sociology as a ‘female preserve’

academica, reading

In theory class last week we discussed Harriet Martineau at some length. (She fits in perfectly after teaching Durkheim and before Veblen.) My students are intrigued by the ideal that Durkheim borrowed her ideas, since she was writing about similar epistemological and substantive topics and because the French version of her translation of Comte’s Positivist Sociology (even Comte preferred it over his own) could have been in his hot hands at Ecole Normale Superieure: she translated it in 1851 and he was at the school by 1879. Also, her How to Observe Morals and Manners was written in 1838, well before Emile’s Rules of Sociological Method (1895). I could not prove or disprove such suspicions, so if anyone knows of anything, feel free to let me know.

Relatedly, perhaps, there’s a provocative article that came out last month on the ‘feminization of sociology,’  (and I found an earlier one on the related ‘decline’ of the discipline). I’m not sure about the word choice here, but it is assuredly better than other forms of describing it (e.g., ‘female zoo,’ ‘female ghetto,’ ‘female asylum’).

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