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feminist theorya theory (see also FEMINISM) which, with the political and social changes of the 1960s and 70s, has challenged traditional conceptions of femininity and GENDER. As Humm (1989) points out, feminist theory ‘both challenges, and is shaped by the academy and society’. It has been, above all, characteristic of the explosion of recent theories, including the work of Hélène CIXOUS, Kate Millet (1970), Juliet Mitchell (1974), Sheila Rowbotham (1973) and many more, that these theories ‘describe the historical, psychological, sexual, and racial experiences of women’, not just academically, but as an indication of ‘how feminism can be a source of power’. Because of this, tensions have existed between feminist theory and sociology, especially given that it has challenged the fact that much sociology has been a sociology of men, stating mens viewpoints. But feminist theory, in so far as it is not always in itself sociology, has contributed to an important reconstruction of sociological perspectives in many areas.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000