Abstract

Feminists have made important contributions to sociology, but we have yet to transform the basic conceptual frameworks of the field. A comparison of sociology with anthropology, history, and literature–disciplines which have been more deeply transformed–suggests factors that may facilitate or inhibit feminist paradigm shifts. The traditional subject matter of sociology fell into a co-optable middle ground, neither as thoroughly male centered as in history or literature, nor as deeply gendered as in anthropology. In addition, feminist perspectives have been contained in sociology by functionalist conceptualizations of gender, by the inclusion of gender as a variable rather than as a theoretical category, and by being ghettoized, especially in Marxist sociology. Feminist rethinking is also affected by underlying epistemologies (proceeding more rapidly in fields based on interpretive rather than positivist understanding), and by the status and nature of theory within a discipline.

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