisms’ – which have divided feminist sociologists over postmodernism. There are intellectual doubts and the feeling that postmodernism undermines the potential for radical social change. Gordon summarises the tension: ‘we find an irreconcilable dif­ference between feminism’s commitment to mass, systematic social change for women, and those strains of postmodernism that find all modern “revolutions” suspect’ (1993: 109).

Among the women anxious that postmodernism will destroy femi­nism and mounting a vigorous attack upon it is Brodribb (1992) who
reaches rhetorical heights which leave the majority of us gasping. Her opponents – those feminists who wish to become postmodernists, or adapt postmodernism to their own ends – are called ‘ragpickers in the bins of male ideas’ (1992: xxiii). The violence of the debate, and hence the anxieties underlying it, can be seen in a highly-charged debate in Women’s History Review (vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 19-24) between Hoff (1994, 1996), Kent (1996) and Ramazanoglu (1996). Mascia-Lees et al. (1989) argued that in Anthropology postmodernism was predominantly about men appropriating insights from feminism (and Marxism) to cre­ate a ‘prestige discourse’ for their own career advancement. Marjorie Wolf (1992) makes similar claims. Singleton (1996) discusses the uneasy relationship between feminism and postmodernism in the soci­ology of science.

Felski offers a neat summary of the two opposed positions on the coming of postmodernism:

For some it is a narrative of progress, as feminism sheds its essentialisms and universalisms to achieve a more sophisticated stage of theoretical consciousness. For others it is a narrative of the fall, as feminism is lured from its true goals by internecine squabbles and the spurious prestige of French avant-garde thought. (2000: 71)

Подпись: 146Dorothy Smith (1999: 97-8) has two main objections to postmod­ernism. She argues that, first, postmodernism has imported the ‘univer – salised subject of knowledge’ while it repudiates it: ‘The unitary subject of modernity is rejected only to be multiplied as subjects constituted in diverse and fragmented discourses’ (ibid.: 98). Second, by prioritising language/discourse, postmodernism drives a wedge between the specific local practices of people’s everynight/everyday lives and the lan – guage/discourse which the postmodernist studies. For Smith, this imprisons the sociologist in ‘a phenomenal world in which nothing ever happens’ (ibid.: 98) and prevents her from studying the world ‘in which people are active’ (ibid.: 98). Smith goes on to argue that the post­modernist feminist position is antithetical to sociology: it denies the ‘possibility of discovery’ (ibid.: 109).

Many of the contributors to the collection edited by Bell and Klein (1996), defending radical feminism, argued that the biggest danger is from postmodernism. The editors include a ‘po-mo quiz’ ridiculing postmodernism (Bell and Klein, 1996: 558-61). A section of their vol­ume is devoted to criticisms of postmodernism, including a reprint of Joan Hoff (1994), Barbara Christian’s (1996) ‘The race for theory’, and Christine Delphy’s (1996) ‘French feminism: an imperialist invention’. The editors summarise their position on postmodernism as follows. ‘The post-modern turn is apolitical, ahistorical, irresponsible, and self­contradictory; it takes the “heat off patriarchy”’ (Bell and Klein, 1996:
xix). Overall, therefore, feminists have been deeply divided in their responses to postmodernism. Lined up against Brodribb, Smith and Delphy are some very distinguished feminists, to whom we now turn.

feminists for pomo

Подпись: 147As Flax points out, much feminist scholarship has been ‘critical of the contents’ of the Enlightenment dream, yet simultaneously ‘unable to abandon them’ (1993: 447). For Flax, postmodernism is particularly threatening for feminism because ‘Three of the discourses feminists have attempted to adapt to our own purposes, liberal political theory, Marxism, and empirical social science, express some form of this Enlightenment dream’ (1993: 448). For Flax this is not a proper femi­nist response. Because the Enlightenment was a male cosmology femi­nists must abandon it, to create their own. Flax is confident that the insights of postmodernism will set women free from a childlike state in which we wait for ‘higher authorities’ to rescue us, clinging to a naive myth of ‘sisterhood’. Similarly, Patti Lather argues: ‘The essence of the postmodern argument is that the dualisms which continue to dominate Western thought are inadequate for understanding a world of multiple causes and effects interacting in complex and non-linear ways, all of which are rooted in a limitless array of historical and cultural specifici­ties’ (1991: 21). Since 1991 she has developed her postmodernist femi­nism in, for example, Lather (2001). Jane Flax (1990, 1993) argues that: ‘Postmodern philosophers seek to throw into radical doubt beliefs … derived from the Enlightenment’ (1990: 41). She lists among the beliefs thrown into doubt: the existence of a stable self, reason, an objective foundation for knowledge, and universalism. As she forcefully expresses this: ‘The meanings – or even existence – of concepts essential to all forms of Enlightenment metanarrative (reason, history, science, self, knowledge, power, gender, and the inherent superiority of Western cul­ture) have been subjected to increasingly corrosive attacks’ (1993: 450).

