Strategically speaking: The problem of essentializing terms in feminist theory and feminist organizational talk [Book Review]

Human Studies 21 (3):235-257 (1998)
This paper examines the discursive construction of collective identity in several feminist organizations, as a way of shedding new light on the debate over essentializing or totalizing terms in contemporary feminist/postmodernist theory. We argue that while this debate is about language, it has remained largely untouched by the insights of a discursive approach. The latter as we take it up here treats language as irremediably strategic or interested. In contrast, the feminist argument over essentializing terms appears to hold to a correspondence version of language, a position which limits the debate in fatal ways. Part 1 reviews the argument that terms such as women, feminist and feminist identity are essentializing discourses which dominate by silencing difference. Part 2 then considers the way one such concept – feminist identity – is actually constructed and used in the routine talk of members of feminist organizations. In Part 3 we draw out the implications of a discursive approach to such terms for the feminist/postmodernist debate.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy   Modern Philosophy   Philosophy of the Social Sciences   Political Philosophy   Sociolinguistics
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1023/A:1005379625641
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 16,667
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Jane Flax (1992). The End of Innocence. In Judith Butler & Joan Wallach Scott (eds.), Feminists Theorize the Political. Routledge 445--63.
R. Coles (1991). Foucault's Dialogical Artistic Ethos. Theory, Culture and Society 8 (2):99-120.

View all 7 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

14 ( #184,535 of 1,727,204 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

3 ( #231,316 of 1,727,204 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.