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Structural and Post-structural Approaches in Feminist Theory 1966-2006:
Shifts – Continuities – New Challenges

March 21-23, 2006

Deadline for application:
February 1, 2006

Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden

Prof. Anna G. Jónasdóttir, Örebro University, Sweden
Senior Lecturer Anette Borchorst, Aalborg University, Denmark
Prof. Sylvia Walby, Lancaster University, UK
Senior Lecturer Gunnel Karlsson, Örebro University

Prof. Anna G. Jónasdóttir - in collaboration with Research School leader Prof. Nina Lykke

Course description:
The aim of this course is threefold:
- to make a schematic overview of 40 years of social and political feminist theory, with a focus on macro-oriented, i. e. structural and institutional, approaches to gender relations and power, comparing these with feminist post-structuralism, assessing the impact of its shift “from society to subjectivity” and the theoretical and practical implications of its ambivalence about the usefulness of the concept of ‘gender’.

- to study more closely some attempts by social scientists and historians to theorize gender and power (in terms of patriarchy, gender order, gender regime or the like) as an analytically distinguishable, complex dimension of (historically changing culturally varying) societies and society-state relationships, raising both analytically descriptive, comparative and explanatory questions

- to look more specifically into two fields of state-related, political inquiry “in a global era”: on the one hand at feminist interventions into debates about the changing role and power of the nation-state and analyses of what multi-level polities (like EU) mean for gender (in)equality, and on the other hand the main challenges facing feminist scholars today in welfare state theory and research, for instance how different regimes of inequality as well as intersectionality are conceptualized in welfare state research.


Day 1
12-12.30: Registration/Lunch/Welcome
12.30-13: Students and teachers introduce themselves
13-16 (break included): “’To move on … it is necessary to move back’: Which structural analyses and explanatory theories of gender inequality are ‘now on offer’? Reflections from a realist point of view” by Anna G. Jónasdóttir

Taking the existing plurality of feminist theory as a point of departure the introductory lecture starts by asking why or how? How can we understand and deal with the history and contemporary state of diversity and divergence in the field of feminist theory? Which are the different branches in the first place, and where do they come from? Are they simply the result of different scholars asking different questions; having different aims or knowledge interests; belonging to different disciplines; or assuming different, and perhaps incompatible paradigmatic frames or research traditions? Can main shifts, like the one “from society to subjectivity”, as well as contestations over key concepts, as for instance “patriarchy”, “gender”, “women” and “interests” be understood and assessed by asking and answering this kind of questions? Also, if the aim is to “move on” with various modes of theorizing gender relations and power as a complex system, order or dimension of societies and society-state relationships, what then can we learn from looking at and comparing examples of structural and institutional approaches from the early years of feminist theory history as well as more recent ones?

16-18: Workshops: students¿ papers
18.30: Dinner

Day 2
9-12: (break included) “Complexity Theory and Transformations of Gender (In)equality. The Nature and Power of Polities in a Global Era” by Sylvia Walby

The theorisation of changes in gender relations in the contemporary era needs to engage with macro level changes such as processes associated with globalisation. This requires the development of a theory of gender relations as a system, intersecting with other systems of complex inequalities. Old conceptions of systems in feminist theory have been subject to criticism. Newer conceptualisations of the notion of system, drawing on complexity theory, have addressed these criticisms, producing new ways of conceptualising macro level change. The focus will be on the implications of these new theoretical approaches for the understanding of changing forms of gendered polities in a global era. This will also address the development of gendered concepts of nations, states and polities.

12-13.30: Lunch
13.30-15.30: Workshops: students¿ papers
15.30-16: Break
16-18: Workshops: students¿ papers
19.00: Dinner

Day 3
9-12 (break included): “Welfare state ‘modelling business’ and the intersection of gender inequality with other types of inequality” by Anette Borchorst

For several decades feminists have engaged in debates on gendering welfare state models. As part of the comparative welfare state tradition, they have addressed the question of, whether and how welfare states cluster in different models, and how politics, institutions and history interacts and strengthen trends towards either convergence or divergence. During the past couple of years, it has become apparent that the greying populations, multiculturalism and globalization represent common challenges to Western welfare states. An interesting question is how the intersection between gender, class and ethnicity, which has become a leading theme in this debate, is tackled at a macro level. The presentation addresses some of the recent attempts to conceptualize different regimes of inequality, and focuses at how intersectionality is conceptualized in welfare state research.

12-13: Lunch
13-15: Workshops: students¿ papers
15.00-16.00: Course evaluation

Borchorst, Anette & Siim, Birte (2002). ”The Women-Friendly Welfare States Revisited” in NORA Challenges to Gender Equality in the Nordic Welfare States, Vol. 10, No. 2, pp. 90-98 (9 pp).

Connell, Robert W. (1987) Gender and Power. Society, the Person and Sexual Politics. Cambridge: Polity Press. Part I, II, IV, (193 pp).
Connell, Robert W. (1990) “The State, Gender and Sexual Politics: Theory and Appraisal” in Theory and Society 19:507-544 (37 pp).

Gimenez, Martha E. (2001) “Marxism and Class, Gender and Race: Rethinking the Trilogy” in Race, Gender and Class, Vol. 8, No. 2, pp. 23-33 (10pp).
Hartmann, Heidi (1981) “The Unhappy Marriage of Marxism and Feminism: Towards a More Progressive Union”, in Sargent, Lydia (ed.) Women and Revolution. The Unhappy Marriage of Marxism and Feminism: A Debate on Class and Patriarchy. London: Pluto Press, pp 1-41 (41pp).

Hirdman, Yvonne (1998) “State Policy and Gender Contracts: The Swedish Experience” in Drew, Eileen, Emerek, Ruth & Mahon, Evelyn (eds.) Women, Work and the Family in Europe. London and New York: Routledge. (11 pp).

