⌚ Define Cultural Imperialism
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Cultural Imperialism (In Our Time)
The constitutive conception of power, by contrast, focuses on the fundamentally transindividual and relational ways in which individuals and the social worlds they inhabit are themselves constituted by power relations. The roots of this constitutive conception can be traced back to Spinoza a and b , and also found in the work of more contemporary theorists such as Arendt and Foucault. What accounts for the highly contested nature of the concept of power? One explanation is that how we conceptualize power is shaped by the political and theoretical interests that we bring to the study of power Lukes , Said For example, democratic theorists are interested in different things when they study power than are social movement theorists or critical race theorists or postcolonial theorists, and so on.
On this view, if we suppose that feminists who are interested in power are interested in understanding and critiquing gender-based relations of domination and subordination as these intersect with other axes of oppression and thinking about how such relations can be transformed through individual and collective resistance, then we would conclude that specific conceptions of power should be evaluated in terms of how well they enable feminists to fulfill those aims.
Lukes suggests another, more radical, explanation for the essentially contested nature of the concept of power: our conceptions of power are, according to him, themselves shaped by power relations. It may contribute to their continued functioning, or it may unmask their principles of operation, whose effectiveness is increased by their being hidden from view. The thought that conceptions of power are themselves shaped by power relations is behind the claim, made by many feminists, that the influential conception of power as power-over is itself a product of male domination for further discussion, see section 4 below.
Those who conceptualize power as a resource understand it as a positive social good that is currently unequally distributed amongst women and men. For feminists who understand power in this way, the goal is to redistribute this resource so that women will have power equal to men. The conception of power as a resource can be found in the work of some liberal feminists Mill , Okin For example, in Justice, Gender, and the Family , Susan Moller Okin argues that the contemporary gender-structured family unjustly distributes the benefits and burdens of familial life amongst husbands and wives. Here, Okin seems to presuppose that power is a resource that is unequally and unjustly distributed between men and women; hence, one of the goals of feminism would be to redistribute this resource in more equitable ways.
First, Young maintains that it is wrong to think of power as a kind of stuff that can be possessed; on her view, power is a relation, not a thing that can be distributed or redistributed. Second, she claims that the distributive model tends to presuppose a dyadic, atomistic understanding of power; as a result, it fails to illuminate the broader social, institutional and structural contexts that shape individual relations of power.
According to Young, this makes the distributive model unhelpful for understanding the structural features of domination. Third, the distributive model conceives of power statically, as a pattern of distribution, whereas Young, following Foucault , claims that power exists only in action, and thus must be understood dynamically, as existing in ongoing processes or interactions. Finally, Young argues that the distributive model of power tends to view domination as the concentration of power in the hands of a few. According to Young, although this model might be appropriate for some forms of domination, it is not appropriate for the forms that domination takes in contemporary industrial societies such as the United States Young a, 31— In the following section, I discuss the specific ways in which feminists with different political and philosophical commitments — influenced by phenomenology, radical feminism, socialist feminism, intersectional feminism, post-structuralism, and analytic philosophy — have conceptualized domination.
Beauvoir argues that whereas men have assumed the status of the transcendent subject, women have been relegated to the status of the immanent Other. This downfall represents a moral fault if the subject consents to it; if it is inflicted upon him, it spells frustration and oppression. Although Beauvoir suggests that women are partly responsible for submitting to the status of the Other in order to avoid the anguish of authentic existence hence, they are in bad faith see Beauvoir xxvii , she maintains that women are oppressed because they are compelled to assume the status of the Other, doomed to immanence xxxv.
She notes that girls and women often fail to use fully the spatial potential of their bodies for example, they throw like girls , they try not to take up too much space, and they tend to approach physical activity tentatively and uncertainly Young b, — Young argues that feminine bodily comportment, movement, and spatial orientation exhibit the same tension between transcendence and immanence that Beauvoir diagnoses in The Second Sex.
And yet women are also subjects, and, thus, cannot think of themselves as mere bodily objects. Feminists have also mined the work of Edmund Husserl, the founder of phenomenology, for useful resources for feminist phenomenology Al-Saji and Oksala This means that there is always a gap between our personal experience and the linguistic representations that we employ to make sense of that experience, and it is this gap that provides the space for contestation and critique. For further feminist-phenomenological analyses of domination see Bartky , , Bordo , and Kruks For recent overviews of the current state of the art in feminist phenomenology, see Fisher and Embree , and Heinamaa and Rodemeyer For a highly influential articulation of queer phenomenology, drawing on the work of Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and Fanon, see Ahmed For a compelling phenomenological analysis of transgender, see Salamon For example, in the work of legal theorist Catharine MacKinnon, domination is closely bound up with her understanding of gender difference.
