Thursday, February 13, 2014

Max Weber's Theory and Feminism - Summary

Feminism was one of the earliest movements influenced by the ideas of Max Weber regarding social research. Feminism, as a social theory, is not one unified approach and there are a few types of feminist theory. The most commonly identified forms of feminism are liberal feminism which argues for gradual change in the roles of women, Marxist feminism which sees capitalism and gender as enemies of women and radical feminism which criticises patriarchy and views masculinity as an enemy. Another type of feminism is black feminism sees both racism and masculinity as issues for Black women. The different strands of feminist theory widely disagree on many points, but all of them share a common ground point of apposing patriarchy.

Feminism built of Weber's notions regarding the nature of social inquiry. Unlike positivist thinkers of his time, Weber thought that there cannot be such a thing as an "objective" study of human society. In other words Weber "sociolozied" science and claimed the aspect like ideology influence the manner in which objects are studies. Feminist thinkers drew on Weberian thought when they argued that social sciences are in essence masculine, and in being so are agents in sustaining patriarchy.    

Following Max Weber, feminists tend to argue that empirical, scientific approaches to research (be it social or exact) are masculine in nature and orientation. Feminists reject the notion of value free and objective sociology, claiming that it is 'malestream' and ideological thought (this is especially true with feminism related to critical theory). According to Millen, what makes feminist research feminist in intent is that it is politically motivated and that it intends to have a role in changing social inequality. It considers the experiences of women and provides a context for the understanding of female issues. The researcher may actually become part of the research process. Feminist research acknowledges that the politics of the researcher influences the findings and actually views this bias as a strength of the research process. It is this type of thought that makes feminism a critical theory of society.

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