Resemblances of identity: Ludwig Wittgenstein and contemporary feminist legal theory

Res Publica 12 (2):137-162 (2006)
In a context in which there is manifest multiplicity in women’s daily lives, feminists have struggled to identify what it uniquely means to be a woman, without falling prey to charges of essentialism. Conscious, however, of the role which collective gender identity plays in providing coherence and motivation to feminist activity, a number of theorists have sought to find a way to retain group cohesion in the face of internal diversity. In this article, the merits and demerits of pre-existing attempts in this regard will be discussed. Having done so, an alternative approach, which builds on Wittgenstein’s concept of ‘family resemblances’, will be put forward and defended.
Keywords difference  essentialism  feminism  identity  Wittgenstein
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