Women and the Birth of Sociology
Excerpt from: Patricia Madoo Lengermann & Jull Niebrugge-Brantley
The Women Founders: Sociology and Social Theory, 1830-1930
History as a social construction
Rising out of sociology discipline's power arrangements
Reflects ongoing conflict between:
o Exclusionary and Inclusionary values & practices
"Written out" vs. "Invisibility"
Distinguish between being "written out" versus being "invisible"
Being "written out": suggests being seen to have a presence - then being erased
Fir the 15 female sociologies examined in article:
o Argue case of erasure not invisibility
o How do we know it’s a case of erasure?
4 reasons why it is erasure rather than invisibility
1. Almost all well-known public figures in their lifetimes
o Larger than discipline of sociology - which just emerging
o Like forefathers - work relevant for all social sciences
2. Created social theory
o Women did sociology in the same time/places as male founders
3. Widely recognized by contemporaries - including men - as significant social analysts
4. All acted as members of sociological community
a. Worked as sociologists
b. Belongs to national sociological associations
c. Published work explicitly concerned with sociological principles
d. Identified themselves as sociologists
e. Recognized as such by contemporaries
Margrit Eichler (2001)
"Women Pioneers in Canadian Sociology: The effects of a politics of gender and a politics of knowledge."
Trying to reverse politics of erasure
Eichler looks at 24 introductory textbooks
o Published since 1991 - either Canadian or US origin but 'Canadianized'
Questions in Eichler's study:
1. To what degree have feminist scholars succeeded in challenging and altering the conventional
history of sociology?
2. Are early women sociologists as well as feminist scholars in general recognized as of general
3. To what degree has feminism re-shaped our understanding of general sociology?
Textbooks: "time lagged measures of the state of the discipline"
What changes from "holy sociological trinity" of Marx, Durkheim and Weber?
What included apart from "conventional list of 'dead white fathers'?" Context - 1800s
Sex roles rigidly defined - risk social disapproval for breaking out of social expectations
Women: wife & mother
Lack of opportunity outside household prevented most from obtaining higher education
Most women had no education beyond basic reading/writing - many not even that
Those who do make a mark in early years come from unusua