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Learning from the Outsider Within: The Sociological Significance of Black Feminist Thought

Patricia Hill Collins
Social Problems
Vol. 33, No. 6, Special Theory Issue (Oct. - Dec., 1986), pp. S14-S32
DOI: 10.2307/800672
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/800672
Page Count: 19
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Learning from the Outsider Within: The Sociological Significance of Black Feminist Thought
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Abstract

Black women have long occupied marginal positions in academic settings. I argue that many Black female intellectuals have made creative use of their marginality--their "outsider within" status--to produce Black feminist thought that reflects a special standpoint on self, family, and society. I describe and explore the sociological significance of three characteristic themes in such thought: (1) Black women's self-definition and self-valuation; (2) the interlocking nature of oppression; and (3) the importance of Afro-American women's culture. After considering how Black women might draw upon these key themes as outsiders within to generate a distinctive standpoint on existing sociological paradigms, I conclude by suggesting that other sociologists would also benefit by placing greater trust in the creative potential of their own personal and cultural biographies.

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