Sociology - Theories Feminists and Term Paper

  • Length: 12 pages
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  • Subject: Sociology
  • Type: Term Paper
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(Frazer 8) to this end she develops the categories of "affirmation" and "transformation." In understanding Frazer's view it is imperative to bear in mind that older regimes of theory cannot achieve the synthesis that she is looking for and that new and more creative modes of political and social theory are necessary.

In essence what Fraser suggests is that in order to overcome this antimony between redistribution and recognition and to avoid the various reductive theories that have previously been put forward, she suggests a synthesis of various aspect of both critical theory as well as post -structural and deconstructive theory. In her view this would serve to overcome the false separation of these two central political and social elements.

In the final analysis Frazer's theory is based on a number of interrelated views. The first is that, " the redistribution - recognition dilemma is real" (Fraser 13). Secondly, Frazer notes that this dilemma can be "softened" by the search for perspectives and theoretical approaches that "...minimize conflicts between redistribution and recognition in cases where both must be pursued simultaneously" (Fraser 13). Importantly in this analysis is that various facets of the redistribution - recognition dilemma cut across and intersects with one another.

As a result and in conclusion, Fraser does not posit a vague or ephemeral solution to this problem but one which interrogates and attempts to find a theoretical locus that is based in pragmatic reality. In this regard she alludes to the combination of socialism and deconstruction as a theoretical basis to the central question of justice for all.

3. The politics of difference and multiculturalism and the Eurocentrism of social theory.

One of the central critiques of disciplines in the humanities that occurred in the latter part of the twentieth century was the critique of Eurocentrism. Simply stated, this refers to the process of European expansionism that the conquest of the world by countries like Great Britain and the subsequent colonialism that accompanied these events. As many theorists have pointed out, this was not only colonization of territory but also of identity and the mind.

The central concern and critique of Eurocentrism is that certain modes of thought and perceptions about reality, society, culture and identity were favored and promoted by the colonialists. In sociological terms this refers to the way that modern reality was constructed. This had the result that the question of multiculturalism and identity were ignored or subsumed under the hegemony of the dominant Eurocentric culture. This in turn led to modernist and postmodern deconstructions and interrogations of this cultural as well as social hegemony. This critique also extends to the various disciplines such as sociology and social theory, which were also interrogated and critiqued for their inherent Eurocentric biases - particularly in the area of cultural identity and difference.

These aspects resulted in a vigorous debate about the question of identity and especially cultural identity and to the use of phrases such as a 'crisis of identity' in the contemporary world; where the old social categories of identity were "breaking down" with the increase in interrogative deconstructions of previous hegemonies. (Modernity and its Futures)

This has also led to what is termed a fragmentation of identity in the post-modern world. This fragmentation also refers in a historic sense to the difference between the holistic and integrated concept of identity that was dominant during the period of the Enlightenment, and to the loss of centre in the postmodern subject. The "sociological subject " refers to the realization that Individual identity is not homogenous and static but is affected and in fact constructed or shaped by the dynamics of society and social change. (Modernity and its Futures) This in turn resulted in the concept of the fragmented subject and the notion of identity as shifting and changing in terms of context. As a result, in recent years one encounters the postmodern concept of identity as having no fixed centre of certainty. In the parlance of postmodernism, the subject is de-centered and identity becomes an amorphous quality.

This brief overview has obvious consequences for the understanding of concepts such as race and gender. Modern theoretical analysis can also be used to interrogate these terms and in the critique of hegemony; for example, in Marxist theory where the capitalist mode of thought is analyzed and society is seen in terms of production and the alienation of labor as well as its effects on individual identity..

The writing of W.E.B. Du Bois and his 1903 treatise the Souls of Black Folk, is an example of this modern quest for identity and the way that Eurocentric hegemony has created a need for a reassessment of Black or Negro identity. In this work the author explores the identity of the Black men or women. For example, he notes that, "The history of the American Negro is the history of strife - this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self" (Du Bois 324).

The above quotation is a telling viewpoint which refers essentially to the desire to establish a Black identity in the face of the hegemonic distortion and displacement that has occurred as a result of Eurocentric domination and the imposition of Eurocentric models of reality and culture. It is also significant that Du Bois notes that the Negro does not want to do away with his older and more traditional sense of identify. (Du Bois 324) in this regard he also refers to the way that Eurocentrism and colonialism overrode and subdued the cultural history and integrity of the Black civilizations. This is an important factor in the way that the Eurocentric and colonial cultures have denied the innate identity of the Black man and woman.

Related to the above discussion is the work of Stuart Hall. One of the central concerns of this theorist is the way that that culture and identity are determined and constructed via the media. In other words, he is concerned with the way that self and identity are 'produced' and to a great extent controlled by the media. This also brings to bear the critique of those who control and manipulate the media and also highlights the fight for multicultural identify in the face of uniformity in our modern societies.

Hall bases his work on what is fundamentally a Marxist theoretical approach and on the analysis and deconstruction of the hegemony that ideology and the media have in terms of the Eurocentric manipulation and control of identity. This also deals with the role of the media as upholding and generating a view of reality which supports the ruling class or dominant ideology.

4. Globalization

Globalization is a modern phenomenon that is generally described as a process whereby the boundaries between nation and countries in fact dissolve and which in effect connects and allows for the interaction between communities on a new and unique basis. While is it not the purpose of this section to outline the complexities globalization, reference to certain theoretical aspects of this term are important in order to answer the central question that is being asked. In this respect it is important to note that globalization allows for new modes of interaction and new "space-time combinations" (Hall, 619). This mean that in term of social theory this phenomenon is seen in the first instance by some theorists to challenges classical social theory and upset older theoretical models of how society is constructed and functions.

In terms of classical social theory therefore, the phenomenon of globalization present a number of challenges. One of the most obvious is that much of social theory is based on the view that societies are relatively isolated and integral to themselves. This view if challenged by according to many theorists with the advent of globalization theory.

In the Follies of Globalisation Theory: Polemical Essays, by Justin Rosenberg, the author also begins by expressing the view that the term globalization has far-reaching implications for social theory. He notes that many theorists view globalization theory as placing classic social theory into contention and even questioning the concept of 'society'. (Rosenberg 1)

However, Rosenberg is also of the opinion that globalization theory which attempts to rearrange and reformulate classical theoretical aspects, is to a large extent misguided and he explores the 'fallacy" in globalization theory.

Rosenberg accepts rather a theory of globalization, in contradistinction to globalization theory, where the emphasis is on the study of the extension and development of new forms of social interaction and contact between different nations and states. This view in fact" falls back" or relates to basic social theory to explain the new phenomenon. (Rosenberg 2)

He therefore distinguishes between a theory of globalization and globalization theory and deconstructs and critiques some of the basic assumptions in globalization theory. Central to his argument, he states that the term globalization is in the first instance a descriptive…

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