Rethinking Theory


Peterson, V. Spike. 2012. “Rethinking Theory.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 14 (1): 5–35. doi:10.1080/14616742.2011.631276.

Author: V. Spike Peterson


‘Capitalist racist patriarchy’ is how Zillah Eisenstein (1998) characterizes global inequalities and the hierarchies of ‘difference’ they constitute. This article assumes that feminist theory aims not only to ‘empower women’ but to advance critical analyses of intersecting structural hierarchies; that this entails not only a critique of patriarchy but its complex conjunction with capitalism and racism; and that such critique requires rethinking theory. Through a critical lens on devalued (‘feminized’) informal work worldwide, the article explores how positivist, modernist and masculinist commitments variously operate in prevailing theories of informality – including those of feminists – with the effect of impeding both intersectional analyses and more adequate critiques of capitalist racist patriarchy. 

Keywords: critical theory, difference, feminism, feminist theory, gender, global political economy, informal economy, intersectionality, IR, masculinism, modernism

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Political Economies, Race

Year: 2012

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