Judith Butler (1990, 1999) is one of the best-known exponents of postmodern feminism or feminist postmodernism. Butler (1990, 1999) published Gender Trouble, an influential book both in establishing queer theory and in disseminating the ideas of poststructuralism (a. k.a. postmodernism) among American feminist writers. Butler originally wrote Gender Trouble to challenge the anti-lesbian biases she saw in the assumptions in feminism that all women were heterosexual. She drew on French poststructuralism and applied it to American theories of gen­der and the ‘political predicaments of feminism’ (1999: ix). She wanted to carry out a ‘feminist reformulation’ (ibid.: ix) of postmodernism, instead she found herself celebrated as an advocate of postmodernism. By 1999 when her second edition appeared, the book had been trans­
lated into several languages (but not French), and postmodernism had transmuted and spread into many fields. Butler is not, of course, a soci­ologist, but a scholar in humanities: in the sphere of postmodernism, however, the distinctions between sociology, cultural studies, and the humanities are not hard and fast.

Maggie Maclure (2000), an educational researcher, is certain that feminists must swim in the postmodern tide:

Feminism cannnot afford to keep its distance [from pomo]. It is all the more urgent that feminists engage in deconstructive play, in order to defend women’s writing, and the specificity of women’s voices, from erasure. But the status, and the possibility of such play with always be problematic in a discursive space where play is always already defined as the pastime of male theoretical cross-dressers. (ibid.: 63)

Подпись: 148Sandra Harding (2000) is perhaps the most famous feminist to adopt a postmodern position, arguing that it has the most intellectual power of any feminist perspective yet devised. None of the feminist postmod­ernists in social science have adopted the philosophy naively or uncrit­ically because they recognise that feminist modernism sets out a tough agenda. Linda Nicholson (1999: 113) describes the task as follows: ‘How can we combine a postmodernist incredulity towards meta­narratives with the social-critical power of feminism?’

My own position on postmodernism is ambivalent. I am totally opposed to adopting French theory merely because it is exotic, fash­ionable, and mystifying. I am equally opposed to rejecting French the­ories merely because they are exotic, fashionable and mystifying. It is not clear why some of the theorists have been seized on and valorised (especially Foucault in sociology), while others are left in French obscu­rity. For feminists, I see no alternative but to engage with postmod­ernism and its implications. Ignoring it, or feigning incomprehension, will leave feminism dying, like a beached whale. Active engagement with the postmodernists is essential.

The arguments of Fox-Genovese about white men discovering the death of the subject just as they were being forced to share the prestige of being the subject with women, non-whites, and other former ‘out­casts’ are clearly correct. The parallels with the vogue for Freud in the early part of the twentieth century are striking. The intelligentsia after the First World War were enthusiastic about Freudian ideas: they were progressive for thinking about shell shock; they were complex and demanding; they came from Vienna, a city with a great intellectual pedigree; they were new; they were a paradigm shift; and because of their concern with sexuality, they shocked older people and conserva­tives rigid. They were, therefore, perfect for a post-war generation. Conveniently for intellectual men, and for some women ‘too young’ for

First Wave feminism who felt out of tune with its Puritanism and purity crusading (see Delamont, 1989a and 1992a), Freudianism provided a ‘modern’ reason for rejecting First Wave feminism and all its works. Vicinus (1985) explores this in some detail.

In the final section of this chapter I want to explore the main con­sequence of postmodernism for the majority of sociologists and anthro­pologists: the consequences for what ‘counts’ as academic writing. Amanda Cross’s (1981: 148) heroine Kate Fransler spoke of the new forms possible to women in making fictions of female destiny.

RESPONSES TO POSTMODERNISM

Among scholars, there have been particularly angry responses to postmodernism among two groups: feminists and scientists. These two groups have different problems with postmodernism, which need attention here. There are feminists, including feminist sociologists, who have embraced postmodernism with alacrity and even abandon­ment. These postmodernist feminists are the focus of the third section of the chapter, after a discussion of the two hostile groups.

