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Explanation and Emancipation in Marxism and Feminism

Erik Olin Wright
Sociological Theory
Vol. 11, No. 1 (Mar., 1993), pp. 39-54
DOI: 10.2307/201979
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/201979
Page Count: 16
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Explanation and Emancipation in Marxism and Feminism
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Abstract

This paper explores a contrast between the Marxist and feminist traditions of emancipatory social theory: whereas in the Marxist tradition theorists have spent considerable time and energy discussing the problem of the viability of classlessness as an emancipatory project, feminists have spent relatively little time defending the viability of a society without male domination. The paper argues that this difference in preoccupations reflects, at least to some extent, differences in the relationship between prefigurative egalitarian micro experiences and macro institutional change with respect to gender oppression and class oppression. The paper also explores the implications of this contrast for the kinds of explanatory theory developed within the two traditions. Marxists' greater tendency than feminists to seek relatively deterministic accounts of the demise of the form of oppression on which they focus is viewed as at least partially a way of contending with the difficulty in establishing the viability of the emancipatory project of classlessness.

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