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Making a Difference

Making a Difference: Psychology and the Construction of Gender

Rachel T. Hare-Mustin
Jeanne Marecek
Copyright Date: 1990
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Making a Difference
    Book Description:

    Drawing on postmodernist skepticism about what we know and how we know it, and on recent developments in the philosophy of science and feminist theory, five leaders in feminist psychology offer a new perspective on the meaning of gender, one that is not determined by the traditional focus on male-female differences.

    "These brilliant and provocative essays step back from the trees-the millions of studies of sex and gender difference, non-differences, and meta-differences-and show us instead a way through the forest: the meanings and inventions of gender in modern life. This book is must reading for psychologists, but it is so lucidly written that scholars in other fields will profit from it as well. This is a terrific book."-Carol Tavris

    "This book deserves to be read, and reread, especially by those most resistant to feminist thought and ideology. . . . The gauge of genuine scholarship is the ability of a work to generate critical and empirical debate and to foster change. This new book does so, clearly and with power."-Choice

    "Beautifully written and argued essays by leaders in feminist theory and research. . . . The contributors offer exciting evidence that feminist challenges to old paradigms are beginning to transform our view of a gendered landscape into a peopled one."-Nia Lane Chester,Teachers College Record"This book . . . makes . . . significant theoretical issues accessible and relevant to the concerns and assumptions of most psychologists. . . . . Every feminist concerned with feminism and psycholoby should read [it]."-Mary Brown Parlee,Psychology of Women Quarterly

    eISBN: 978-0-300-15940-0
    Subjects: Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Rachel T. Hare-Mustin and Jeanne Marecek
  4. 1 On Making a Difference
    (pp. 1-21)

    From Aristotle’s time to the present, Western knowledge has been organized around a series of dualities and dichotomies. In Western society we easily slide into a focus on differences and dualities when we organize the world about us. Psychology is part of this tradition based on operations of comparing and contrasting. But to see both sides of a problem is the surest way to prevent its solution because there are always more than two sides.

    Difference does not exist in a vacuum. Our meanings derive from our interactions with the world and with one another. There is no world without...

  5. 2 Gender and the Meaning of Difference: Postmodernism and Psychology
    (pp. 22-64)

    Conventional meanings of gender typically focus on difference, emphasizing how women differ from men. These differences have furnished support for the norm of male superiority. Until recently, psychological inquiry into gender has held to the construction of gender as difference. Thus, psychologists have focused on documenting differences between men and women, and their findings have served as scientific justification for male-female inequality (Lott, 1985; Morawski, 1985; Shields, 1975; Weisstein, 1971). When we examine theories of psychotherapy, we find that they, too, have supported the cultural meanings of gender (Hare-Mustin, 1983).

    One recent line of inquiry by feminist psychologists has involved...

  6. 3 Dual Natures or Learned Behavior: The Challenge to Feminist Psychology
    (pp. 65-101)

    Feminist scholarship, an integration of research and theory that has accompanied the second wave of the twentieth-century women’s movement, has contributed to the enrichment and enlarged vision of the social sciences. In psychology, feminist scholars have insisted that the role played by sexist assumptions in the development of hypotheses and procedures be recognized, that research areas be expanded to include a focus on the life experiences of women, and that we study the consequences of patriarchy for personal development and social interaction. This feminist perspective in psychology has led to the asking of new questions; to the introduction of new...

  7. 4 Imperfect Reflections of Reality: Psychology Constructs Gender
    (pp. 102-149)

    More than ten years ago I suggested that the matter of sex differences was something of a red herring for feminist psychologists, that is, that questions about sex differences were notourquestions (Unger, 1979b). Such differences, however, have remained a major focus of psychologists interested in sex and gender despite numerous theoretical and methodological critiques. This chapter argues against the study of sex differences in light of recent developments in feminist theory and practice. I hope that this analysis and the others in this book will help us to understand why we keep asking questions about male-female differences and...

  8. 5 Toward the Unimagined: Feminism and Epistemology in Psychology
    (pp. 150-183)

    In spite of a sustained interest in questions of gender and a proliferation of empirical studies, there have been no fundamental changes in our conceptualization of gender. Psychological knowledge about gender continues to depend on core axioms of socialization, role acquisition, stereotypes, femininity, and masculinity. During the past fifteen years feminist perspectives have brought some methodological correctives (Lykes & Stewart, 1986); other than these, there have been no notable reformulations of our models of gendered behavior. In the face of the tremendous personal and intellectual challenges of feminism, the psychological perspective on and analysis of gender have remained unchanged, as have...

  9. 6 Beyond Difference
    (pp. 184-202)

    The categories of male and female have been central to Western thought, entering virtually every domain of human experience and structuring human relationships. Gender categories serve to label, define, and rank. Gender also serves as a metaphor invoked to explain variations in human endeavors and human entitlements.

    Like the culture of which it is part, the discipline of psychology also has used gender categories to organize human experience, as well as to define and rank individuals. Psychological theory and research have promoted the readiness of Western society to perceive its members as males and females rather than as individuals. Further,...

  10. Index
    (pp. 203-212)