Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings

By Charles Lemert | Go to book overview
Save to active project

within it--professional or technical, for example--can enter into relations of antagonism with centres of power, within the state itself, which seek to restrict and deform them. None of this means to say, of course, that in certain cases the division between state and civil society cannot constitute the fundamental political line of demarcation: this is what happens when the state has been transformed into a bureaucratic excrescence imposed by force upon the rest of society, as in Eastern Europe, or in the Nicaragua of the Somozas, which was a dictatorship sustained by a military apparatus. At any event, it is clearly impossible to identify either the state or civil society a priori as the surface of emergence of democratic antagonisms. The same can be said when it is a question of determining the positive or negative character, from the point of view of the politics of the Left, of certain organizational forms. Let us consider, for example, the 'party' form. The party as a political institution can, in certain circumstances, be an instance of bureaucratic crystallization which acts as a brake upon mass movements; but in others it can be the organizer of dispersed and politically virgin masses, and can thus serve as an instrument for the expansion and deepening of democratic struggles. The important point is that inasmuch as the field of 'society in general' has disappeared as a valid framework of political analysis, there has also disappeared the possibility of establishing a general theory of politics on the basis of topographic categories--that is to say, of categories which fix in a permanent manner the meaning of certain contents as differences which can be located within a relational complex.❖

Nancy Hartsock teaches political science and women's studies at the University of Washington. Among her writings is Money, Sex, and Power. Toward a Feminist Historical Materialism ( 1984) and the important article "The Feminist Standpoint: Developing the Ground for a Specifically Feminist Historical Materialism" ( 1983). The selection is from her essay "Foucault on Power: A Theory for Women?" Here, Hartsock presents a nuanced standpoint response to Foucault, who has been a particularly troubling theorist for feminists. On the one hand, Foucault's deep critique of modernity and his theory of the diffusion of power throughout the micropolitics of modern society are thought to weaken the basis for informed political action. On the other, few social theorists have done more than Foucault to open consideration of sex and sexuality in social theory and research. Hence, he is sometimes considered a dangerous ally. Another well-known feminist response to Foucault is Nancy Fraser Unruly Practices: Power, Discourse and Gender in Contemporary Social Theory ( 1989). Hartsock's essay is in Linda Nicholson (ed.), Feminism/Postmodernism, which (along with Feminists Theorize the Political, edited by Judith Butler and Joan Scott in 1992) is an excellent source for the feminist debate on postmodernism.


Foucault on Power: A Theory for Women?

Nancy Hartsock( 1987)

To mention the power of women leads immediately to the problem of what is meant by "women." The problem of differences among women has been very prominent in the United States in recent years. We face the task of developing our understanding

____________________
Excerpt from Linda J. Nicholson, ed., Feminism/Postmodernism ( New York: Routledge, 1990), pp. 158-160, 161-168, 170-172.

-497-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 674

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?