Feminist Sociology

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Sara Delamont

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  • BSA: New Horizons in Sociology

    The British Sociological Association is publishing a series of books to review the state of the discipline at the beginning of the millenium. New Horizons in Sociology also seeks to locate the contribution of British scholarship to the wider development of sociology. Sociology is taught in all the major institutions of higher education in the United Kingdom as well as throughout North America and the Europe of the former western bloc. Sociology is now establishing itself in the former eastern bloc. But it was only in the second half of the twentieth century that sociology moved from the fringes of UK academic life into the mainstream. British sociology has also provided a home for movements that have renewed and challenged the discipline; the revival of academic Marxism, the renaissance in feminist theory, the rise of cultural studies, for example. Some of these developments have become sub-disciplines whilst yet others have challenged the very basis of the sociological enterprise. Each has left their mark. Now therefore is a good time both to take stock and to scan the horizon, looking back and looking forward.

    Recent volumes include:

    Nationalism and Social Theory

    Gerard Delanty and Patrick O'Mahoney

    Interactionism

    Paul Atkinson and William Housley

    Copyright

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    Acknowledgements

    I am grateful to Robert Moore for encouraging me to write this book. Paul Atkinson has allowed me to rehearse all the ideas in here many times and as he has actually read Breaking Out he also understands them. Rosemary Bartle Jones and Karen Chivers word-processed this book for me, and I am very grateful. The ideas in this book have been clarified over thirty years of argument with women and men, from Margo Harding (then Galloway) in Edinburgh, and Lorna Duffin and Irene Jones in Leicester, to Teresa Rees and Amanda Coffey in Cardiff. I dedicate it to Ginnie Olesen who is always an inspiration.

    Introduction: Of Silverbacks and Tree Houses

    When struggling to write this book I wondered why I had asked to do so. On hearing about the series I wrote to the editor Robert Moore and asked who was writing the gender/feminism volume. In part this was to ensure that feminist, and gender issues were included in the series: the price of feminist inclusion is often eternal vigilance. Had I been told that volumes had already been commissioned on women and/or on feminism and/or on gender, I would have rejoiced and got on with other projects. When Robert Moore told me that he had yet to organise any book on gender or ‘women and men’ or feminism or queer theory or men's studies I stepped forward and said I was available as an author if that would suit him, even though writing a book like this is a poisoned chalice. However, I did also want to write it, because I had finished an introductory textbook on gender in modern Britain (Delamont, 2001) and that had led me to revisit and rethink where I stood on a whole range of topics in feminist sociology which I had not been addressing since I had finished Knowledgeable Women (Delamont, 1989b). Robert Moore and I discussed how gender, feminism, queer theory, and the new men's studies might or might not figure in the series, and settled on the structure and perspective of this book. I got the contract, cleared the desk (metaphorically) and started to write, to read and reread, and to think and rethink. Writing a book on feminist sociology is not a recipe for a quiet or an apolaustic life: only for serious struggle. There have been six problems. These dilemmas are not unique to me, of course: most are old favourites. I have confessed to each, and to my solution, below. They are: (1) demarcating feminist sociology from feminist perspectives in other disciplines; (2) distinguishing feminist sociology from the sociology of women and/or of gender; (3) dealing with the malestream of sociology; (4) the temptation of messy texts and fictions; (5) the fear of rejection by my sisters; (6) and the lure of detective stories.

    The biggest problem is the large, and rapidly expanding literature on feminism, on gender studies and on lesbian and gay studies. Not only is it hard to keep up with that literature (there were three collections of feminist science studies published by one firm in 2001 and many many more in fields like cultural studies or literary criticism), there is also a definitional problem. How far is this work sociology? Take, for example, Ahmed et al.'s (2000) collection Transformations: Thinking through Feminism, which frames a book series of the same title. Is the book a contribution to sociology? Is the series? There are sociologists in the volume, but there are also scholars in other fields such as English and Philosophy. Oxford University Press have a series: Oxford Readings in Feminism Studies with 12 titles. There is no book on Feminism and Sociology, but many of the titles that do exist address themes central to sociology (the public and the private, science, race, cultural studies). A Glossary of Feminist Theory by Andermahr et al. (2000) is, similarly, a collaboration between two sociologists and a literary theorist: is it sociology or not? Deciding to exclude feminist work because it is not primarily sociological seems petty, yet the book is for a British Sociological Association (BSA) series, and is meant to be about sociology. The distinction is not trivial. Much of the dispute in Allen and Howard's (2000) collection is between political scientists (Hekman, 2000) and sociologists (Smith, 2000), and focuses on feminist ideas becoming troubled at disciplinary boundaries. Smith robustly attacks Hekman: ‘Susan Hekman's interpretation of my work is so systematically out to lunch it is difficult to write a response … Apart from a lack of care and thought, what is she doing that leads to her systematic misreading?’ (2000: 59).