POSTMODERNISM

Подпись: 137At its simplest, postmodernism is a challenge to the consensus held among the educated classes in the Western capitalist nations, since the Enlightenment at the end of the eighteenth century, that universal, objective scientific truths can be reached by scientific methods. In this section I establish what modernity and postmodernity are, what post­modernism as a social theory is, and briefly explore two sources of resistance to its current intellectual pre-eminence. The two sources of resistance, from sections of feminism and self-appointed defenders of science, are discussed because their positions are relevant to debates on feminist sociology. Empirical research on gender and on science will also be used to illustrate some of the controversies. Postmodernism in sociology has two distinct meanings (there are other meanings in archi­tecture and literary criticism which are not dealt with at all here). Postmodernism is both a term used to describe the era in which we live, and a theoretical perspective. The latter is the main focus of the chap­ter, but many sociologists are busy writing about the former. The argu­ment that Britain, the USA, and the rich nations of western Europe have moved on from being modern nations to being late modern or postmodern runs as follows. Expressed simply, those who believe in postmodernism argue that with the agrarian and industrial revolutions, and the shift from societies of peasant farmers to societies of urban fac­tory workers, western Europe entered an era of modernism. People’s identities (or men’s identities at least) were grounded in their social class, which meant identities were rooted in their role as producers. The rise of science, and the belief in objective scholarship, were inextricably linked to that modernism.

For these theorists, the past 50 years have seen the globalisation of production and the de-industrialisation of Western Europe, and thus an era of post-industrialisation. When people (or men) no longer draw their deepest sense of identity from jobs in production and thus their social class, an era of postmodernism dawns. In this era, identities are multiple and fragmented, and people (or men) structure their lives
around their tastes as consumers. Lyon summarises this set of proposi­tions: ‘is modernity itself… disintegrating, including the whole grand edifice of Enlightenment world-views? And, is a new type of society appearing, perhaps structured around consumers and consumption rather than workers and production?’ (1999: ix). This chapter is not an appropriate place to explore whether this is a true account of the changing social structures of North America and Western Europe. Lash and Urry (1994) address those issues, and they are not directly relevant to my topic. Here I focus on the impact of the vogue for postmodern theory in social science.

Подпись: 138For scholars embracing postmodern theories in social sciences and humanities, the argument of the Enlightenment project that universal, objective, scientific truths can be found by applying correct methods, was a naive, mistaken faith that could only be cherished in an era of modernism. As the developed world has become postmodern, so the Enlightenment Project has to be abandoned. Before exploring further what a postmodern position means for social science analysis, it is important to remind ourselves that this is a debate confined to a small elite in a few disciplines in a few countries in a small part of the world. The Enlightenment project and its faith in scientific objectivity, were not, and never have been universal.

Beliefs in the possibility of scientific objectivity have never been held by the majority in western societies, or by anyone in many other cul­tures. For most of the world, poverty, lack of any education, beliefs about gender, and strong religious faith, have stood between the work­ing classes, the uneducated, all-women, and whole populations holding to other belief systems, and the scientific revolution of the Enlightenment. In Western Europe and North America the Enlightenment project was never a mass phenomenon: it was always an elite project. The masses were never part of the Enlightenment project because the elite never wanted, or never managed, to educate the masses sufficiently to make them accept rationality, objectivity or the scientific method. We can remind ourselves that only those classes or fragments of classes which had access to elaborated code speech (Bernstein, 1971) could buy into the Enlightenment project: and that the Enlightenment project has been, for 200 years, the habitus of the intelligentsia (Bourdieu, 1996). This point was made forcibly in a letter to the London Review of Books, from K. W.C. Sinclair-Loutit, recounting a conversation with a proud Orthodox Serb in 1994: ‘My friend, a good Serbian Orthodox Christian, was of a culture continuous with that of the Byzantine Empire. The Renaissance, the Reformation, the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution had not touched him’ (LRB, 16 April 1998: 4). Postmodernism is not a problem if the Enlightenment never occurred in your culture.

Even in advanced industrial societies many of those with access to the education which promotes the Enlightenment project reject it: most noticeably the large number of Americans who choose a literal, cre­ationist, reading of the Bible over Enlightenment science (Numbers, 1992; Peshkin, 1986; Rose, 1986). Bearing in mind the caveat about the elite minority among whom the Enlightenment project had become the habitus, it is possible to explore what a postmodernist social theory is.

Подпись: 139There is one complication which will arise throughout this chapter: many writers defending objectivity and/or positivism against what they see as its enemies now use ‘postmodernism’ as a portmanteau term of abuse, lumping together all their enemies under that label. Callon (1999), for example, shows how Sokal and Bricmont (1997) conflate a galaxy of French postmodernist theorists with all the philosophers, his­torians, and sociologists of science. They thus conflate the arguments of Kuhn and Popper (who held totally opposed positions on the phi­losophy of science) and apply the label ‘postmodern’ to both. The same authors and texts are being attacked as ‘positivist’ and as ‘postmodern’: Paul Atkinson was attacked in 2000-1 by Bochner (2001) for being a positivist, and by John Brewer (2000) as a postmodernist, while his whole academic career has been anti-positivist and he is deeply scepti­cal about claims we are ‘all’ postmodern now (Atkinson et al., 1999; Delamont et al., 2000a).

