Analysis of Sara Ahmed's Definition of Theory
1. Both Sara Ahmed and Chris Beasley propose definitions of theory.
a. Explain Ahmed’s definition of theory that she outlines in her discussion of feminist theory.
b. Explain Beasley’s definition of theory as is apparent in their proposed re-definition of the term “hegemonic masculinity”.
c. Building on these two authors, explain YOUR definition of theory (by “theory” I mean “theory in general” and not any specific theory such as liberal feminism or definitions of equality).
Use examples to strengthen your argument.
2. At the time of the 1789 French Revolution, two central concepts for the new political order were “the abstract individual” and “natural rights”. Since that time both the concept of rights and the notion of the kind of individual who holds those rights has evolved dramatically.
a) What was the “abstract individual”? How is the individual now defined within legal theory in response to criticisms of the abstract notion of the individual, especially by feminists?
b) What are “natural rights”? How has the concept of rights evolved and what are the categories of rights that we now (hopefully) enjoy?
c) In your opinion, should we continue to use the concept of “the abstract individual” and “natural rights”? Or should we use more contemporary definitions of the individual and rights? Or both? Explain using examples whenever necessary to support your answer.
3. Feminists whose work is influenced by Marxist traditions (including Marxist, socialist and materialist feminists), define difference in terms of class and/or a relation that can be understood as analogous to a class relation. Difference feminists (including maternal feminists and cultural feminists), define difference in terms of the body.
a) Explain the Marxist understanding of class and the ways that feminist have used and/or expanded on this term to include gender and race-ethnicity.
b) Explain difference feminists’ view of difference and its relation to the body.
c) In your opinion, which of these two ways of thinking about difference is best or are they both important from a feminist perspective? Give supporting examples to justify your answer.
4. In her introduction to feminist debates around citizenship, Lister tells us that some feminists support an “explicitly gender-differentiated mode” of citizenship (page 62), and gives a number of different examples throughout her article on what this might mean.
In her essay “The question of the other”, Irigaray argues for “the necessity of specific rights for women” (page 132), which is linked to her notion of “a culture of two”.
a) Explain what Lister means by “a gender-differentiated mode of citizenship”, giving examples to make this clear.
b) Define Irigaray’s concept of “a culture of two” and explain what she means by “specific rights for women”.
c) In your opinion, are these two notions the same, different, or overlapping to some degree?