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Gender Theory on State (Polity) - Dictionary of Arguments

Gaus I 278
State/Gender theory/Mottier: Initially, as Waylen (1998)(1) points out, gender theorists tended to view the state in primarily negative terms.
Socialists: Socialist feminists in particular integrated the oppression of women within the Marxist
perspective. They consequently saw the state as an instrument of domination in the hands of the ruling class, and emphasized the importance of the role of women in the reproduction of the workforce within the family for the development of capitalism.
Radical feminism: like socialist feminists, radical feminists such as Catharine MacKinnon also conceptualized the liberal state as a monolithic entity which institutionalizes the interests of dominant groups, particularly through the law; only this time the latter were not the bourgeois classes described by Marxist theorists but the category of male citizens. The liberal legal system, mainstream politics and the state were seen as instruments of the subordination of women to
men, and of the legitimization of male interests as the general interest. As MacKinnon put it, 'liberal legalism is thus a medium for making male dominance both invisible and legitimate by adopting the male point of view in law at the same time as it enforces that view on society' (1989(2): 237).
Institutionalization: within these approaches, the state was perceived above all as a patriarchal instrument which institutionalizes and reproduces male domination. From the late 1980s, such an understanding of the state has been challenged by a number of alternative perspectives.
The latter question,
1) (...) whether the impact of the state on gender relations should be conceptualized in negative terms only; and
2) (...) whether the state is adequately theorized as a homogeneous actor.
Ad 1): >Welfare state/Gender theory
Ad 2): >State/Poststructuralism.

1. Waylen, Georgina (1998) 'Gender, feminism and the state: an overview'. In Vicky Randall and Georgina Waylen, eds, Gende'; Politics and the State. London: Routledge, 1—17.
2. MacKinnon, Catharine (1989) Toward a Feminist Theory of the State. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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

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 [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Gender Theory
Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004

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