The Conceptual Practices of Power: A Feminist Sociology of Knowledge

Front Cover
University of Toronto Press, 1990 - Social Science - 235 pages
0 Reviews

Sociologists generate idology instead of knowledge - particularly where women are concerned. By starting with the theoretical formulations of their discipline and then interpreting people's activities as expressions of those ideas, sociologists both participate in and perpetuate society's traditional power relations.

So argues Dorothy E. Smith in this provocative study of her own discipline and its relationship to women's lives.

While acknowledging that social science is ideological, Smith argues that for sociologists idology affects methods of inquiry and transforms what actually happens in people's lives into a formalized picture that lacks subjectiveness. She explicates the need for an alternative sociology that better explores everyday experience, suggesting a Marxist materialist ideology, and emphasizing that ideology is not content but practice.

Smith is especially concerned with the application of sociological ideology to the human service bureaucracy and the way institutions of mental health reconstruct women's lives. She provides meticulous accounts of the ways in with police reports, governments statistics, hospital records, and psychiatric files and ideologically interpreted, transforming a person's life history in the process. In a reveatory chapter on biographer Quentin Bell's exploration of Virginia Woolf's suicide, Smith demonstrates once again how the professional who claims to report an event acurrately also shapes it.

Highly critical of current sociological practice, she also hopes that alternative appraoches will change the discipline.

 

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

Womens Experience as a Radical
10
The Ideological Practice of Sociology
31
The Social Organization of Textual
60
Textual Realities Ruling and
82
The Statistics on Women and Mental
106
Textual
140
Ideological Methods of Reading
176
Conclusion
199
NOTES
207
BIBLIOGRAPHY
223
INDEX
231
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (1990)

DOROTHY E. SMITH is Professor in Sociology at OISE/UT. She is the author of The Everyday World as Problematic: A Feminist Sociology (UTP 1988) and The Conceptual Practices of Power (UTP 1990)

Bibliographic information