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PG19-22 Feminist Theory Overview

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32 Questions

What is the main belief that all forms of feminist theory share?

Contemporary societies are patriarchal.

What does cultural power in a male-dominated society focus on?

Oppression and exploitation of women.

Which form of feminism sees sexual discrimination as a key form of control?

Liberal feminism

How does Marxist feminism view the context in which female oppression occurs?

Through class inequality.

What aspect of capitalist society encourages men to exploit women's market position according to the text?

'Weaknesses' in female workforce participation.

What does radical feminism see as the source of female oppression?


According to radical feminists, where do women carry out the majority of unpaid domestic work?

In the home

How do interactionists believe that order and control are created in society?

From the bottom up

What did Garfinkel's (1967) study demonstrate about beliefs regarding social order?

Beliefs about social order are deeply ingrained

According to interactionists, why is order more psychologically desirable than disorder?

Because people try to impose order through meanings given to behavior

How do interactionists propose we should study human behavior?

By studying people's interactions at the micro level

What does Schutz (1962) argue about subjective meanings and the social world?

Subjective meanings create an objective social world

According to interactionists, how are societies constructed?

Through individual behaviors and interactions

According to the passage, what is the main idea behind the concept of structuration?

It emphasizes the importance of both structure and action in understanding the relationship between society and the individual.

What does the passage suggest about the meaning of behavior in social interaction?

The meaning of behavior can change depending on its social context.

According to the passage, what is the role of social resources and power relationships in Giddens' theory of structuration?

They determine which social structures are created and accepted by individuals.

According to the concept of labelling theory mentioned in the passage, how do labels influence behavior?

Labels are associated with a set of characteristics that guide our behavior and attitudes towards the labeled entity.

According to the passage, what is the relationship between individual actions and the creation of social structures?

Individual actions contribute to the development and formalization of social structures over time.

According to the passage, what is the role of agencies of socialization in shaping individual behavior?

They act as agencies of social control, applying pressure to make people conform to social expectations.

Which of the following statements best represents Wrong's critique of the 'over-socialised conception of man'?

He rejects the idea that human behavior is governed solely by the effects of socialization.

According to the passage, what is the relationship between social interaction and the meaning of society?

The idea of society is a label we give to social interaction, suggesting that society is the product of social interaction.

According to the passage, what is an example of a social rule that is negotiated between individuals?

The unwritten rules that govern friendships.

According to the passage, how have female social identities changed in Western societies over the past 50 years?

There is now a wider range of definitions for female identity, reflecting changing ideas about equality and perceptions of women.

According to the passage, what are the two basic forms of social controls?

Formal controls and informal controls

What is the purpose of positive sanctions, as described in the passage?

To make people behave in routine, predictable ways

Which of the following is NOT listed as an example of a negative sanction in the passage?

Praise and encouragement

According to the passage, what is the main purpose of formal controls?

To tell everyone within a group exactly what is and is not acceptable behavior

What is the main difference between formal and informal controls, as described in the passage?

All of the above

According to the passage, what is the main reason why individuals conform to social expectations?

All of the above

Which of the following is NOT mentioned in the passage as an example of a negative sanction?

Giving gifts

According to the passage, what is the main purpose of informal controls?

Both B and C

What is the main idea of the concept of "social exchange" as discussed in the passage?

People give to others (material goods, status, or approval) because this creates a relationship with joint obligations

Study Notes

Social Interaction and Society

  • Social interaction is based on shared definitions of a situation, which can be negotiated and may change depending on social context.
  • Human behavior is not governed entirely by socialization, and individuals have a degree of freedom from social environment influences.

Labelling Theory

  • Labelling theory argues that when we name something, we associate it with a set of characteristics that guide behavior.
  • Meanings can change over time, such as the changing definitions of male and female social identities over the past 50 years.
  • Examples include the shift from a woman being defined by marriage, motherhood, and caring for others, to a wider range of definitions, such as the single career woman.


  • Structuration is the idea that as people develop relationships, rules are formalized into routine behaviors towards each other (practices).
  • Through practices, a sense of structure develops in our social world, involving rules that become externalized and influencing individual behavior.
  • Rules can be negotiated (e.g., friendship) or imposed by powerful groups (e.g., laws governing punishments).

Conformity and Social Expectations

  • Most people conform to social expectations due to factors such as sanctions, social pressure, self-interest, and social exchange.
  • Agencies of socialization (family, peers, education, media, religion) and specialized agencies of social control (police, legal system) apply pressure to make people act in certain ways.
  • Individuals conform because it is in their own interests to do so, and to avoid negative sanctions (e.g., ostracism).

Feminist Theory

  • Feminist theories share the belief that contemporary societies are patriarchal, with male power expressed in physical and cultural forms of control.
  • Different types of feminism emphasize different forms of control, such as sexual discrimination, class inequality, and patriarchy.


  • Interactionism is a microsociological approach that claims order and control are created "from the bottom up" through daily routines and interactions.
  • People create and re-create society through their individual and combined behavior, creating a sense of order and stability.
  • Meanings are negotiated and can change, and people act as though society is a real force influencing their behavior.

Social Controls

  • Social controls take two forms: formal (written rules, laws, and organizational rules) and informal (unwritten rules, such as those in family or casual groups).
  • Sanctions can be positive (rewards) or negative (punishments), and are enforced by agencies of social control.

Explore the key concepts of feminist theory, which critique the patriarchal nature of societies and the imbalance of power between men and women. Learn about the different forms of power, including interpersonal and cultural, that maintain male dominance in various contexts.

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