Feminism, Objectivity and Economics

Feminism, Objectivity and Economics

Feminism, Objectivity and Economics

Feminism, Objectivity and Economics

Synopsis

This book makes an important contribution to the current flourishing of this bold new field of feminist economic theory. It includes case studies in topics such as the theory of the family, income tax policy and macroeconomics.

Excerpt

This book is about the gender of the discipline of economics. the mainstream academic and professional discipline of economics, as currently practiced in Europe and North America, is built around distinctly masculine-biased notions of what is valuable. My proposal for a remedy, however, is not simply that there should be more women economists (although that would be a good thing). Nor is it that there should be more research on women’s issues (although that would be good, too). It is definitely not that women as a class do, or should do, economics in a manner different from men (a position with which I disagree). What is needed to overcome the masculine biases of the profession is a richer conception of human understanding and human identity. These less biased conceptions would broaden and improve the field of economics for both female and male practitioners, and for research on all issues.

Drawing on feminist scholarship regarding the social construction of gender categories and the social construction of science and the academic disciplines, Part I of this book examines the relationship between cultural conceptions of gender and value and the central defining features of contemporary mainstream economics. Gender, in this book, is primarily analyzed in terms of how it structures our cognition: that is, how the distinction masculine/feminine is metaphorically related to long lists of other characteristics and qualities. the culturally dominant conception of gender distinctions as hierarchical, with “masculine” on top, leads to high value being attributed to subjects and methods perceived as masculine, and a parallel devaluing of subjects and methods metaphorically associated with femininity. Science, for example, is associated with qualities like “hard” and “tough” (and masculine), in contrast to (inferior) feminine-associated qualities like “soft” or “emotional.” Chapter 1 explores the cognitive base of such thinking, and presents a tool, called a “gender-value compass,” for thinking about the relation of gender to value in a new way. This simple diagram allows for us to think of masculine- and feminine-associated qualities as having both

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