    Smith's answer to her own robust and rhetorical question lies partly in disciplinary differences. ‘Speak for your own discipline, Susan’, she cautions. Sticking strictly to Sociology could involve leaving out many important and exciting ideas; even if we do not entirely follow the late Carl Couch's (1997: 102) statement that ‘most sociologists are as dull as turnips’. Also, I have a weakness for straying into anthropology, my original discipline, while steering away from political science, philosophy, economics or psycho-analytic theory, where I feel alien. Some of the topics I have treated as sociological overlap with other disciplines. Domestic violence is perhaps the best example. This is a social problem that has been extensively researched by criminologists, and I have drawn on that discipline in my thinking about domestic violence.

    Distinguishing feminist sociology from the sociologies of women and/or of gender is a second problem. There are certainly anti-feminist writings on women and on gender, and there are publications on women and gender whose authors may not self-identify as feminists, or who may self-identify but are unrecognisable as feminists to anyone else. In the 1970s any sociological research on women or on gender was potentially feminist because all the empirical areas were only just opening up, and so all the research done was mutually cited and integrated. In 2002 it is possible for a sociologist to do research on, for example, women and divorce, and not be feminist at all, not to cite feminist work, and not to be integrated with any feminist sociology. For this book I have charitably assumed that anyone who wrote about women or gender from a feminist perspective, loosely defined, in the period 1960–80 ‘counts’ as a feminist sociologist for this book. After 1980, I have narrowed the focus to include only those authors who have self-defined as feminist.

    A third dilemma turns on men: should I focus on sociological work by, on, and for women, or scrutinise the impact of feminist perspectives on malestream sociology and men's responses to feminist sociology? There is no easy answer to this: the dilemma is central to Chapter 5. This dilemma is shared by many distinguished feminist sociologists. Joan Acker (1997), for example, confesses to it. Here I know that I am going to annoy many feminists, because I am committed to changing the malestream. Throughout my career I have always been an advocate of feminist ideas being incorporated into a changed malestream. My whole academic life has been spent campaigning for qualitative methods and (liberal) feminist perspectives to be taken seriously by leading scholars in sociology. From this standpoint, my 30-year battle is nowhere near won. There is a continuing need to harry malestream sociologists to take feminist perspectives seriously, to cite women, to read women's work, and to confess to previous sexist sins of omission and commission. I do not see any point in creating a feminist ghetto.

    Here comes a diversion from the five problems. Talk of ghettos leads inevitably to thoughts of the golem (Collins and Pinch, 1993, 1998; Lichtenstein and Sinclair, 1999; Meyrink, 1915; Ripellino, 1995). Meyrink's novel tells of a rabbi in Prague who, in 1580, created a golem from mud, to be a giant shambling servant, which one Friday runs amok. Collins and Pinch (1993, 1998) use the image playfully in their popularisation of key ideas from science, technology and innovation studies. Lichtenstein and Sinclair invoke the mythology in their unravelling of the ‘secret’ of David Rodinsky's disappearance from his room over the synagogue in Princelet Street, Whitechapel. Princelet Street is only a few minutes walk from the former Fawcett, now the National Women's Library's new building in Old Castle Street, where our feminist legacy is preserved with lottery funds, both of course in the area where Jack the Ripper killed his victims. The image of the golem is a haunting one. As Lichtenstein and Sinclair evoke it:

    Now a golem can be nothing more than a heap of dust, a few unidentified rags in a forgotten room. In the best fiction … the creature is already a memory; it belongs in a fabulous but longed-for past. The golem is that which has been banished, an atavistic cartoon. A dream companion. The ugly shape of something that has gone and cannot be recalled. A dark absence whose strange gravitational field sucks in the spectres of anxiety, paranoia, impotence. Miss Havisham is a golem. So is Mr Rochester's first wife (and her pale avatar, Daphne du Maurier's eponymous Rebecca). Strange how the English like to gender-bend their golems, turn them into women. The cobwebs of English romanticism are wisps of an unblooded wedding dress, memento mori for a mad bride in the attic. (1999: 180)

    The feminist resonances are multiplex and blatant. This is the London of Sylvia Pankhurst, Annie Besant, Sarah Adler (who founded the first Yiddish Theatre in London with her husband) and Toynbee Hall, Bedlam itself. The very mention of Bedlam invokes the feminist classic Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar (1979) The Madwoman in the Attic. The thoughts of Jack the Ripper and of fin-de-siècle moral panics about women's changing roles conjure up J. Walkowitz's (1992) City of Dreadful Delight. These are potent images of the world of the First Wave feminists, and the attempts by Third Wave feminists to preserve their legacy and our own: of the violence against women, and the madhouse as a prison for women. Identifying oneself with a gender-bent golem is a strange feeling.

