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carolyn.j's picture

Feminist Practice and Poststructuralist Theory, Chapters 1 & 2

Weedon, Chris.  Feminist Practice and Poststructuralist Theory.  2nd ed.  Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Ltd, 1997.  Print.

I began my readings for 10/7/2013 searching for various works by Hannah Arendt; after reading the analysis of her and Foucault the previous week, I was hoping to gain some further insight by reading some of her work first hand (I have already read a few pieces by Foucault).  However, what I ended up with from what I could find of hers available to me, and with little guidance as to what work would be most helpful (something I plan to reconsult the previous text about), what I ended up with was interesting but only barely relevant to what I'm pursuing here.  As such, I switched over to Chris Weedon's book, Feminist Practice and Poststructuralist Theory, and while it is not as directly connected to the work I did that week, it has been very elucidating in my larger goal of understanding the integration of feminist theory into political practice. 

The first two chapters of Weedon's book (what I got through for this week) address the need to formulate a theory that can account for the relationship between experience, social power, and resistance - something Weedon argues that the political lens of poststructuralism is well positioned to do.  Setting up feminism as a theory rooted in political movement, Weedon poses poststructuralism as a necessary additional lens to hold on feminism as politics and the need for tangible results that that requires, and mobilize a combined theory of feminist poststructuralism to develop a strategy of change to serve feminist interests.

In establishing the relevancy of poststructuralism to feminism, Weedon lays out the key principles of poststructural theory: language, Marxism, subjectivity and discourse.  Combining these conceptual elements with a feminist lens, then, produces a feminist poststructuralism that "is a mode of knowledge production which uses poststructuralist theories...to understand existing power relations and to identify areas and strategies for change" (40). 

While not necessarily directly applicable to my work at the level of my daily responsibilities, Weedon's union of feminist theory and the more concertedly politically-oriented poststructuralist theory appeals to the larger vision of the theoretical work I am pursuing alongside my time at the office.  At this stage of the book the discussion is still heavily philosophical and introductory, such that it is still somewhat difficult to usefully apply it to my organization's ideology and methodology.  However, the later sections of the book should become more application-oriented; as such, my intention is to continue my reading of Weedon's book alongside next week's reading, and hopefully then be able to consider my work and the organization through the lens of Weedon's feminist poststructuralism.

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