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Assess The Feminist View That Conventional Malestream Theories Are Inadequate For An Understanding Of Women In Society.

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Introduction

Assess The Feminist View That Conventional Malestream Theories Are Inadequate For An Understanding Of Women In Society. Feminism is divided into several different versions. However, they all share several common assumptions. They view society as patriarchal, that is, dominated by men. They see men as the most important source of women's oppression in society. For example, feminists see men as having the most power in the family. They have higher paid jobs and they monopolize the media and politics. The ultimate aim of all branches of feminism is to end male domination. To awaken society to the oppression of women and to eventually rid society of the exploitation of women. Furthermore, feminists' agree that until the late 1970's sociology has neglected to study women's issues and roles in society. Until recently men dominated sociology. The studies were conducted on men by men. The results were then generalised to the whole of society. Feminist felt this generalisation was inadequate in the representation of women. They called this male dominated sociology "malestream", a detrimental term, as opposed to mainstream. Inadequate representations include the role of gender in crime, inadequate research methods and a patriarchal view that biology determines the division of labour. ...read more.

Middle

Science and rationality are seen as male approaches to sociology and because they are the main research methods, feminist have seen this as another indication of male domination. By adopting a scientific approach, research tends to minimise women's views and concerns. Feminists have suggested that a specific women's methodology is needed to obtain a clear understanding of women's roles. Traditionally quantitive research methods are associated with positivism and objectivity. Feminists have called for a qualitative and subjective approach that is traditionally associated with interpretivism. Oakley (1981) proposed an alternative to the stringent conventional interview. She draws on her own experience of interviewing expectant mothers. She found that by becoming actively involved and treating the respondent's as friends, many of the women expressed an interest in her research and were keen to cooperate. She tried to make sure she did not exploit the women. She always asked permission to record the interview. She often helped them with housework and childcare. She discussed her own experiences with childbirth and offered her advice. By becoming actively involved and building a relationship with her subjects she found they were more likely to volunteer personal information. ...read more.

Conclusion

Furthermore, evidence from cross-cultural studies indicates that children do not need a close and intimate relationship with a female in order to thrive. To conclude, it is clear that since the second wave of feminism in the 1960's, studies into female criminology have increased. This is reflected in the increase of the female crime statistics. The problem with the statistics is they are ambiguous and depend on interpretation. However, it is clear that malestream studies into crime are inadequate on their own for a true representation of women in crime. Critics have accused feminist methodological results of having no real value because the emotional approach to the interview is too subjective. Nevertheless, as long as the researcher remains aware of this the feminist methodology is an accurate measurement of female emotional responses. This points to the malestream-structured interview as being inadequate for a representation of emotional responses. Finally, it is clear the biological explanation of the gender division of labour is inadequate to explain the role of women in society. Feminists have accused Murdock, Parson's and Bowlby of ignoring the fact that culture and socialisation determines a women's position in society. In Oakley's scathing attack on Parsons she accuses him of basing his theory on the myth of male superiority therefore, perpetuating the oppression of women. ...read more.

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