Post-modernists argue that we have reached the end of the Enlightenment project: the faith that we can find a neutral standpoint from which to gather objective facts and scientific truth about the world. Postmodernists argue that, in 2002, it is no longer possible for a thinking person to believe in objectivity, truth or ‘science’ because the epistemological basis for a belief in objectivity has been destroyed. For 200 years elite white men have believed that objective research was possible in science, social science and the humanities. Today a subset of such men, the postmodernists, are arguing that this belief was misguid­ed: objectivity was actually the biased perspective of those same elite white men who were lulling themselves into a false sense of security by claiming objectivity. They thought that what they were doing and call­ing science was really objective. They did not realise that it was only their elite male view which they were extrapolating and elevating to the new status of universalism. The postmodernists who have argued for the past 30 years that there is no universalism, no objectivity, are them­selves a subset of the white male intellectual elite who have broken ranks. The postmodernist subset of white men are having their biggest impact in arts and social sciences. In these disciplines a fierce debate has been raging about the need for a postmodern analysis: a debate which has mystified many onlookers. An amusing exemplification of what
postmodernism ‘means’ was printed in the correspondence page of the Times Literary Supplement. There had been an angry debate about the beneficial or malevolent influence postmodernism was having in vari­ous intellectual areas, which was followed by some letters printed ask­ing plaintively what the term meant. The following letter effectively closed the correspondence.

Sir, – Paul Boghossian mentions Stanley Fish’s article, in which Fish refers to the meaning of ‘ball’ and ‘strike’. I have not read Fish and so do not know if he mentions a well-known piece of baseball philosophy. Three umpires are discussing how they do their job. The first, who is also the least experienced, says, ‘I call ‘em as they are.’ The second, who has been in the game a little longer, says, ‘I call ‘em as I see ‘em.’ The third says, ‘They’re nothing till I call ‘em.’ These three could be charac­terised as objectivism, relativism and postmodernism respectively. (Andrew Rawlinson, TLS, 3 January 1997: 17)

The third umpire was pointing out that there is nothing objective about whether a pitch is legal or not, only a human decision and label. A legal pitch is a ball so labelled by the umpire.

Postmodernism in this chapter refers only to social and cultural theories. There is no discussion of architecture, of literature or other 140 media such as film. Nor does this chapter discuss whether the formerly industrialised capitalist nations have passed on into a post-industrial and/or even postmodern state. The debates in Lash and Urry (1994) or Beck et al. (1994) are not addressed here. Readers totally unfamiliar with the concept should start with Lyon’s (1999) introduction. The term’s notoriety is usually dated from the publication of Lyotard’s The Postmodern Condition in 1979 in France, and in 1984 in English. Outside France, the ideas of Lyotard, Derrida, Lacan and Foucault have been treated closer than they probably were when their authors were all alive, and as the core exponents of a unitary theoretical position. Parisian sociology is rarely that coherent (Lemert, 1981). Tony Judt, for example, is scathing about the vogue for the French postmodernists in America and Britain: ‘For the foreigner, occasional forays into the rich treasure chest of French cultural discourse are a cost-free exercise’ (1992: 300). As Judt summarises this fashion: ‘Foreign universities are full of professors who not only study the work of Lacan, Foucault, Derrida, Barthes, Lyotard, Bourdieu, Baudrillard and others, but apply their “methods’’ assiduously to their own research, in a bewildering array of disciplines’ (1992: 299).

Charles Lemert (1981) was careful to stress the diversity and variety of the different figures important in French sociology in his collection. As several authors from continental Europe have pointed out, many of the authors lauded in the USA have been academically marginal, even unemployable, in France. Bourdieu (1988: xviii) points out that many

