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The Voice and the Listener: Feminist Theory and the Sociological Canon

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This paper discusses the relationship between feminist theory and the contemporaneous efforts to re-think basic sociological categories occurring in the aftermath of the 1960s' social movements, primarily in the US and Europe. I examine the questions that were being asked by both feminist thinkers and several major sociological theorists (Richard Sennett, Alain Touraine and Anthony Giddens). I attempt to evaluate the extent to which the latter were initially, and in later work, willing or interested in hearing and incorporating feminist voices in their re-thinking of the field. I identify a tendency to circumscribe feminist contributions to particular substantive areas - those related specifically to gender, or to sexuality, subjectivity and personal life - with, as Susan Bordo has pointed out, much less receptivity to feminist theorists' contributions to more general "cultural critique" and issues which are considered to be "macro-level". I also engage in a brief discussion of how these problems have been reproduced in Brazilian social sciences and the uneasy relationship between feminist scholarship and academic sociology in Brazil today.


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