    In that strange landscape where First Wave and Third Wave feminisms are multiply enfolded, modern sociological questions are raised. The spectre of the flâneur walks those streets, and it is here that the debate about the possibility of the flâneuse is contested. Ian Sinclair is, as Wilson (2000) aptly points out, the flâneur of modern London: the flâneur of the new economy of signs and space. In writing this book, the arcane dispute about whether or not there were, or ever can be, women flâneuses is ever present. Because the flâneur is a central concept in postmodernism, the possible existence or the impossibility of a flâneuse is important. (see Barrett, 1992; Wilson, 2000; Wolff, 1985.) It is an old idea: John Buchan (1919) has Richard Hannay apologise for mistaking a stout fellow for a flâneur in Mr Standfast, and in 1926 has a character warn a young man to take up a profession and not be a flâneur in The Dancing Floor, both very nineteenth-century novels. Parsons (2000) explores the idea of the flâneuse in a range of novels by women about cities in which the female characters draw their identity from the urban setting. The term has moved out of academic writing and novels. There is a Flâneur Foodhall in Clerkenwell where modern Londoners can buy gourmet specialities or eat guanaja chocolate cake with poached fruit in the restaurant. (And I do not know what guanaja is either.) This debate resurfaces in Chapter 7 but it runs throughout the book. Whatever image the sociologist has, whether flâneur, dull turnip, intrepid hero or deep thinker, women always have to ask: is this sociological identity a male only one, or is it available for women too? Clearly, women can be turnips: but can we be flâneuses, heroines or deep thinkers?

    My career has been a continual series of meetings at which I was the only woman, or one of a handful of women, who had to stand up and say: ‘You don't mean men/chaps/guys, you mean people’, ‘We don't want the best man for the job, you want the best person’, ‘That's an allmale platform party, we need a woman’, ‘We can't have an all-male committee/panel/team/board/collection/list: we must find some women’, ‘How many women have we elected?’, ‘Is that shortlist all men?’. The experience Lyn Lofland describes is entirely recognisable to me. She recalls attending an early meeting of the inner circle of the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction (SSSI) of which she was just about to become President.

    When I entered a private hotel room in New York to attend my first executive council meeting in 1980, the experience was very much that of the stranger intruding into a group of old friends; or perhaps a better analogy is of a girl wandering into the boys' locker room. Except for me, everyone in the room was male, and except for me, everyone in the room clearly knew everyone else. (1997: 136)

    Of course things have got much better during my career but I am still vigilant and wary.

    About four years after Lyn Lofland's presidency of the SSSI, Donna Darden became Secretary/Treasurer, a post she held for eight years. She writes:

    because of her presidency, and maybe because the world has changed a little, and because our members are mostly good people, my experiences as sometimes the only and sometimes one of the few women in a group of men were different from hers. I experienced the SSSI and its leadership not as a group of old boys with a tree house to keep me out of, but as a group of professionals. (1997: 99)

    An optimist would say that Darden is reporting a real change of climate in the SSSI. A cynic would say that doing all the routine drudgery of being Secretary/Treasurer is exactly what men like women doing, and Darden's labour was welcomed because she combined two grotty jobs. I am glad that Darden felt part of a collegial group, but I wonder if they read her publications. I hope that Donna Darden also gets read and cited by the boys in the treehouse. I want to be in the treehouse, and I want the knowledge treasured in that treehouse to be suffused with feminist ideas.

    The fourth dilemma concerns a temptation. For the past 15 years it has been more and more acceptable for sociology and anthropology to be written in non-academic ways, with poems, plays, dialogues, stories, and so on. I love the freedom this provides, and I have enjoyed indulging in the inclusion of fictional episodes in recent books and papers. They are useful for lightening difficult patches of hard ideas in books for students, for heightening tension, for emphasising the important passages. Dialogues are excellent for exploring places when I am ambivalent. However, I have decided to minimise fictions and poems in this book. There is one episode of dialogue in this Introduction and one in the Conclusion: and I have a few vignettes from the fictional university of Burminster which I have created to bring the changes of the past 30 years alive. I have eschewed poems altogether although I enjoy writing parody versions of poems (Delamont, 2000b).