French scholars who are intellectual heroes in the USA held ‘marginal positions’ in the French university system. The women lionised abroad are even more marginal than the men. Noticeably while Lemert’s col­lection contained papers by 22 different French sociologists, they were all men. Judt’s list of the key figures is an all-male one. So while many feminists see inspiration in men and women from French circles, male commentators see only French men. As Callon says, ‘It is always amus­ing for a French national to discover which French authors are all the rage in the Anglo-Saxon world, and to learn that they are all exalters of postmodernism’ (1999: 284). Braidotti comments that postmod­ernism ‘far from being the prestigious site of high theory – as it seems to be in the United States – has remained a marginal and radical “wing’’ with barely any institutional pull’ (2000: 94). She explains this with named examples. Derrida was refused chairs at three universities, Irigaray has not held a teaching post since Lacan sacked her in 1974, Deleuze, Lyotard and Cixous worked at Vincennes/Saint Dennis, a marginal institution. Kelly Oliver (2000a), editor of an American col­lection of papers by French feminists, is careful to warn her readers that: (1) she has selected theoretical papers that have been influential in the Anglophone world, rather than papers representing all spheres of French feminism; and (2) the papers come from scholars who write on either social theory or psychoanalytic theory. Each of the French women is contextualised in an essay introducing her life and work. Thus the reader is warned that Kristeva ‘has an ambivalent, sometimes hostile, relationship to feminism’ (Oliver, 2000b: 155). In Hansen’s (2000) introduction to Irigaray the reader is directed to thoughtful sec­ondary sources, such as Whitford (1991). Postmodernism is an American social construction, as much as a ‘real’ coherent intellectual movement. However, for the purposes of this chapter, the furious reac­tion to postmodernism among some feminist sociologists and among some scientists is more important than arcane differences between Lyotard and Foucault.

Making fictions of female destiny

postmodernism and postfeminism

Feminists do not have to choose between feminism and exper – imentalism or postmodernism as if they were unified players in a contest, but rather must face harder questions. (Gordon, 1993: 1 1 1)

T

his chapter deals with two challenges to feminist sociology which have characterised the past ten to 15 years. One, postfeminism, is a challenge which can be found in the mass media, especially the qual­ity or broadsheet, newspapers. Essentially, it is a claim that the feminist movement of the 1970s has achieved its attainable goals, and has there­fore vanished. The next generation of women, it is claimed, take those advances for granted, and have no interest in campaigning for the unat­tainable. Thus, it is claimed, the 1970s’ women’s movement got the right to contraception, made advances towards equal pay and equal access to mortgages and pensions, put domestic violence and rape onto the political agenda, and opened up many occupations and organisa­tions to women (the Stock Exchange, horse racing as jockeys and as members of the Jockey Club, the Anglican clergy). Women in the 1990s expect these phenomena, and have no interest in campaigning for other goals, such as 24-hour state day care, or wages for housework.

Such arguments appeared regularly in the broadsheets in the 1990s, and produced a feminist response (e. g. Coppock et al., 1995). However, there has not been a parallel sociological debate. There have not been sociologists claiming to establish a postfeminist sociology, there are no books called ‘Postfeminist Sociology’, and no journals of postfeminist sociology. The journals where feminist sociology appears are not car­rying articles saying that feminist sociology is over, and they are not los­ing readers. For the purpose of this book therefore I have not dealt with postfeminism as a sociological perspective. This chapter focuses instead on the intellectual debate that is central to feminist sociology: post­modernism.

Some writers use the term poststructuralism to refer to the French theories now more usually called postmodernism. Butler (1990) and Weedon (1987), for example, invoked poststructuralism. Michele Barrett used the term poststructuralism in her concluding essay in Barrett and Phillips (1992). For the purposes of this book I have sub­sumed poststructuralism within postmodernism. Dorothy Smith (1999: 97) makes the same elision, writing of poststructuralism/post- modernism.

The exceptions

It would be very easy to assume that all male sociologists were as obliv­ious as the silverbacks whose autobiographies I have just discussed. This is certainly not the case. The impact of feminism has been notice­able on some men since the early 1970s. As examples, Ronnie Frankenberg, David H. J. Morgan, Robert W. Connell and Mairtin Mac an Ghaill all demonstrate in their writing, their citation patterns, their acknowledgements, and their reception in the company of feminists, how they have avoided being or becoming silverbacks.

These four men, three British and one Australian, have been chosen to exemplify the way in which men who have embraced feminist soci­ology have enriched their own research, and come to occupy a new type of social niche in sociology where women and men are comfortably col­leagues reading each other’s work profitably. There are other men who could be chosen as examples: the four I have chosen are men well known to me personally, have observed among feminists, have read, have had professional contacts with, and have spoken about with fem­inists over at least a decade. Because they range in age from 40 to 80, they span several ‘generations’ of sociologists.

