GOAL 5 TO GET CITED, TO GET READ
Feminist sociologists set out to get their ideas into print. However, ‘just’ getting work published is not enough. The work needs to be read, to be treated seriously, and to be cited. All these three audience responses are social matters. Sociologists read sociology, treat it seriously or discard it, and decide whether or not to cite it according to the norms and values of the discipline. Citation patterns have been studied sociologically most intensively by the sociologists of science (Moravcsik, 1988). There is a paradox about citations. Scholars cite their friends and colleagues, their supporters, and some of those they are in dispute with. However, there is a pattern of citing the people with whom one’s disputes are minor, and/or those one believes one can destroy utterly. Really challenging, rapier-to-the-heart critics, and those who seem to be so wrong as to be mad, do not get cited at all. If you do not cite people’s work, that is a way of keeping them out of the discourse altogether. Thus, getting feminist sociology cited is not a straightforward task.
One problem which faced all women writing and publishing academic work, whether or not they were feminists, has been discussed by Tescione (1998). She argues that women’s surname changes disadvantage them in citation counts. A woman who publishes under her maiden name, her married name, her divorced name, and her remarried name is very unlikely to be credited with all her publications in any bibliometric exercise, because there is no method of plotting and accumulating citations by the same person under different names. It is possible, of course, that women’s work may make less impact than men’s when it has appeared under several different names. In the sociology of education, for example, all of Martyn Hammersley’s publications from 1976 to 2001 appear under his name. The feminist Madeleine Arnot produced her earlier work as Macdonald. The feminist anthropologist Naneke Redclift started publishing as Naneke Codd. Rayna Rapp Reiter has published as Rapp, as Reiter, and as Rapp Reiter. A feminist bibliometric project would be to compare the citations to the work of a woman who never changed her name, such as Miriam David, who is a contemporary of Madeleine Arnot, with those of Arnot.
I have explored the citation patterns among British sociologists writing about social mobility elsewhere (Delamont, 1989a). The two dominant groups, at Oxford and Cambridge, systematically failed to cite, or address the research done by A. P.M. Coxon and his colleagues (Coxon and Jones, 1978, 1979a, 1979b). In that area arguments put forward by feminist sociologists were addressed, while Coxon’s much more fundamental and foundational challenge was totally frozen out. Often, though, feminist work is not cited, especially not by men. Male sociologists of education in contemporary Britain are systematically citing research by men, and not citing studies by women (see Delamont, 2001a and 2001b). Catherine Lutz (1990) conducted an analysis of the citation patterns in four leading American Anthropology journals from 1982 to 1986. In 446 articles there were 11,642 citations: 8,661 to males, 1,932 to women, 874 self-citations, and 175 to a person of unspecifiable gender. So 18 per cent of citations were to women. Women authors are more likely to cite women than male authors: twice as likely. Ward and Grant (1985) conducted a similar study in American Sociology. Many feminist papers were not cited even in future issues of the same journals. They found that papers which added material on women to debates, or called for gender-based modifications of sociological arguments were subsequently ghettoised or frequently ignored. Such ‘papers were not criticised or refuted by authors’ they ‘simply were ignored’ (Ward and Grant, 1985: 152). This omission of feminist papers was particularly striking in synthesising or state-of-the-art papers. Michelle Fine (1999) has
published a parallel analysis of the citation patterns in American psychology journals, with essentially similar conclusions.
Ignoring counter-arguments is a good way to destroy them and their proponents by freezing them out of the discourse. At one level this sounds pretty trivial. However, there is almost no point in writing and publishing theoretical or empirical research if no one reads it. Of course, publications build up on the CV, and are used to help get jobs, tenure, promotion, and so forth. However, a long list of unread and uncited publications is not career-enhancing. Few feminists would accept the reliance on citation counts as an indicator of the quality of the research as uncritically as Cole (1979), and Cole and Cole (1973) did. However, some universities use citation counts as an indicator of esteem, as Tescione (1998) warns. In the United Kingdom, the past 20 years have seen a rapid growth of audit and accountability measures. In particular, staff in universities have been subjected to the recurrent Research Assessment Exercises, and the organisation of university vice-chancellors currently called UUK and formerly the CVCP have collected annual publication returns, so a scholar needs to be publishing to have an individual CV and to contribute to the departmental profile. However, few scholars would be happy publishing merely to build up a list of unread works.
Consequently, one of the goals of feminist sociology has been to get feminist work read, understood, appreciated and cited. Here the differences between Marxist feminists and liberal feminists, on the one hand, and radical feminists, on the other, are readily apparent. Marxist and liberal feminist sociologists see themselves as part of mixed scholarly communities, and therefore expect their male colleagues to read their work, and take it on board. Radical feminists are much more interested in an all-female audience, building up a separatist sociology. There are no Marxist or liberal feminist writings circulated only to women, but there have been radical feminist publications barred to male readers.
Of course, before our work can be cited, it needs to have been read. Many leading scholars, especially men, seem to find it difficult to read feminist work. Shirley Ardener (1975) edited a collection of feminist papers, called Perceiving Women. A decade later she wrote that one of her male colleagues confessed to her that he ‘wanted’ to read it, but ‘couldn’t bring himself to’ (Ardener, 1985). Ruth Behar (1995) reports that when she was planning Behar and Gordon (1995) a ‘kindly male anthropologist’ warned her that men would dismiss her project as ‘derivative’, because it was a feminist response to Clifford and Marcus (1986).
GOAL 6 CHANGING TEACHING
There is a need for a thoroughly researched study of the changing nature of the curriculum in sociology at school, university undergraduate and postgraduate levels since 1968. We have histories of women’s studies (Bird, 2001) but not of the changing nature of sociology. It is likely that the school and the university curricula have changed to incorporate feminist sociological perspectives. However, these may be compartmentalised (one lecture in the theory course, one option in the final year), or perhaps they permeate the whole curriculum. In the absence of data on this topic, I have not explored it further here.