    The fifth problem which arises in writing a book on feminist sociology is the most unmentionable. I write about it here with some trepidation, but it has to be said. Writing a feminist book exposes its author to the scorn and derision of most men (if they do not ignore it altogether), anti-feminist women by definition, and many other feminist women. Feminist academic life is characterised by cliques, schools, jealousies and arcane disputes. Every sentence of this book will be received with patronising scorn and howls of derision by some other feminists. As I sat writing this book watching England lose another Ashes series to Australia I did wonder why I was exposing myself to the critical gaze of my academic sisters. To be writing the only ‘feminist’ volume in the BSA series is a form of masochistic self-exposure akin to being the England No. 11 facing Shane Warne. Any reader who doubts the level of scorn that one feminist deploys on another can consult the disputes between Hekman (2000), Hartsock (2000), Harding (2000) and Smith (2000) or between Felski (2000) and Braidotti (2000).

    The sixth temptation concerns detective fiction, not only my leisure passion but, for me, a repository of feminist ideas. I have written elsewhere (Delamont, 1996b) about the feminist agenda in the novels of Sayers, Marsh and Allingham in the anti-feminist era of 1919–49. There is always a temptation to write about golden age or contemporary detective fiction and its feminist functions. However, I have eschewed it here. My analysis of the importance of Rachel Wallace in the novels of Robert Parker (1982, 1985), or of Rosa Gomez and Helen Soileau in those of James Lee Burke (1993, 1998) has been sidelined while I wrote this, apart from the chapter titles. I have reserved for another time my argument that in the detective story the two great patriarchal institutions, the family and the liberal professions, are routinely revealed to be not what they seem. Neither is the safe haven in which women can place their trust: rather they are institutions in which women need to be vigilant and wary.

    A Personal Note

    Feminist sociology was founded in the early days of the Third Wave of the feminist movement, when the two powerful slogans were ‘Sisterhood is powerful’ and ‘The personal is political’. Accordingly, I have concluded this chapter with a brief autobiography. I was born in 1947, went to a girls' grammar school, to Girton College Cambridge, did a PhD at Edinburgh and became an academic. My mother was a feminist, although her feminism does not map easily onto any of the current perspectives. I was a PhD student when the Third Wave broke over us, and I am an academic feminist not an activist. I have been marginally involved in a few campaigns, for nurseries, with Women's Aid, and for women's studies degrees. I did march to keep the 1967 Abortion Act, against Clause 28, and I stood outside several rugby grounds with Welsh Anti-Apartheid, but I did not go to Greenham. As a child I was a tomboy – I was a cowboy, a pirate, a sailor in Nelson's navy (we played Hornblower a lot). I did play with dolls, but mine went to school. They sat at desks and worked: their lives did not involve dressing up or having tea parties. At seven I decided to be a barrister, an ambition I only abandoned in the sixth form when all the men I knew reading law told me how bored they were and I discovered how much it would cost to be in chambers. As an adult, I dress like a 14-year-old girl's idea of a feminist, without make-up and usually in trousers. My career has also involved being the ‘First Woman to’ on three or four occasions. However, because I am childless (by choice) and a workaholic, I am not a useful role model for women who want to be mothers and bank managers.

    To conclude this Introduction, there is a note on the style of the text. Some of the language used in the book is colourful: I have written about silverbacks and treehouses, about the Gorgona, poisoned chalices and turnips, golems and flâneurs, rapiers to the heart, stags, locker rooms, blue meanies, chilly climates and sacred groves, and Monday morning quarterbacks. I also use an ornate vocabulary, which may send some readers to the dictionary to discover what I mean by sciolism, trivium and apolaustic. Also, in a very sparing way, I have used fictional characters. I have invented three fictional feminists in recent publications. They are Eowyn, an educational ethnographer; Sophonisba, a feminist historian; and Zenobia who was Eowyn's PhD student. Eowyn is named for the woman warrior in Lord of the Rings; Sophonisba is named for the pioneer sociologist in Chicago; and Zenobia for the third-century warrior queen of Palmyra. Eowyn and Sophonisba are two aspects of my scholarly identity, Zenobia is a device: a character who only exists to have Eowyn and Sophonisba explain things to her. Hers is a dull life: she serves a purely textual function. Eowyn is an ethnographer whose main aim has been to campaign for high standards in the qualitative research done in education and sociology. She sees herself as an ally of everyone else doing qualitative work, whether male or female, and her task is to defend qualitative work against its enemies. Virginia Olesen calls positivists ‘blue meanies’: Eowyn fights blue meanies. When qualitative research, or sociology of education is under attack, as they were in the late 1990s by James Tooley (1998) and Chris Woodhead (1998), she defends all ethnographers and all sociologists. Inside the charmed circle she is anti-positivist and sceptical about postmodernism. Eowyn wants people to go out and get good data, because there are so many aspects of social life about which we know nothing. Many of her intellectual allies and her friends are men, and Eowyn sees herself riding into battle in a largely male army: relatively few women have been active in qualitative educational research for 30 years.