Подпись: 129These four men, listed in descending order of their ages, have all written sociological analyses which incorporate feminist ideas and self­consciously reflect on how feminist sociology has changed their ideas. Frankenberg (1976) showed an exemplary response to feminist sociol­ogy. In a review of how community studies had conceptualised women, he criticised earlier work, including his own, and attempted a thorough revision of the genre. Morgan (1981) made a very early male contribu­tion to feminist methods. Connell, after earlier research on political socialisation and educational inequalities, began to publish path-break­ing work with his Gender and Power (1987). He followed this with Masculinities (1995) and The Men and the Boys (2000a). His 1987 book was a vigorous rejection of functional and reductionist theories of gender. Both Morgan and Connell were founders of the ‘new men’s stud­ies’, but both set up the ‘new’ sub-specialism while making contributions to feminist ideas in sociology. Frankenberg, Morgan and Connell are all heterosexual men, who write warmly about the women in their per­sonal lives. My fourth example of a male sociologist who relates posi­tively to feminist ideas is Mac an Ghaill, a gay man. His first published monograph, Young, Gifted and Black (1988) and his subsequent study of Parnell School, The Making of Men (1994) both show how seriously feminist ideas can be taken by male scholars if they are so motivated.

Ronnie Frankenberg (1976) established himself as a scholar who had reflected on feminist ideas early in the 1970s in his critique of com­munity studies. Highlighting the unconscious sexism of his own
overview of the genre (1966) and of his monograph (1957), on his jour­ney through the classic studies, he produced the best feminist comment ever. He points out that in the classic coalfield ethnography (Dennis et al., 1956); ‘The relations of production at work are lovingly and loathingly described; the relations of production in the home and com­munity are ignored with equal determination’ (1976: 37).

Подпись: 130In the concluding remarks, Frankenberg noted that ‘Women… have begun to answer the sociologists back, to claim the right not to be the inferior objects of study, but equal subjects of dialogue’ (ibid.: 48). Frankenberg saw ‘the future of sociology’ in such dialogue. In his Introduction to Frankenberg (1982), a Festschrift for Max Gluckman the anthropologist, he highlighted the sexist nature of the academic profession (ibid.: 2) and drew out the gender dimensions of Gluckman’s work (ibid.: 3). Frankenberg spent the latter part of his academic career at Keele, where he published work on health and ill­ness, childbirth, childhood, and a variety of other topics. His positive view of the scholarly potential of feminist sociology is clear from his gatekeeping. As an active editor of The Sociological Review he ensured that the editorial board included women, that articles by fem­inist sociologists appeared, and that feminist sociology was present in a mainstream general journal. Classic papers such as Acker (1981), Dominelli (1986), Charles and Kerr (1986), Finch and Mason (1990) and Kay (1990) in feminist sociology were published in this era, mak­ing a vital space for the perspective in the discipline.

David Morgan spent his career at Manchester, retiring in 2001 after more than 30 years. He worked in industrial sociology and the sociology of the family: his book The Family and Social Theory in 1975 was the first British book to take feminist ideas seriously and rethink the conventional sociology of marriage and the family. He appeared in the Roberts (1981) collection Doing Feminist Research, the only male contributor alongside eight women, and produced a landmark paper taking the ideas emerging from feminist sociology about methods into a new realm. His own research moved into auto­biography, into establishing the new men’s studies in the UK, and then on to the body, again a newly emerging sociological topic. Here Scott and Morgan (1993) was one of the pioneering collections. His retirement event in Manchester was marked by its heavily female, feminist audience/participation. David Morgan’s position in feminist sociology is demonstrated by his willingness to act as external exam­iner for a PhD thesis on menstruation (George, 1990; George and Murcott, 1992). Only a man comfortable with women, feminism and feminist sociology could be appointable and accept the appointment to examine a thesis on the most polluting ‘sticky’ topic (Douglas, 1966).

R. W. Connell’s feminist credentials are more public: he is included in the Laslett and Thorne (1997) collection Feminist Sociology, and is one of only two men in the Allen and Howard (2000) collection Provoking Feminisms. Connell’s (1997) autobiographical essay in Laslett and Thorne is quite unlike the men’s essays analysed earlier in the chapter, both stylistically and in its referential frame. He has pro­duced a ‘messy’ text, with vignettes of events from his life set in italics that dramatise them as turning points. His text is both sociological and reflexive at the same time as he says: ‘I was fighting against hegemonic masculinity at the same time as I deployed its techniques’ (1997: 154). He reveals mistakes he has made, and the mixture of accidents, deci­sions and personal events that have shaped his life. Connell writes of his daughter, and his partner, Pam, as well as many women whose work he admires. He publishes Gender and Power (1987) and finds that he has become a founder of men’s studies:

Подпись: 131What is most striking is the difficulty many journals and reviewers have in categorising the book. Can’t be social theory because it’s not about Marx and Weber. Can’t be women’s studies because it’s written by a man… Seven journals work out a solution that completely throws me… Because it’s about gender, and because it’s by a man, it must be men’s studies. … I have not felt so firmly positioned since the days when reviewers decided that because I wrote about class, I must be a Marxist. (1997: 159)