According to MacKinnon, gender difference is simply the reified effect of domination. If gender difference is itself a function of domination, then the implication is that men are powerful and women are powerless by definition. In this passage, MacKinnon glosses over the distinction, articulated by many second-wave feminists, between sex — the biologically rooted traits that make one male or female, traits that are often presumed to be natural and immutable — and gender — the socially and culturally rooted, hence contingent and mutable, traits, characteristics, dispositions, and practices that make one a woman or a man. If men are powerful and women powerless as such, then male domination is, on this view, pervasive.
As a result, she tends to presuppose a dyadic conception of domination, according to which individual women are subject to the will of individual men. Marilyn Frye likewise offers a radical feminist analysis of power that seems to presuppose a dyadic model of domination. Frye identifies several faces of power, one of the most important of which is access.
For this reason, Frye maintains that all feminism that is worth the name entails some form of separatism. In addition to access, Frye discusses definition as another, related, face of power. Under conditions of subordination, women typically do not have the power to define the terms of their situation, but by controlling access, Frye argues, they can begin to assert control over their own self-definition.
Both of these — controlling access and definition — are ways of taking power. According to the traditional Marxist account of power, domination is understood on the model of class exploitation; domination results from the capitalist appropriation of the surplus value that is produced by the workers. Young calls instead for a more unified theory, a truly feminist historical materialism that would offer a critique of society and social relations of power as a whole.
In a later essay, Young offers a more systematic analysis of oppression, an analysis that is grounded in her earlier call for a comprehensive socialist feminism. The first three faces of oppression in this list expand on the Marxist account of economic exploitation, and the last two go beyond that account, bringing out other aspects of oppression that are not well explained in economic terms. According to Young, being subject to any one of these forms of power is sufficient to call a group oppressed, but most oppressed groups in the United States experience more than one of these forms of power, and some experience all five Young , Nancy Hartsock offers a different vision of feminist historical materialism in her book Money, Sex, and Power : Toward a Feminist Historical Materialism This applies, in her view, to theories of power as well.
Thus, she criticizes theories of power in mainstream political science for presupposing a market model of economic relations — a model that understands the economy primarily in terms of exchange, which is how it appears from the perspective of the ruling class rather than in terms of production, which is how it appears from the perspective of the worker. She also argues that power and domination have consistently been associated with masculinity. The goal of theories of intersectionality is to develop a single framework for analyzing power that encompasses sexism, racism, class oppression, heterosexism, and other axes of oppression in their complex interconnections.
The project of intersectional feminism grew out of black feminism, which as scholars have recently noted, has a long tradition of examining the interconnections between racism and sexism, stretching back to the writing and activism of 19th century black feminists such as Maria W. Stewart, Ida. In other words, the concept of intersectionality has a long history and a complex genealogy for an account of that genealogy, see Collins But the contemporary discussion and use of the term intersectionality was sparked by the work of legal theorist Kimberle Crenshaw Crenshaw a and b , specifically, by her critique of single-axis frameworks for understanding domination in the context of legal discrimination.
A single-axis framework treats race and gender as mutually exclusive categories of experience. In so doing, such a framework implicitly privileges the perspective of the most privileged members of oppressed groups — sex or class-privileged blacks in race discrimination cases; race or class-privileged women in sex discrimination cases. Thus, a single-axis framework distorts the experiences of black women, who are simultaneously subject to multiple and intersecting forms of subordination. Moreover, intersectionality is not without its feminist critics. Some proponents of intersectionality have suggested that the concept is limited in that it focuses primarily on the action-theoretical level.
A full analysis of the intertwining of racial, gender, and class-based subordination also requires, on this view, a systemic or macro-level concept that corresponds to the concept of intersectionality. This is the model describing the social structures that create social positions. Second, the notion of intersectionality describes micro-level processes — namely, how each individual and group occupies a social position within interlocking structures of oppression described by the metaphor of intersectionality. Other proponents of intersectionality have worried that discussions of intersectionality tend to focus too much on relations and sites of oppression and subordination, without also taking into account relations of privilege and dominance.
In response to this concern, philosophers such as Ann Garry have offered a broader, more inclusive conception of intersectionality that emphasizes both oppression and privilege see Garry Rather than supplementing the notion of intersectionality with a macro-level concept of interlocking systems of oppression or broadening it to include relations of oppression and privilege, Naomi Zack argues that feminists should move beyond it. Zack maintains that intersectionality undermines its own goal of making feminism more inclusive. From a very different perspective, queer feminists Lynne Huffer and Jasbir Puar have also criticized intersectionality as a theory of identity.