    Sophonisba is an historian and a stronger feminist: her work is on girls' schools, women in universities, gender and science, feminism and sociology. These are areas in which very few men are interested, and the research is mainly of concern to a small number of feminist scholars. Sophonisba is frankly scared of postmodernism, because it threatens to sweep away all the gains of Third Wave feminism in the academy. First Wave feminism was destroyed, intellectually, by Freudianism. As the intelligentsia adopted Freudianism in the 1920s, it undermined, fatally, the moral authority and intellectual coherence of feminism. Sophonisba is worried that postmodernism could do the same to contemporary feminism, unless feminists learn to use its ideas and engage with them inside the frame of its discourse. Both Eowyn and Sophonisba have written this book although usually they do not write together. Eowyn writes empirical sociology and methods (e.g. Delamont, 2002a; Delamont et al., 2000a); Sophonisba writes ‘pure’ feminism (Delamont, 1989b, 1992a, 2002b). Hammersley (2001) has attacked my use of dialogue, I find it useful to dramatise ambivalence. Hammersley complains that an author who uses a dialogic format is hiding their own, true, evaluative voice behind a literary device, and is thus acting in bad faith by avoiding responsibility for their actions. His particular objection was to a book review where I had used a dialogue to explore one problem facing women academics. When one woman and one man are asked to write on the same topic, the women knows that if she does not write as a feminist, there will not be a feminist perspective. She may not want to write the feminist account, but if she does not, no one else will. This presents a dilemma between feminist duty and scholarly inclination. Hammersley attacked the device and, of course, complained that a feminist perspective was subjective and biased, while missing the point of the dialogue altogether.

    Leicester: April 2002

    The British Sociological Association is having its annual conference in Leicester. Sophonisba, Eowyn and Zenobia are having a curry in a restaurant opposite the station. Eowyn and Sophonisba have travelled down from Glasgow, Zenobia up from Kent. Eowyn passes the stuffed nan to Zenobia and says:

    Eowyn: Please remind me to do a really systematic trawl of the pub-lishers' exhibits: I need to find a new text to use for the gender course with the masters people. Can I have the daal?

    Zenobia: Sure, here: I heard Sara Delamont was writing one in the BSA Millennial series …

    Sophonisba: I wonder why they asked her: she's not very well known as a feminist.

    Zenobia: No – but then that means she's not really in one of the camps … not a Marxist, not a radical, not a postmodernist.

    Eowyn: I think she's a liberal feminist, and a symbolic interaction-ist. If it's out I'll look at it, it might do.

    Zenobia: I'm really nervous about my paper on Wednesday …

    Eowyn: Don't be. You'll be fine – I think it's a real argument – try this lentil pasanda – it's better than the one we used to eat in Sauchiehall Street …

    Sophonisba: Are you going to the ASA in Chicago?

    Eowyn: No – but I am going to Atlanta in 2003, I have promised the group from Northeastern that we'll present the stuff on chemistry technicians …

    Sophonisba: I've said I'll go to Atlanta too – the women doing the big biographical dictionary I've written for are having a bash to celebrate the centenary of Marion McLean's publication on sweat shops and asked us all to come.

    Zenobia: Atlanta – in August – Yuk! – you'll melt or fry: can I have the prawns, please?

    We will leave the three women in Leicester and rejoin them in the summer of 2003 at the end of the book.