One way in which feminist-friendly men reveal their altered academic worlds is their citation patterns. The references in Connell (2000b) include Judith Butler, Nancy Chodorow, Cynthia Cockburn, Bronwen Davies, Rebecca Dobash, Cynthia Epstein, Sandra Harding, Arlie Hochschild, Margaret Eisenhart, Sue Lees, Adrienne Rich, Barrie Thorne, Sylvia Walby, and Lyn Yates. Because these feminist publica­tions are woven into his book it is a thoroughly contemporary read.

Mac an Ghaill is the youngest of my four. He has worked in the soci­ology of education since the 1980s, with a pair of ethnographies of English secondary schools. In the books the interrelationships of gen­der, class, race, sexualities and educational success are thoughtfully plotted. He has also written books and articles on masculinities and the new men’s studies, and on race and ethnicities (Mac an Ghaill, 1988, 1994, 1996, 1999). His contribution to feminist sociology is developed further in the next section.

The next section focuses on current empirical areas, where feminist perspectives are more fully integrated. Education and medicine are both sociological areas which are strong in the UK, and areas which look very different in 2002 from the way they did in 1968. Feminist sociology has had far more impact in the empirical areas of health and education than it has on the self-conscious reflections of silverbacks.

CURRENT EMPIRICAL AREAS

In these two empirical areas, each of which has a specialist journal based in the UK but with an international reputation (British Journal of Sociology of Education, Sociology of Health and Illness), which has existed for over 20 years, it is possible to demonstrate changes in the gender regime. Education will be considered first.

Sociology of education was almost devoid of research on gender, and of feminist perspectives, before 1980. Acker (1981) demonstrated the absence of gender as a topic and an analytic device by coding all the 184 articles published on education in the three generic sociology jour­nals (Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Sociology) between 1960 and 1979. She concluded that a Martian arriving in Britain

Подпись: 132would conclude that numerous boys but few girls go to secondary mod­ern schools; that there are no girls’ public schools; that there are almost no adult women influentials of any sort; that most students in higher education study science and engineering; that women rarely make a rit­ual transition called ‘from school to work’ and never go into further education colleges. Although some women go to university, most prob­ably enter directly into motherhood… and except for a small number of teachers, social workers and nurses, there are almost no adult women workers in the labour market. (1994: 30-1)

Lightfoot (1975) drew similar conclusions in a review of the American literature. In both countries feminist sociologists of education changed the sub-specialism, and mainstreamed their new ideas after 1980.

The changes can be seen in the specialist journals, and in the mono­graphs and edited collections. In the UK BJSE was founded in 1980 with anti-sexism as one of its basic tenets, and had eight women and 17 men on its initial editorial board. Throughout its 22-year history it has showcased feminist work. In 2001 there were 17 women and 23 men on the board. British sociology of education also provided most of the editors and much of the content of a specialist journal, Gender and Education, founded in 1989. The explosion of research can be seen in the differences between the material available for Delamont (1980) compared to that around for Delamont (1990) and then for Coffey and Delamont (2000). A collection such as Francis and Skelton (2001) would have been unimaginable in 1981, as would the review of the qualitative research in the field by Gordon et al. (2001).

Of course, feminists cannot be complacent about their contribution to the sociology of education, or the changes they have produced in the field, or even about their scholarship being cited, recognised or remembered. There may also be a gendered, sexist, pattern of forget­ting. Work by women may be forgotten when work by men from the

same era survives. In Delamont (1989b: Appendix 1) there is a detailed analysis of sociology of education which includes some analysis of for­gotten women researchers. Today such sexist forgetting continues. Peter Woods (1996), for example, provides a list of exemplary ethno­graphies in the sociology of education discussing 55 authors. He cites 33 men and only 15 women. Worse, four of the men are cited and quot­ed repeatedly throughout the chapter, while only one woman is cited more than once (Delamont, 2001). The women’s, and the feminist, con­tributions to ethnographic work on sociology of education are already being ‘forgotten’. A parallel analysis of contemporary quantitative work needs to be done, but it seems likely that Jean Floud, Olive Banks, Hilda Himmelweit and other women who did quantitative sociology may also be being forgotten.

