SOC 101 Lecture Notes - Black Feminist Thought, Queer Theory, Antonio Gramsci
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Modern Social Theory
Should not be thought of as complete separate from classical theories
Drawn on the work that has come before
Theme of power and how power is used runs through modern theories
o Western Marxism
o Feminist theories
o Post structuralism
o Queer theory
o Post colonial theory
o Anti racist theories
More independent and critical form of Marxism
Forms of Marxism that emerged after the 1920s
Helped found communist party of Italy
How do we all comply and buy into a system in which most of us are victimized?
Diverged from Marx in his analysis of how the ruling class rules
o Marx said the ruling class ruled through force and coercion.
o Gramsci focused more on the ideological control and manipulation
According to Gramsci, two different forms of political control: domination and hegemony.
o Domination: direct physical and violent coercion exerted by police and military to maintain
boundaries and enforce rules
o Hegemony: ideological control and consent. Means a society's dominant ideas reflect
interests of the ruling class and help mask social inequalities.
**Note: must involve consent; no regime is able to maintain rule by relying on an
organized state and armed force. Regime must have allegiance of the people to have
Separates Marx's superstructure into the state (coercive institutions like police, military,
government), and civil society (schools, media, religion).
o Focused on role civil society plays in establishing hegemony. Through the civil society,
consciousness becomes internalized by population and appears as common sense
Believed hegemony was not static, is constantly negotiated and renegotiated. Consent secured by
ruling class is an active consent. Ruling class must constantly incorporate elements of the
subordinates’ class' culture so the subordinate class never feels wholly oppressed by ruling class
Didn’t show up until 1970s to 1980s
Concern is for gender oppression. Some are radical and see inequality everywhere, some don't, but
all believe men have engineered society to control women
o Theories vary in explanation of women's oppression, the nature of gender and ideas of
Argue that women and men should be equal in every way: rights, job opportunities, roles
Men have social power and this interest in maintaining their social privilege over women. Feminist
theories offer view of the world from a position of a socially disadvantaged group.
Canadian sociologist, produced for women
Sociology was developed by men. In order to understand the social life of women, a sociological
approach must be developed for women
Believed classical sociological theories were androcentric. Interested in a sociology that can explain
to anyone, man or woman, how their lives take the form they do.
Wanted sociology to provide an understanding of how an individual's everyday world is organized
and determined by social relations within that world and beyond it.
The Everyday World As Problematic
o Begins in the 'actualities' of people's lives and addresses problems or how we are influence by
"extra local" relations
o Extra local relations: relations that extend beyond the local, immediate setting.
o Must understand what is going on in people's everyday lives. Reality is constituted through
discourse (socially organized activity among people).
o Must look at the standpoint: understand their world through their eyes, subject is an active,
experiencing person that cannot be removed from relations with others.
o Believes the everyday world is the starting point of inquiry, it is the world we experience
directly. It is organized by social relations neither entirely apparent nor contained within it.
Argued that educational system exploits women:
o Children go home and have to do homework, mom usually reminds the child to do their
homework and help their child.
o If you add up the hours that moms spend supplementing what the school is supposed to do it
adds up to hours of unpaid labour
Her concept of ruling is a socially organized exercise of power that shapes peoples’ lives.
o Ruling relations are abstract, conceptual and extra locally organized relations of state,
professions, corporations etc
o Ruling relations exist in a generalized form and works to coordinate what people do
World is constructed by complex and extended social relations that are connections between
o The social is the sum of complex relationships among people in multiple sites.
Approach is neither macrosociological nor microsociological. Wants to show people how the
relations of ruling shape their lives