Theories and Methods - Feminism, Patriarchy and Identity

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Origins of Feminism

  • Wave 1 - concerned with creating equality between men and women. Was expressed politically through the suffragette movement
  • Wave 2 - concerned with the radical transformation of society to overcome patriarchy. Based on radical ideas. Sees patriarchy as imposed on women because of their biology
  • Wave 3 - concerned with diverse and local forms of feminism

Varieties of Feminism

Liberal Feminism

Key idea: to end discrimination between men and women, ending discrimination through the transformation of attitudes and laws. This involved such acts as the Equal Pay Act 1971 and the Sex Discrimination Act 1975


  • Seeks gradual change within society at the expense of fully overcoming the cause of opression: patriarchy
  • Does oppression exist despite legal and attitudinal changes?

Radical Feminism

Key idea: to explain the existence of a system of patriarchy within society where men dominate


  • Gender inequality can only be overcome through the radical transformation of society
  • The alternatives suggested by radical feminism such as the abolition of the family and seperatism are seen as too extreme

Marxist Feminism

Key idea: to explore how class-based inequality within capitalism intensifies patriarchy.


  • Do the central concepts of Marxism and the concept of patriarchy combine?
  • The approach may have lost validity given the increasing participation of women in the labour market and the decline of the traditional housewife

Black Feminism

Key idea: to recognise that earlier versions of feminism generalised patriarchy from white middle class…


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