  • Appendix One: A Critique of the Orthodox Histories of Sociology

    The history of sociology, as taught a century after it began in different industrialising countries, prioritises various scholars, but they are all men. Not only the three giants, Marx, Weber and Durkheim, but the supporting cast, are routinely presented as all-male. So, for example, two British scholars, Giddens (1971) and Hawthorn (1976) wrote histories of sociology, before the feminist sociologies had become prominent, which are only about founding fathers. Burford Rhea's (1981) American compilation The Future of the Sociological Classics covers Hobbes, Tönnies, Vico, Pareto, Simmel, Weber, Marx, Durkheim, Mead and Freud. Raymond Aron's (1965, 1967) French books Main Currents in Sociological Thought cover Comte, Montesquieu, Marx, Tocqueville, Pareto, Weber and Durkheim. German histories of sociology are similarly structured. In the history of sociology as written in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, students are taught that the founders of the discipline are all men, overwhelmingly European men. They are Italian, French, German or Austrian, rather than British or American.

    The maleness of the key scholars in the orthodox history of sociology is reinforced to novices by the sex of the authors who write about it. Giddens, Hawthorn, Rhea, and Aron are men. To offer a few examples of works that figure on student reading lists we can scrutinise Bottomore and Nisbet (1978a), Lee and Newby (1983), Collins (1994a, 1994b) and the series of short volumes in Oxford University Press's ‘Past Masters’ series, each of which introduce one key thinker. First, Bottomore and Nisbet (1978a), an edited collection called A History of Sociological Analysis, intended for advanced students in sociology, rather than complete novices. It has 17 chapters by 19 authors, only one by a woman (writing jointly with a man). Most of the chapters cover movements or schools of thought, such as ‘Structuralism’. These are written by experts on the leading historical figures in that tradition, and these leading historical figures are all men. So all the scholars discussed in the chapters on positivism, functional-ism, and structuralism are men. Furthermore, the authors of those chapters do not comment on their decision to characterise those schools of thought as being all-male. A novice reader cannot know whether there were any women, or that there were not, in that ‘school’.

    The male editors have not, themselves, challenged the ‘founding fathers’ idea of sociology, because although there is room for 17 intellectual movements, feminism was not one of them. Having decided not to include feminism as a sociological movement or school, the editors did not ‘police’ their contributors to thread feminist ideas throughout the 17 chapters either. The subject index has one entry on gender, directing the reader to a section in the chapter on stratification. Feminism is not an entry. Sexism is not an entry. Women is not an entry. The chapters on, for example, criticisms of positivism and on function-alism fail to address feminist critiques of these theoretical positions, although by the mid-1970s there were plenty of such criticisms around which could have been cited. In 703 pages of text, four pages deal with feminist sociology. The chapter on ‘German Sociology in the time of Max Weber’ (a man) is written by Freund (a man), ignores Helene and Marianne Weber and fails to cite feminist critiques of Weberian sociology. Alan Dawe (1978: 362) does mention Marianne Weber, but only as her husband's eulogist. The chapter by Wilbert Moore (1978) on functionalism is about Durkheim, Hobbes, Spencer, Parsons, Kingsley Davis, G.P. Murdock, Merton, Levy, Bales, Shils, and Smelser. Again, there are, apparently no women functionalists worth mentioning, nor are any feminist critiques of functionalism discussed. Bottomore and Nisbet (1978a) is a typical book on the history of the subject, designed for advanced students and collegial consultation, which showed no recognition of feminist ideas. Bottomore and Nisbet therefore uphold the founding fathers, malestream, history of sociology in four ways: (1) they recruit male authors; (2) they commission chapters on male scholars; (3) they omit to commission any chapter(s) on feminism or feminist sociologies; and (4) they do not require their contributors to include women sociologists in their chapters, or to address feminist critiques of the material they are presenting.

    Similar exclusionary practices characterise the authors and editors of texts used for introductory courses. A high quality introductory text, Lee and Newby (1983) offered Tönnies, Marx, Weber, Durkheim and a group they called evolutionists (Locke, Comte, Spencer, Morgan, Darwin and Veblen). Feminism appears as a critique of the various theories, but there are no founding mothers. A novice would be left thinking that the subject was created by men between 1770 and 1970, since when a few ‘feminists’ have criticised some of the ideas.

    Randall Collins (1994a, 1994b) catalogues four sociological traditions in a textbook with an accompanying reader. He distinguishes a ‘conflict’ tradition (Marx and Weber) from a Durkheimian one, plus a rational utilitarian and a microinteractionist tradition. In the accompanying reader, the conflict tradition is epitomised by Marx, Engels, Weber, Dahrendorf, Lenski and Collins himself (all men). The Reactional/Utilitarian section contains papers by Homans, March and Simon, Schelling, Olson, and Coleman (all men).

