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Chapter readings 19

Sociology 2240E Chapter readings 19 : soc 2240e


Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOC 2240E
Professor
Robert Nonomura
Chapter
readings 19

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Dorothy E. Smith
Friday, April 27, 2018
9:00 PM
Smith's intellectual influences and core ideas
Known as one of the originators of standpoint theory, feminists use the term standpoint to
emphasize that what one knows is affected by where one stands in society
Smith's argument:
o No one can have complete objective knowledge
o No two people have exactly the same standpoint
o We must not take the standpoint from which we speak for granted instead we must
recognize it, be reflexive, and problematize it
Sociology was explicitly set out as the 'scientific and objective' study of society when it first
emerged as a discipline in the 19th century, but because its first practioners were almost
exclusively (white, middle class) men it implicitly assumed and reflected the relevancies and
perspectives
o This left sociologists unaware of biases and implicitly made the discipline of sociology a
masculine sociology
o This, erasing or ignoring women's world of sexual reproduction, children, household labour,
sociology unwittingly served as a vehicle for alienating women from their own lives
o Smith underscores not only that the standpoint of men is consistently privileged and that of
women devalued, but also the standpoint of the (white) male upper class pervades and
dominates other world views
Smith links a neo-Marxist concern about structures of domination with a phenomenological
emphasis on consciousness and the active construction of the taken-for-granted world
Smith's concept of bifurcation of consciousness refers to a separation or split between the world
as you experience it and the dominant view to which you must adapt (ex. The masculine point of
view)
o Reflects Smith's own experience of living in two worlds: the dominant masculine-oriented
'abstract' world of the sociologist, and the 'concrete' world of wife and mother
Social domination operates through texts that facilitate control
o Smith describes relations of ruling as including not only forms such as 'bureaucracy,
administration etc.' but also 'the complex discourses, scientific, technical, and cultural, that
intersect, interpenetrate, and coordinate' them
o Maintains that behind and within the 'apparently neutral and impersonal rationality of the
ruling apparatus' is concealed a 'male subtext'
o Sociology too relies on these same kinds of texts, it is part and parcel of the relations of
ruling
Sociological knowledge receives its shape less from actualities and the lived
experiences of real individuals than from the interest in control and regulation, by the
state, professional associations, and bureaucratization
Smith advocates a 'sociology for women that begins 'where women are situated'
o Smith calls her particular approach institutional ethnography: elucidating and examining the
relationship between everyday activities and experiences and larger institutional
imperatives
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