Finally, Anna Carastathis has argued that the problem with intersectionality theory lies in its very success Carastathis and In response to these sorts of criticisms of intersectionality, some scholars have attempted to reformulate the concept either as a family resemblance concept Garry or by highlighting its provisionality Carastathis, Others have argued for an expansion of the intersectional framework to better account for the experiences of diasporic subjects Sheth or for a rethinking of this framework in relation to a Deleuzian notion of assemblage Puar and Most of the work on power done by post-structuralist feminists has been inspired by Foucault.
In his middle period works Foucault , , and , Foucault analyzes modern power as a mobile and constantly shifting set of force relations that emerge from every social interaction and thus pervade the social body. It also, according to Foucault, produces subjects. According to Foucault, modern power subjects individuals, in both senses of the term; it simultaneously creates them as subjects by subjecting them to power. I will concentrate on highlighting a few central issues from this rich and diverse body of scholarship. Several of the most prominent Foucaultian-feminist analyses of power draw on his account of disciplinary power in order to critically analyze normative femininity.
In Discipline and Punish , Foucault analyzes the disciplinary practices that were developed in prisons, schools, and factories in the 18th century — including minute regulations of bodily movements, obsessively detailed time schedules, and surveillance techniques — and how these practices shape the bodies of prisoners, students and workers into docile bodies , — The woman who checks her make-up half a dozen times a day to see if her foundation has caked or her mascara run, who worries that the wind or rain may spoil her hairdo, who looks frequently to see if her stocking have bagged at the ankle, or who, feeling fat, monitors everything she eats, has become, just as surely as the inmate in the Panopticon, a self-policing subject, a self committed to relentless self-surveillance.
As Susan Bordo points out, this model of self-surveillance does not adequately illuminate all forms of female subordination — all too often women are actually compelled into submission by means of physical force, economic coercion, or emotional manipulation. Juridical notions of power appear to regulate political life in purely negative terms….. In Bodies that Matter , Butler extends this analysis to consider the impact of subjection on the bodily materiality of the subject. Thus, for Butler, power understood as subjection is implicated in the process of determining which bodies come to matter, whose lives are livable and whose deaths grievable. In The Psychic Life of Power , Butler expands further on the Foucaultian notion of subjection, bringing it into dialogue with a Freudian account of the psyche.
In the introduction to that text, Butler notes that subjection is a paradoxical form of power. Although Butler credits Foucault with recognizing the fundamentally ambivalent character of subjection, she also argues that he does not offer an account of the specific mechanisms by which the subjected subject is formed. For this, Butler maintains, we need an analysis of the psychic form that power takes, for only such an analysis can illuminate the passionate attachment to power that is characteristic of subjection. In his writings on power, Foucault seems to eschew normative categories, preferring instead to describe the way that power functions in local practices and to argue for the appropriate methodology for studying power. He even seems to suggest that such normative notions as autonomy, legitimacy, sovereignty, and so forth, are themselves effects of modern power this point has been contested recently in the literature on Foucault; see Allen a and Oksala Thus, for example, although Foucault claims that power is always accompanied by resistance, Fraser argues that he cannot explain why domination ought to be resisted.
Other feminists have criticized the Foucaultian claim that the subject is an effect of power. Hartsock makes two related arguments against Foucault. First, she argues that his analysis of power is not a theory for women because it does not examine power from the epistemological point of view of the subordinated; in her view, Foucault analyzes power from the perspective of the colonizer, rather than the colonized Despite these and other trenchant feminist critiques of Foucault see, for example, Hekman, ed. For example, in her book, Analyzing Oppression , Ann Cudd draws on the framework of rational choice theory to analyze oppression for related work on rational choice theory and power, see Dowding and ; for critical discussion, see Allen c.
Cudd defines oppression in terms of four conditions: 1 the group condition, which states that individuals are subjected to unjust treatment because of their membership or ascribed membership in certain social groups Cudd , 21 ; 2 the harm condition, which stipulates that individuals are systematically and unfairly harmed as a result of such membership Cudd , 21 ; 3 the coercion condition, which specifies that the harms that those individuals suffer are brought about through unjustified coercion Cudd , 22 ; and 4 the privilege condition, which states that such coercive, group-based harms count as oppression only when there exist other social groups who derive a reciprocal privilege or benefit from that unjust harm Cudd , 22— Any satisfactory answer to this question must draw on a combination of empirical, social-scientific research and normative philosophical theorizing, inasmuch as a theory of oppression is an explanatory theory of a normative concept Cudd , That oppression is a normative — rather than a purely descriptive — concept is evident from the fact that it is defined as an unjust or unfair set of power relations.
