Feminist theory - detailed notes

Detailed notes on the feminist theory. Specifically relevant to AQA A2 Sociology Unit 4 students, but will be of use to students studying other exam boards. The notes include:

  • Millet (1970)
  • Walby (1990)
  • Firestone (1972) - Radical Feminist
  • Ortner (1974) - Radical Feminist
  • Rosaldo (1974) - Radical Feminist
  • Engels (1972) - Marxist/Socialist Feminist
  • Coontz & Henderson (1986) - Marxist/Socialist Feminist
  • Oakley (1974) - Liberal Feminist
  • Mirza (1992) - Black Feminist


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A2 Sociology Theory and Methods

Feminist notes

Feminists said that women's social experience was different from that of men

Women were treated as inferior and therefore saw life differently from men
Radical feminists: All men are bad
Marxist/socialist feminists: Class elements might be involved & only some men
are bad…

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A2 Sociology Theory and Methods

Walby argues that legislation such as the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 has tried
to reduce patriarchy, but that many state policies still suggest that women and
men have different roles:
o Differences between maternity and paternity rights
o Statutory maternity pay for women far outweighs…

Page 3

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A2 Sociology Theory and Methods

Ortner (1974) ­ Radical Feminist

Culture is the basis of differentiation between the sexes, as it is always valued
more highly than biology and is controlled by men
Whereas women are seen as being close to nature because they give birth

Ortner Criticism

Ortner fails…

Page 4

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A2 Sociology Theory and Methods

When a woman moved to live with her husband's family, she was more likely to
lose control over the foods produced
As a result, men became more powerful
Most societies appear to have been patrilocal

Marxist Feminists see the family as playing an important part…

Page 5

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A2 Sociology Theory and Methods

During the 1800s, men, women and children began to work in factories, moving
to towns from the countryside
Factory Act 1819:
o Banned children <9 from being employed
o This meant women were more likely to have to stay at home to care for


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