Analyse And Assess The Contribution Of Feminist Research To Our Understanding Of Society

1978 words - 8 pages

Feminist research has become very popular over the past 30 years, which has helped our understanding society. This also means that women are seen as more important than before. Ray Pawson's research has helped our understanding of society as it describes the weak thesis. Eichler's non-sexist research has also helped our understanding of society. Ann Oakley and post-modern feminists perspective on society have also helped our understanding of society. Although feminist perspectives have helped our understanding of society it is useful to look at different perspectives such as functionalism and Marxism.Ray Pawson's research has helped our understanding of society as he distinguishes between ...view middle of the document...

Oakley finds this approach as clinical, manipulative, exploitive and hierarchal. Feminist methodology would replace this by a non-hierarchal relationship, with the researcher giving as well as receiving. This argues for a change in research methods, a new type of interviewing, rather than simply cleansing existing methods of sexism. It argues that research techniques are so full of male assumptions and practices, that they must be changed. These changes are not only morally correct, they will also result in better data.Post-modern feminism has also helped our understanding of society. Postmodernists believe that feminism is not a single perspective. In its early days, things were fairly simple. Women were the oppressed, men were the oppressors, the target was patriarchy and the aim was to liberate women. There was a tendency to see women as a single undifferentiated category. Groups of women objected to this approach, for example black women and lesbian women. They were women, although they argued their experiences and social situation distinguished them from women in general. As a result many of the generalisations about women did not apply or only partly applied to them. Post-modern feminism takes this argument a step further. It rejects the standard feminist 'grand story' of women as a homogeneous undifferentiated category, faced with an oppressive patriarchal system. It even rejects categories which subdivide the category women, such as black women, lesbian women and working class women. Post-modern feminists emphasise diversity and variation. They argue that research should be open to this diversity rather than approaching it with pre-set categories. Although this approach has helped our understanding of society it has been criticised by a number of feminists. Breaking down or rejecting the category 'women' prevents the possibility of making generalisations which apply to most or all women. It also blunts the force of feminist protest and threatens the unity of women as a group. Emphasising variation and uniqueness may lead to divide and conquer, so serving male dominance.There are other perspectives that have helped our understanding such as Karl Marx's perspective. There are three main features of his ideas these are; material conditions of production, which is a production of goods and services, the second idea is motor of social change is class conflict, this means that class conflict 'forces' change in society, the third idea is that people can scientifically identify the conditions in which society will change, in this idea Marx explains that a classless society would come about. For understanding society Marx describes his first idea about material conditions of production. In this idea he explains why we need production to stay alive, such as the production of clothing, food and shelter. Marx also states that there is a distinction between the base and superstructure in society. He describes the base as the force of production,...

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