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The Subject of Liberty: Toward a Feminist Theory of Freedom / Edition 1
     

The Subject of Liberty: Toward a Feminist Theory of Freedom / Edition 1

by Nancy J. Hirschmann
 

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ISBN-10: 0691096252

ISBN-13: 9780691096254

Pub. Date: 09/03/2002

Publisher: Princeton University Press

This book reconsiders the dominant Western understandings of freedom through the lens of women's real-life experiences of domestic violence, welfare, and Islamic veiling. Nancy Hirschmann argues that the typical approach to freedom found in political philosophy severely reduces the concept's complexity, which is more fully revealed by taking such practical issues

Overview

This book reconsiders the dominant Western understandings of freedom through the lens of women's real-life experiences of domestic violence, welfare, and Islamic veiling. Nancy Hirschmann argues that the typical approach to freedom found in political philosophy severely reduces the concept's complexity, which is more fully revealed by taking such practical issues into account.

Hirschmann begins by arguing that the dominant Western understanding of freedom does not provide a conceptual vocabulary for accurately characterizing women's experiences. Often, free choice is assumed when women are in fact coerced—as when a battered woman who stays with her abuser out of fear or economic necessity is said to make this choice because it must not be so bad—and coercion is assumed when free choices are made—such as when Westerners assume that all veiled women are oppressed, even though many Islamic women view veiling as an important symbol of cultural identity.

Understanding the contexts in which choices arise and are made is central to understanding that freedom is socially constructed through systems of power such as patriarchy, capitalism, and race privilege. Social norms, practices, and language set the conditions within which choices are made, determine what options are available, and shape our individual subjectivity, desires, and self-understandings. Attending to the ways in which contexts construct us as "subjects" of liberty, Hirschmann argues, provides a firmer empirical and theoretical footing for understanding what freedom means and entails politically, intellectually, and socially.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691096254
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
09/03/2002
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
308
Sales rank:
1,220,888
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)

Related Subjects

Table of Contents

Preface ix
Acknowledgments xv
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION 1
A MasculinistTheory of Freedom? 3
Freedom as Political, Not Philosophical 14
Feminism and Freedom 23
Defining Feminism 30
Why Not Autonomy? 35
CHAPTER TWO: The Social Construction of Freedom in Historical Perspective 40
Locke: An Educated Freedom 41
Rousseau: A "Well-Regulated "Freedom 48
Kant: An Intelligible Freedom 55
Mill: A Utilitarian Freedom 62
Conclusion: A Masculinist Freedom 70
CHAPTER THREE: Feminism and Freedom: The Social Construction Paradox 75
Social Construction and Political Theory 77
Discourse and Reality 85
The Social Construction of Freedom 93
The Paradox of Social Construction 98
CHAPTER FOUR: Internal and External Restraint: The Case of Battered Women 103
Battering in Context 108
The Thin (Black and)Blue Line: Institutional Contexts 113
Constructing Violence 121
Reconstructing Freedom 131
CHAPTER FIVE: Welfare as a Problem for Freedom Theory 138
Women's Freedom and Discourses of Welfare 140
Freedom Theory and Conservative Discourse 146
The Social Construction of Welfare Subjects 154
Freedom, Care, and Welfare Rights 158
CHAPTER SIX: Eastern Veiling, Western Freedom? 170
"The Veil" as Discursive and Social Symbolization 175
Autonomy and Freedom in Contexts of Community 185
Feminism and Freedom: Cross-Cultural Possibilities 192
CHAPTER SEVEN: Toward a Feminist Theory of Freedom 199
Changing Contexts: The Contribution of Foucault 206
The Politics of Freedom 217
Changing Contexts: The Role of Equality 222
Constructing Feminist Freedom 233
Notes 239
Name Index 279
Subject Index 285

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