Feminism, Late Modernism and Postmodernism

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FEMINIST, LATE-MODERN AND
POSTMODER SOCIOLOGICAL THEORIES
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FEMINISM
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Liberal Feminism
All human beings should have equal rights
The progress towards equal rights can be achieved through the gradual reform in society
Women can achieve equal rights through reform
Liberal feminist work for laws and policies against sexual discrimination
Liberal feminists also work towards cultural change as traditional prejudices and
stereotypes about gender differences are a barrier to equality
They critique functionalism in two ways
- Sex refers to biological differences between males and females
- Gender refers to masculine and feminine characteristics
Sexist attitudes about gender are culturally constructed and transmitted through
socialisation
We must change society's socialisation pattern
Over time gender equality will become the norm in society
They see men and women as being able to perform the same roles
This approach is the closest feminist theory that relates to consensus in society
Marxist and radical feminists would argue that they fail to understand the underlying
causes of women's subordination in society
Radical Feminism
It's key concept is patriarchy
- A society where men dominate women
- Is universal
- Biological difference leads to dependence
- Patriarchy is fundamental ­ basic form of social inequality
- All men oppress all women - men benefit from patriarchy
- Patriarchal oppression is direct and personal, not just public but private
Marxists argue that it is class and not patriarchy that is the primary form of social
inequality
Radical feminists argue that personal politics ­ issues such as divorce, rape, men have the
power
Patriarchy would be transformed if women are able to be free:
- Separatism : living apart from men would create a new culture of female independence
- Consciousness-raising : collective action, e.g. "reclaim the night" marches

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Political lesbianism: some heterosexual relationships are regarded as `sleeping with the
enemy' and therefore lesbianism is the only form of escape from men's oppression
Marxist Feminism
Women's subordination rotted by capitalism
Functions of capitalism:
- Reserve army of labour: women are a source of cheap, exploitable labour for employers
- Absorbing male workers' anger: this would otherwise be directed at capitalism
- Reproduction of labour : women reproduce the labour force through unpaid domestic
labour
Some Marxist feminists argue that non-economic factors must also be…read more

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Rather than representing a change to a new, postmodernist society, modern society itself
is changing
Late modernists also differ from postmodernists because they still accept the
Enlightenment project and the belief that it is possible to improve humankind through
objective knowledge
Giddens
Late modern society is characterised by rapid change on a global scale
This is due to two characteristics of late modern society
Disembedding
- The breaking down of geographical barriers
- E.g.…read more

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National state boundaries breaking down
- Global companies create a global culture
- Global media gives us images of what happens elsewhere
- The economy of one country influences the economy of another
ICT
- Led to a time-space compression
- Distances between individuals are reduced e.g.…read more

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Baudrillard describes this as hyper-reality
- The signs are more real than reality itself
Baudrillard argues such signs are meaningless because they do not represent anything real
However, most people can see the distinction between reality and fiction.…read more

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