    The Microinteractionist tradition is illustrated by the work of Goffman, Meehan, Wood, Blumer, Mead, and Cooley (all men). In the Durkheimian portion of the book are contributions by Durkheim, Hubert, Mauss, Lévi-Strauss, Goffman, Hagstrom (all men) and Mary Douglas. In Collins's text (1994a) there are some discussions of women and of feminism, but they are not indexed, and a novice would not learn of the breadth and depth of female participation or feminist ideas in the discipline. Collins originally published his text in 1988, and while he has altered it for the 1994a version, it remains marooned in an all-male world.

    An alternative to the single text is the series of single volumes introducing concepts or individual authors. The Oxford University Press series ‘Past Masters’, which had published 67 titles by 1991, included six sociologists (loosely defined) Engels, Hobbes, Locke, Marx, Mill and Vico, with one more to come (Durkheim). All these men were written about by men. There were no female ‘Past Masters’ of sociology, and no sociological women authors. Again a novice could not find out whether there were any founding mothers. The Fontana series, ‘Modern Masters’, edited by Frank Kermode, had reached 37 titles by 1980, covering figures in the arts and social sciences. All the ‘masters’ were men: no woman was considered a modern master. Three of the authors were women.

    Subsequently Routledge had a series of short volumes called ‘Key Sociologists’. In 1987 it had 14 titles, 11 of which featured a single sociologist. Three covered a ‘school’: ‘Marx and Marxism’, ‘The Frankfurt School’ and ‘The Ethnomethodologists’. The 11 individuals featured were all men (Weber, Durkheim, Parsons, Freud, Mills, Simmel, Mannheim, Foucault, Goffman, Habermas and Merton). No woman was featured in the three books on ‘Schools’ either. For example, Sharrock and Anderson (1986) treat ethnomethodology as a largely male specialism, focusing on Cicourel, Sacks and Garfinkel. Gail Jefferson is the only woman important enough to be indexed. A few other women are cited, but not discussed as scholars (Candace West, Mary Rogers, Karin Knorr-Cetina). All the authors of all the books in the series up to 1986 were men. Subsequently Bourdieu was added to the series.

    The 1980s saw a growth in feminist sociology which might lead one to expect that volumes equivalent to the Bottomore and Nisbet (1978a) produced in the 1980s and 1990s would show change. However, this is not the case. In 1987 Giddens and Turner edited a volume called Social Theory and Modern Sociology. It has 12 chapters, by 12 men. Feminism is not a social theory, although there is a whole chapter on ethnomethodology. The index gives one reference for ‘feminists’ which directs the reader to Miliband on class analysis and his brief discussion of feminist critiques of such analyses. There is no index entry for gender. Entries on ‘sexism’ and ‘women’ send the reader to the same three pages as ‘feminists’. So, in 403 pages, there are three on feminist sociology. The Giddens and Turner volume was part of a Polity Press series ‘Social and Political Theory’. By 1987 it had 36 other volumes published and 11 ‘forthcoming’. Among the 47 were six with a woman author, and Bob Connell's Gender and Power. Three of the forthcoming books were to be by women. The Polity list included, in 1987, two of the most distinguished feminist sociologists in Britain (Sylvia Walby, Michèle Barrett). Yet, Giddens and Turner did not include Feminism as a theory in their compilation.

    Anderson et al. (1987) edited Classic Disputes in Sociology. It has eight chapters by men, and the classic debates were about space, official statistics, laws and explanations, the individual and society, the Protestant work ethic, class, capitalism, and the transition from rural to urban society. The editors pointed out that Marx, Durkheim and Weber ‘loom large in nearly every chapter’ (ibid.: x). The index does not include feminism, sexism or women. There are index entries for ‘gender’ (five of them) but none of the single page citations leads to a sustained analysis of gender. So the ‘classic disputes’ as seen in 1987 in Britain are not touched by feminist sociology at all.

    In 1988 Smelser edited an American Handbook of Sociology. There are 22 chapters by 33 authors, in four sections. Nine of the authors are women. The four sections focus on theory and method; inequalities; institutions and organisations; and change. Theory and method has all male authors, so does social process and change. In the theory and method section, Feminism is not discussed as a theory or a method. The index references to ‘Feminism’ and ‘Feminist theory’ send the reader to the empirical chapter on ‘Gender and sex roles’. There are 38 index entries for gender, which send the reader to the Gender chapter, or those on work or on medicine. None of the ‘gender’ entries refers to a theory or methods chapter. Sexism is not an index term. There are 12 index entries for women, all to empirical chapters on work, health, or the chapter on gender. Overall, therefore, although there are women authors in the handbook, the impact of feminism is ghettoised and absent from the high status sections.