Подпись: 133The feminist contribution to the sociology of education opened up new areas for research, such as sexual harassment, sex education, and the gender stereotypes in pupils’ folklore (Delamont, 1991). Mac an Ghaill’s (1988, 1994) two landmark ethnographies of secondary schools in England are emblematic of the dimensions feminism has added to sociology of education, thus transforming the sub-specialism. In his study of Parnell School, Mac an Ghaill focuses on a paradox: that although masculine values and standpoints dominate English educa­tion, there had been relatively few projects making those masculine standpoints problematic (1994: 1). He opens the book with two inci­dents from his teaching career: a fight over homophobic insults and a boy pupil giving him a bunch of flowers. The head found the latter inci­dent more threatening to the discipline and reputation of the school. In the exemplary, fine-grained ethnography of the staff room, the class­room and the playground, Mac an Ghaill explores subtleties of sexist behaviour and attitudes among teachers and pupils. Among the staff, for example, he explores how the ‘liberal’ male teachers:

were unable to see the limits of personal consciousness-raising in rela­tion to their own position in the institutional sexual structuring of the school. As with many politically progressive activists, in trying to under­stand their own contradictory position in a system of oppression, they tended to take for granted the privileges of white straight middle-class masculinity that were ascribed to them. (1994: 29)

In his exploration of this area, Mac an Ghaill’s work parallels analyses by feminists such as Datnow (1998). The analyses of sex, gender, sexu­ality and sexual orientation among the pupils, both female and male, are built on feminist classics such as Stanworth (1983) and Skeggs (1988). By integrating and building upon work such as Holly (1989) Mac an Ghaill displays both his own engagement with feminism and how femi­nist perspectives have changed sociology of education for the better.

Moving on from the sociology of education to that of health and illness, a parallel enrichment can be traced. There was no equivalent British paper to Acker’s (1981) devastating expose in the sociology of health and illness. However, in the USA Lorber (1975) reviewed the field, and the subsequent explosion can be seen from Lorber (2000). When the journal Sociology of Health and Illness was launched in 1978, it did not have an explicit feminist agenda. However, there were eight men and only four women on the editorial board. The edi­tor and the review editor were men. The international panel of editori­al advisers contained 20 men and eight women. Feminist perspectives were not particularly apparent in the first volume. In 2002, three of the four editors, both review editors, four of the ten editorial board and five of the 13 advisers were women. Its pages provided an intel­lectual space for displaying the strengths of feminist analyses. Women’s health had been a feminist cause throughout all three waves of feminism, so it is not surprising that women sociologists were active in changing the research on health and illness.

Подпись: 134Central to this explosion in the feminist sociology of health and illness was Meg Stacey, and the papers published to celebrate her life and work display the ways in which the feminist ideas stimulated men and women (see Bendelow et al., 2002). Stacey’s (2002) reflec­tions on her career and on the volume dedicated to her explore sev­eral themes, but the impact of feminism on the sub-specialism of health and illness is shown to have been powerful. Bloor’s (2001) review of the qualitative research in the sociology of health and ill­ness does not explicitly celebrate feminist angles, but the topics, methods and reflexivity de facto reveal an empirical area trans­formed by feminism.

Opening up gender differences in morbidity, mortality and illness behaviour was itself a major task, especially with a feminist emphasis on studying illness behaviours, not behaviour. Challenging the med – icalisation of pregnancy and childbirth, especially in the USA, and making problematic the hysterectomy, HRT and the widespread pre­scription of anti-depressants to women were among the topics added by feminists to the research agenda of medical sociology. Interactionist studies of doctor-patient and doctor-nurse encounters, and analyses of gender and professionalisation were also advanced by feminists (Annandale and Hunt, 2000). Feminists were instrumental in studying health workers other than doctors, especially the low-paid and the unpaid. The state of sociology of health and illness in 2002 has changed unrecognisably from the 1960s (Olesen, 2002), in large part because of a feminist engagement.

CONCLUSION

Sociologists of science have shown that when a new paradigm arrives in a research area, its acceptance is largely due to an older cohort of ‘disbelievers’ and ‘rejecters’ retiring, moving out of what Collins (1985) called the ‘core set’ and eventually dying. That is, few scientists change their own paradigm, rather, they are replaced in the core sets by younger colleagues who treat the new paradigm as the correct one for that sub-specialism. The silverback narratives can be seen as an exam­ple of an older, retired, dying generation who will take their pre-femi­nist, sexist, impoverished sociology to their graves, leaving the discipline in the hands of a new generation including Dean MacCannell. Reading Mac an Ghaill in education, this seems plausible. However, there are some reasons to be wary. Many of the topics and approaches which fem­inist sociology addressed in the 1970s and 1980s went out of favour in the discipline during the 1990s when, after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and under the influence of postmodernism, the whole discipline abandoned those topics and appropriated others. The next chapter addresses the problems this has posed for feminist sociologists.

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