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Micro-Politics: Agency in a Postfeminist Era

Patricia S. Mann
Copyright Date: 1994
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Offers a radical alternative to feminist identity politics. According to Mann’s bold and original analysis, our political agency is prior to our sense of identity today. Micro-Politics provides a framework in which hierarchies of race, sex, class, as well as gender are figured as contested sites of struggle in our everyday lives.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8423-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introductory Reflections
    (pp. 1-32)

    Like it or not, ours is an era that will be remembered for dramatic changes in basic social relationships, within families, workplaces, schools, and other public spheres of interaction. We negotiate these changes in the course of our day-to-day lives, usually without thinking about them in any systematic way. Indeed, it is difficult to achieve any sort of perspective on the dynamic societal picture of which we are part. In this book, I develop a theoretical framework intended to provide insight into our complicated nexus of social relationships. I formulated this theory of individual agency in response to gendered social...

  5. 1 Love and Injustice in Families
    (pp. 33-61)

    Women have made it to center stage in the historical drama. The problems of contemporary women in relation to work and family are society’s problems. From the feminization of poverty, to abortion and surrogacy, to sexual harassment, the new choices and responsibilities of women have created the need for major realignments at every level of our social institutions.¹ These problems are typically treated as practical political issues, however, and are rarely recognized as expressions of philosophically interesting changes in the human condition. There is even a tendency to believe that in stretching our categories and conceptual frameworks to deal with...

  6. 2 Glancing at Pornography: Recognizing Men
    (pp. 62-89)

    Pornography, like housework, may appear at first sight to warrant a quite straightforward feminist analysis. What woman has not suddenly felt herself the object of a humiliating, leering male gaze? When a radical-feminist antipornography movement developed in the late 1970s, anger in the face of this everyday modern female experience galvanized scores of women who had never before identified with feminist causes to join an emotioncharged crusade against the pornography industry’s sexual exploitation and degradation of women. At the height of the movement in 1983, two feminist theorists, Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin, drafted a human rights ordinance which declared...

  7. 3 Cyborgean Motherhood and Abortion
    (pp. 90-119)

    Abortion has become an important component of family planning practices of women worldwide over the last twenty-five years; as women’s reliance upon abortion has grown, political opposition and moral reaction have grown apace. Attacks on women’s reproductive freedom have been particularly loud recently within Eastern Europe, where the abortion rights of women are linked with a failed state socialism and threatened by a resurgent Catholic church. In the United States, President Clinton’s appointment of Ruth Ginsburg to the Supreme Court makes it unlikely thatRoe v. Wadewill be overturned, allowing states to again make abortion a crime. The millions...

  8. 4 A Genealogy of Individualism
    (pp. 120-155)

    Writing in the early decades of the twentieth century, John Dewey was already speculating that “vast social changes” associated with the machine age were making previous conceptions of morality and politics inadequate.¹ As we make our way through the last decade of the century it is difficult to avoid an even clearer sense that changes in dominant social narratives are afoot. Processes of social transformation within global structures of economics and nationhood as well as kinship have led to widespread practical and theoretical confusion. In the first three chapters of this book, I investigated sites of gendered conflict in the...

  9. 5 Agency and Politics in a Postfeminist Decade
    (pp. 156-207)

    Looking back, one of the most powerful components of Marx’s theory was his conception of class struggle. It was a vehicle of change, linking individual consciousness of capitalist oppression to a macro-political conception of the actions that would destroy it. By the 1970s, when I came to Marxist theory, the notion of class struggle was easy to criticize for its romantic simplifications of the problems of revolution, as well as for its failure to address gendered and other forms of oppression embedded within proletarian existence. The idea of an alternative female revolutionary subject was worth entertaining, but only briefly, its...

  10. Epilogue: Engaging on a Postfeminist Frontier
    (pp. 208-212)

    Postmodernism and postfeminism are both frontier discourses. They bring us to the edge of what we know, and encourage us to go beyond. But what sort of frontier is it? While we associate a geographical frontier like the nineteenth-century American West with an abandonment of the cultural trappings of “civilization,” medical frontiers today are reached by traversing the most sophisticated technologies. We reach the limits of knowledge and experience by many routes. Postfeminism is a cultural frontier resulting from the breakdown of previous social organizing structures that continue to exist only in various states of disarray. We have been propelled...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 213-244)
  12. Index
    (pp. 245-253)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 254-254)