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Political Philosophy on Privacy - Dictionary of Arguments

Gaus I 279
Privacy/Political philosophy/Mottier: (...) there is considerable disagreement as to how precisely to conceptualize the boundaries of the state. As Susan Moller Okin (1991)(1) points out, political science tends to confuse different usages of the terms 'public' and 'private':
first, to refer to the distinction between state and society; and
second, to refer to the distinction between domestic and non-domestic spheres.
Privacy/politics/feminism: The new feminist movement of the 1970s made the contestation of the traditional separation between the spheres into a central issue of struggle, represented in the slogan 'the personal is political'. There have been many controversies about the exact meaning of this slogan. It was originally directed mainly at male socialist or radical activists, reminding them that the theoretical focus on capital and labour and the extension of the notion of politics ignored the gender inequalities at home (Phillips, 1998)(2). >Inequalities/Okin, >Privacy/Anne Philips.
Gaus I 280
Anne Philips/Iris Marion Young/Feminism: Both Phillips and Young build on Habermasian,
deliberative theories to advocate retaining the concept of the public sphere, where personal identities are shed to arrive at democratic decision-making through rational deliberation (...).
Cf. >Privacy/Elshtain.
Most feminist theory has currently moved towards similar arguments for maintaining some sort of demarcation between the two spheres while recognizing that the boundaries are relevant to mechanisms of exclusion of women from politics, and that normative political theory can bring
questions of justice and freedom to the domestic sphere. However, in contrast to Pateman's, Phillips's, Young's or Okin's positions on this point, the question of whether these spheres are separate, interdependent, or identical needs to be problematized in itself.
As Terrell Carver (1996)(3) points out, these two spheres are not simply pre-given, and the task
of political theory is not just to theorize their relations. These are sociopolitical constructs, the frontiers of which are regulated by the state. Joining others such as Robert Connell (1990)(4), Judith Squires (1994b)(5), or Chantal Mouffe (1992)(6), Carver draws the conclusion that it is precisely the process of construction of these spheres and their respective frontiers that needs examining since it is there that power issues operate. >Gender roles/Carver.


1. Okin, Susan Moller (1991) 'Gender, the public, the private'. In David Held, ed., Political Theory Today. Cambridge: Polity, 67—90.
2. Phillips, Anne (1998) 'Introduction'. In Anne Phillips, ed., Feminism and Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 67-90.
3. Carver, Terrell (1996) Gender Is Not a Synonym for Women. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.
4. Connell, Robert (1990) 'The state, gender and sexual politics'. Theory and Society, 19: 507-44.
5. Squires, Judith (1994b) 'Private lives, secluded places: privacy as political possibility'. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 12.
6. Mouffe, Chantal (1992) 'Feminism, citizenship and radical democratic politics'. In Judith Butler and Joan Scott, eds, Feminists Theorise the Political. New York: Routledge, 22-40.

Véronique Mottier 2004. „Feminism and Gender Theory: The Return of the State“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Political Philosophy
Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004


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