Feminism and the problem of individualism

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Abstract
Feminism needs to develop a greater awareness of the ways in which references to individuals operate to disguise relations of ruling by focusing only on attributes of individuals, at the expense of any acknowledgement of the existence of the social structures of domination. This present paper is devoted to discussing some feminist attempts to theorise individualism, pointing out that, although they have important things to say about the problem, they do not go far enough, both because they equivocate on the question of male domination and because they fail to give an explicit account of ‘the individual’ appropriate for the feminism. I acknowledge that feminism does contain an implicit account of a form of genuine individuality, but that there is still a strong propensity for feminism to fall back into individualism in the pernicious sense. I point to a number of ways in which that can be overcome, and conclude by arguing that, while care must be taken to avoid the ideological aspects of the liberal notion of ‘the individual’, it still has its uses for a feminism concerned with a human status for women.
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Thompson, Denise
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Publication Year
1997
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Working Paper
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