Power and rule in society, especially the power and rule that constrain and coordinate the lives of women, operate through a problematic “move into transcendence” that provides accounts of social life as if it were possible to stand outside of it.Smith argued that the abstract concepts of sociology, at least in the way that it was taught at the time, only contributed to the problem.Key to patriarchy is what might be called the dominant gender ideology toward sexual differences: the assumption that physiological sex differences between males and females are related to differences in their character, behavior, and ability (i.e., their gender).
This topic has received much more attention from third wave scholars and activists.
Despite the variations between different types of feminist approach, there are four characteristics that are common to the feminist perspective: One of the keen sociological insights that emerged with the feminist perspective in sociology is that “the personal is political.” Many of the most immediate and fundamental experiences of social life—from childbirth to who washes the dishes to the experience of sexual violence—had simply been invisible or regarded as unimportant politically or socially.
Because of this micro level study, feminist theory is sometimes grouped with symbolic interactionism.
Feminist scholars study a range of topics, including sexual orientation, race, economic status, and nationality.
In the 1960s, the second wave feminism, also known as the women’s liberation movement, turned its attention to a broader range of inequalities, including those in the workplace, the family, and reproductive rights.
Currently, a third wave of feminism is criticizing the fact that the first two waves of feminism were dominated by white women from advanced capitalist societies.
The question that feminists ask therefore is: How does this distinction between male and female, and the attribution of different qualities to each, serve to organize our institutions (e.g., the family, law, the occupational structure, religious institutions, the division between public and private) and to perpetuate inequality between the sexes? There are considerable differences between types of feminism, however; for example, the differences often attributed to the first wave of feminism in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the second wave of feminism from the 1950s to the 1970s, and the third wave of feminism from the 1980s onward.
At the turn of the century, the first wave of feminism focused on official, political inequalities and fought for women’s suffrage.
Whereas conflict theory focuses broadly on the unequal distribution of power and resources, feminist sociology studies power in its relation to gender.