Gender and critical realism: a critique of Sayer

Holmwood, John (2001) Gender and critical realism: a critique of Sayer. Sociology, 35 (4). p. 19. ISSN 00380385

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In a recent article in this journal, Andrew Sayer has argued that much feminist research on the gendered nature of organisations, such as bureaucracy and the market, confuses a contingent association of gender and organisational forms with a stronger claim that they are intrinsically gendered. Sayer accepts that this research has shown that the empirically found, concrete forms of organisations are gendered. However, deeper theoretical reflection, he suggests, reveals that, when considered as `abstract realist models', bureaucracy and the market are, in fact, identity-blind. He makes two claims, one concerned with explanation, the other concerned with the political consequences of social inquiry. The first is that the construction of abstract models, rather than the `associational' thinking concerned with the delineation of empirical regularities, is necessary to the proper understanding of the operation of causal mechanisms and their mode of determination in social life. The second is that this will enable a more progressive and positive politics beyond a fatalism which he attributes to associational thinking. This paper takes issue with both claims arguing that the abstract theory he defends has no positive role in social inquiry and that his political critique is misplaced.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Sociology
Depositing User: EPrints Services
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 20:37
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2012 09:32
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