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Freedom, Recognition, and Obligation: A Feminist Approach to Political Theory

Nancy J. Hirschmann
The American Political Science Review
Vol. 83, No. 4 (Dec., 1989), pp. 1227-1244
DOI: 10.2307/1961666
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1961666
Page Count: 18
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Freedom, Recognition, and Obligation: A Feminist Approach to Political Theory
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Abstract

I argue that a feminist methodology can help liberal political theory get beyond the problems that it has been recycling since the seventeenth century. Taking political obligation as the focus for my analysis, I show how feminist psycho-analytic and psychological theory can help uncover the structural sexism of liberal theory and epistemology and point the way toward more consistent--and less biased--theoretical formulations. Rejecting the essentialist view of gender difference that has been attributed to this literature, I argue that it is more interesting and appropriate to read it as a symbolic language of power and as a heuristic device for uncovering the endered dimensions of supposedly "neutral" concepts like obligation.

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