Photo: Marco Gomes
Photo: Marco Gomes
Dorothy Smith helped to revolutionise sociological methods through feminist principles:
“A sociology for women would offer a knowledge of the social organisation & determinations of the properties & events of our directly experienced world.”
Smith helped pioneer feminist standpoint theory. She was writing at a time when sociology was dominated by positivist methods. Positivism describes the belief that sociology should mimic the scientific practices of the natural sciences. Central to this was the idea of objectivity as defined by detachment from the groups we studied.
Counter to this perspective Smith argues that sociologists needed to acknowledge that we bring our lifetime of social experiences into the field. She notes that our participants react to us in the same way: as gendered beings. While gender inequality is now central to our discipline this was not the case in the late-1980s when Smith was writing. Smith argued that sociology marginalised women’s knowledge. She advocated for qualitative research methods including interviews and ethnography that recognise and draw on women’s socialisation and their everyday experiences of domination.
“… Inequality is rising. This is not just a ‘moral’ issue but also an issue of too little consumption too little savings that is bad for global growth. It’s a bit like the Marxist idea that if profits grow too much compared to wages, there’s not going to be enough consumption, and capitalism is going to self destruct. The insight of Karl Marx is as useful today as it was 100 years ago.” – Nouriel Roubini at the World Economic Forum.
Happy International Women’s Day, colleagues!
“The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.” – Jane Addams, sociologist, was the second woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Read more
The President of the International Sociological Association (ISA), Professor Margaret Abraham, has addressed the Executive Order by USA President Donald Trump. The Order suspends visas to people born in seven Muslim-majority nations: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and Somalia. Professor Abraham writes in the ISA newsletter:
This ban is discriminatory, stigmatizing communities and people, and exacerbating forms of social exclusion of specific groups. Further, the ban adversely impacts knowledge production, prevents the free flow of academic exchanges and limits participation of sociologists in national and international conferences. Civil society members, individual academics, professional associations and communities nationally and internationally are responding by voicing their concern, opposing the ban, bringing legal challenges and supporting those affected.
Professor Abraham has a call to arms to sociologists to revive hope, inclusion and justice.
As we commiserate with our American colleagues on Inauguration Day 2017, may this courageous lady’s sign bring you some mirth and sociological comfort.
“If Karl Marx was alive he would say, I told you so.”
Photo: Pete Birkinshaw.