When the patriarchy gets worried it goes into action. (Cross, 1981: 22)

T

his is a book about feminist sociology. It is not an account of the sociological research on women. There are plenty of those (e. g. Delamont, 1980, 2001 and Pilcher, 1999). Rather it is an account of a theoretical perspective in sociology which has been important for 30 years. The central argument of the book is that the feminist sociologies are now 30 years old, are more subversive of the dominant paradigm than the other 30-year-old marginal perspectives such as ethnomethod – ology, conversational analysis and discourse analysis, yet they have been successfully ghettoised by the malestream. Throughout the book I will write of feminist sociologies, because the three main traditions come from different roots and occupy different positions in the disci­pline today. They have in common that all three are ghettoised and marginalised in sociology.

This may seem an absurd claim: certainly those who dislike, resent or fear feminist sociology see its malign influence everywhere. The American men who contributed to a symposium in Sociological Forum in 1994 on ‘What’s Wrong with Sociology?’, such as James Davis (1994) share this negative perception. If, for example, a person attend­ing the 2000 BSA conference at York strolled round the exhibition put up by the publishers and booksellers, and picked up their promotional leaflets about the titles being offered at a discount, it might seem that there were dozens of books on feminism. In fact, as Table 1.1 shows, titles on women, gender, feminism and men’s studies/masculinities are still a small proportion of what publishers think they can promote at a BSA conference.

While Table 1.1 shows that there are many more books on women, on gender and on men’s studies/masculinities than there would have been in 1960 or even 1980, there are relatively few titles on feminism, and some publishers have none on show at all. Once one considers that

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there are many varieties of feminist sociology, the exposure of any one type of feminist sociology is pretty small. To examine how sociology has reached 2002, we will use vignettes of Burminster, a fictional British university.

Publisher

Women

Gender

Feminism Men and Total titles masculinities on display

Macmillan

18

5

4

150

Sage

6

4

144

Pearson

6

2

4

2

133

Polity

1

2

1

2

133

CUP

2

1

97

Routledge

4

1

2

1

97

Continuum

6

3

1

2

91

Ashgate

5

3

2

69

Berg

7

2

1

60

Wisepress

2

1

2

51

OUP

2

3

1

1

47

Table 1.1: Books showcased at the 2000 BSA Conference