Hirdman, Yvonne (2004) “Modernity and Gender: A Conflict of Possibilities” in Lahtinen, Anu & Vainion-Korhonen, Kirsi (eds.) History and Change. Helsinki: SKS/Finnsih Literature Society. (11 pp).

Jonasdóttir, Anna G. (1994) Why Women Are Oppressed. Philadelphia: Temple University Press (or Jónasdóttir, Anna G. (1991) Love Power and Political Interests. Towards a Theory of Patriarchy in Contemporary Western Societies. Örebro University: Örebro Studies 7). Selected parts, (approx. 150 pp).

Jónasdóttir, Anna G. (forthcoming) “Feminist Questions, Marx’s Method, and the Actualization of ‘Love Power’” in DiStefano, Christine (ed.) Feminist Interpretations of Karl Marx. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press. (37 pp).

Kelly, Joan (1984) “The Social Relation of the Sexes. Methodological Implications of Women’s History” and “The Doubled Vision of Feminist Theory” in Women, History and Theory. The Essays of Joan Kelly. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press. (31 pp).

Korpi, Walter (2000) “Faces of inequality: Gender, Class, and Patterns of Inequalities in Different Types of Welfare States” in Social Politics, summer 2000, pp. 127-191 (64 pp).
Mahon, Rianne (2001) “Theorizing Welfare Regimes: Towards a Dialogue?” in Social Politics, spring 2001, pp. 24-35 (11 pp).

Mitchell, Juliet (1966/1984) “Women: The Longest Revolution”, in Women: The Longest Revolution. Essays in Feminism, Literature and Psychoanalysis. London: Virago Press, pp 17-54 (37 pp).
New, Caroline (1998) “Feminism and Critical Realism” in Alethia (The Newsletter of the International Association for Critical Realism), Vol. 1, Issue 1. (3 p).
Sassen, Saskia (1998) “Toward a Feminist Analytics of the Global Economy” in Globalization and Its Discontents. New York: The New Press. (28 p).
Segal, Lynne (1999) Why Feminism? Gender, Psychology, Politics. New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 1-8, 38-77, 200-232 (80pp).
Stabile, Carol A. (1997) “Feminism and the Ends of Postmodernism” in Hennessy, Rosemary & Ingraham, Chrys (eds.) Materialist Feminism. A Reader in Class, Difference and Women’s Lives. New York and London: Routledge. (14 pp).
Walby, Sylvia (1986) Patriarchy at Work. Patriarchal and Capitalist Relations in Employment. Cambridge: Polity Press, pp. 5-6 (2 pp).
Walby, Sylvia (1990) Theorizing Patriarchy. Oxford: Blackwell, chapter 1, pp. 1-24, and chapter 8, 173-201 (53 pp).
Walby, Sylvia (1999) “The new regulatory state: the social powers of the European Union”, British Journal of Sociology, 50, 1, pp. 118-140 (22 pp).
Walby, Sylvia (2000) “Gender, nation and state in an era of globalisation”, Nations and Nationalism, 6, 4, pp. 523-540 (17 pp).
Walby, Sylvia (2002) “Feminism in a global age”, Economy and Society, 31, 4, pp. 533-557 (24 pp).
Walby, Sylvia (2003) “The myth of the nation-state: Theorizing society and polities in a global era”, Sociology, 37, 1, pp. 531-548 (17 pp).
Walby, Sylvia (2003) “Modernities/globalisation/complexities”. Working Paper, Department of Sociology. Accessible at:
www.lancs.ac.uk/fss/sociology/papers/walby-modernitiesglobalisationcomplexities.pdf (19 pp.)
Walby, Sylvia (2004) “The European Union and Gender Equality: Emergent Varieties of Gender Regime”. Social Politics, Spring 2004, pp 4-29 (25 pp).
Walby, Sylvia (2005) “Gender mainstreaming: Productive tensions in theory and practice”, Social Politics, 12, 3, pp. 1-25 (25 pp).
Williams Fiona (1995) “Race/Ethnicity, Gender, and Class in Welfare States: A Framework for Comparative Analysis” in Social Politics, Summer 1995, pp. 127-159 (32pp).
Young, Brigitte (2001) “Globalization and Gender: A European Perspective” in Kelly, Rita Mae, Jane H. Baes, Mary E. Hawkesworth, Brigitte Young (eds) Gender, Globalization, & Democratization. Boulder/Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield. (20 pp).
Zalewski, Marysia (2000) Feminism After Postmodernism. Theorising Through Practise. London and New York: Routledge. Preface, pp. 1-28, 128-133 (33 pp).
(Altogether 1000 pages which is the required reading preparation for this course.)

Supplementary literature

Acker, Joan (2000). “Revisiting Class: Thinking from Gender, Race, and Organizations”, Social Politics, summer 2000, pp. 192-214.
Danermark, Berth, Mats Ekström, Liselotte Jakobsen, Jan Ch. Karlsson (2001) Explaining Society. An Introduction to Critical Realism. London: Taylor & Francis Ltd. Especially chapter 3 and 9.
Porpora, Douglas V. (1998) “Four Concepts of Social Structure” in Archer, Margaret et. al. (eds.) Critical Realism. Essential Readings. London and New York: Routledge. (16 p).

(A reader will be sent out containing the listed articles and some of the extracts from books. Connell¿s and Jónasdóttir¿s books are not included in the reader and must be bought or borrowed separately.)

23 applicants, 22 participants: Finland 5, Germany 1, Iceland 1, Lithuania 1, Norway 2, Sweden 10 (1 self-paying), Sweden/Poland 1 (self-paying), Sweden/Romania 1 (self-paying)

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Last updated: Mon Apr 11 13:28:29 CEST 2011