    These compilations from the late 1980s show feminist ideas still absent, or ghettoised. Feminist sociology had not been ‘mainstreamed’ at all. Individual British theorists show a similar pattern. Craib's (1997) Classical Social Theory is only about men, and does not cover feminist ideas. In 1995 Barry Barnes published The Elements of Social Theory. Here he identified ‘those fundamental theories and ideas in social theory that currently possess the most plausibility’ (1995: vii). That is, these were the theories Barnes felt should be trusted, and used in future research. His chapters deal with Individualism, Functionalism, Interactionism and Knowledge in a section called Traditions; and then, in a section called ‘Social formations and social processes’, with status groups, social movements, social classes and administrative hierarchies. Feminism, gender, sexism and women are not indexed. There is no discussion at all of any issue raised by feminist sociology in the previous 20 years. Mary Douglas is the only woman cited, and her ideas are not discussed.

    The same year John Scott produced his Sociological Theory (1995). Scott announces that ‘Theory is fundamental to the whole sociological enterprise’ (ibid.: xii). His book does not index feminism or sexism or women. There are index entries for ‘gender divisions’ and for ‘gendered character of theory’. The latter takes the reader to a half-page on Mary Wollstonecraft. There are no citations to Barbara Adam, Michèle Barrett, Sylvia Walby, or Dorothy Smith. The discussion of the Chicago School of Sociology ignores Deegan (1988) whose feminist analysis of that tradition was the focus of Chapter 3. When Scott moves to more contemporary theories, the pattern continues. So his chapter on postmodernism ignores Butler, Flax and Lather. Scott's chapter on structuralism ignores Mary Douglas who is probably the most widely used structuralist theorist in the Anglophone world. Her ideas spread much further outside anthropology that those of Edmund Leach (Delamont, 1989b). Bauman's (2000) Liquid Modernity makes no mention of feminism, and has only six women in the bibliography.

    Despite 30 years of feminist critiques of the orthodox history of the discipline, the recent accounts share with those written in the 1960s an adherence to a simplistic and uncritical all-male grand narrative.

    Appendix Two: The Autobiographical Narratives

    This appendix lists the locations of the 23 American ‘silverback’ narratives analysed in Chapter 7, and the 22 female narratives discussed throughout the book.

    Table 1: Autobiographical narratives of male sociologists analysed
    ScholarLocation of autobiographyDate published
    George HomansAnnual Review of Sociology (ARS)1986
    Robert MertonARS1987
    David RiesmanARS1988
    Amos HawleyARS1992
    Lewis CoserARS1993
    Peter BlauARS1995
    Seymour M. LipsetARS1996
    William J. WilsonRiley1988
    Hubert BlalockRiley1988
    William SewellRiley1988
    Dennis WrongBerger1990
    James ColemanBerger1990
    Joseph GusfieldBerger1990
    Dean MacCannellBerger1990
    Andrew GreeleyBerger1990
    Herbert GansBerger1990
    Gary MarxBerger1990
    Donald CresseyBerger1990
    John GagnonBerger1990
    Nathan GlazerBerger1990
    Reinhard BendixBerger1990
    Bennett BergerBerger1990
    Erving GoffmanVerhoeven1992
    Total 23
    Table 2: Autobiographical narratives of female sociologists analysed
    ScholarLocation of autobiographyDate published
    Joan AckerLaslett and Thorne1997
    Sarah FenstermakerL & T1997
    Evelyn N. GlennL & T1997
    Barbara LaslettL & T1997
    Judith StaceyL & T1997
    Barrie ThorneL & T1997
    Arlene K. DanielsOrlans and Wallace1994
    Arlie R. HochschildO & W1994
    Ruth WallaceO & W1994
    Jackie WisemanO & W1994
    Suzanne KellerGoetting and Fenstermaker1995
    Helen M. HackerG & F1995
    Lynda L. HolmstromG & F1995
    Judy LongG & F1995
    Helen Z. LopataG & F1995
    Shulamit ReinharzG & F1995
    Pamela A. RobyG & F1995
    Coramae R. MannG & F1995
    Jessie BernardBerger1990
    Cynthia F. EpsteinBerger1990
    Alice S. RossiBerger1990
    Pepper SchwartzBerger1990
    Total 22

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