Cudd argues that social-theoretical frameworks such as functionalism, psychoanalysis, and evolutionary psychology are inadequate for theorizing oppression Cudd , 39— Structural rational choice theory, in her view, best meets reasonable criteria of explanatory adequacy and therefore provides the best social-theoretical framework for analyzing oppression. Having made this distinction, Haslanger then argues for a mixed analysis of oppression that does not attempt to reduce agent oppression to structural oppression or vice versa. Haslanger also connects her account of structural domination and oppression to her analysis of gender.
Other things -- such as norms, identities, symbols, etc -- are then gendered in relation to those social relations. On her analysis, gender categories are defined in terms of how one is socially positioned with respect to a broad complex of oppressive relations between groups that are distinguished from one another by means of sexual difference see By claiming that women are oppressed as women, Haslanger reiterates an earlier claim made by radical feminists such as Catharine MacKinnon see, for example, MacKinnon , Up to this point, much of this entry has focused, as does much of the feminist literature on this topic, on power understood in terms of an oppressive or unjust power-over relationship.
However, a significant strand of feminist theorizing of power starts with the contention that the conception of power as power-over, domination, or control is implicitly masculinist. In order to avoid such masculinist connotations, many feminists from a variety of theoretical backgrounds have argued for a reconceptualization of power as a capacity or ability, specifically, the capacity to empower or transform oneself and others. Thus, these feminists have tended to understood power not as power-over but as power-to. Wartenberg argues that this feminist understanding of power, which he calls transformative power, is actually a type of power-over, albeit one that is distinct from domination because it aims at empowering those over whom it is exercised.
However, most of the feminists who embrace this transformative or empowerment-based conception of power explicitly define it as an ability or capacity and present it as an alternative to putatively masculine notions of power-over. This conception of power as transformative and empowering is also a prominent theme in lesbian feminism and ecofeminism. Hartsock finds it significant that the theme of power as capacity or empowerment has been so prominent in the work of women who have written about power. Although this movement has had more influence in mainstream media and culture than in academia -- indeed, in many ways it can be read as a critique of academic feminism -- it has also sparked scholarly debate. In contrast, power feminists endorse a more individualistic, self-assertive, even aggressive conception of empowerment, one that tends to define empowerment in terms of individual choice with little concern for the contexts within which choices are made or the options from which women are able to choose.
In order to prompt such a rethinking, Caputi turns to the resources of the early Frankfurt School of critical theory and to the work of Jacques Derrida. Focusing on empowerment in the context of international development practice, Khader develops a deliberative perfectionist account of adaptive preferences. This allows her to acknowledge the psychological effects of oppression working through the mechanism of IAPs without denying the possibility of agency on the part of the oppressed.
Khader draws on her deliberative perfectionist account of IAPs to diagnose and move beyond certain controversies over the notion of empowerment that have emerged in feminist development practice and theorizing. While acknowledging that the language of empowerment in development practice can have ideological effects, Khader addresses these concerns by providing a clearer conception of empowerment than the one implicit in the development literature and emphasizing what she understands as the normative core of this concept, its relation to human flourishing. This definition of empowerment enables her to rethink certain dilemmas of empowerment that have emerged in development theory and practices. For example, many development practitioners define empowerment in terms of choice, and then struggle to make sense of apparently self-subordinating choices.
If choice equals empowerment, then does this mean that the choice to subordinate or disempower oneself is an instance of empowerment? For Khader, empowerment is a messy, complex, and incremental concept. As I claimed in the introduction, and as I hope this entry shows, the concept of power is central to a wide variety of debates in feminist philosophy. Indeed, the very centrality of this concept to feminist theorizing creates difficulties in writing an entry such as this one: since the concept of power is operative on one way or another in almost all work in feminist theory, it is extremely difficult to place limits on the relevant sources. Throughout, I have tried to emphasize those texts and debates in which the concept of power is a central theme, even if only an implicit one.
I have also tried to prioritize those authors and texts that have been most influential within feminist philosophy, as opposed to the wider terrain of feminist theory or gender studies, though I acknowledge that this distinction is difficult to maintain and perhaps not always terribly useful. Questionable as such framing choices may be, they do offer some much needed help in delimiting the range of relevant sources and providing focus and structure to the discussion.
Arendt, Hannah Beauvoir, Simone de critical theory existentialism feminism-analytic feminism-body feminism-continental feminism-intersections feminism-radical feminism-sex feminist philosophy, interventions: liberal feminism feminist philosophy, topics: perspectives on class and work feminist philosophy, topics: perspectives on the self Foucault, Michel identity politics Marx, Karl phenomenology race. Defining power 2. Power as Resource: Liberal Feminist Approaches 3. Asian cultures do not believe in touching in public settings, and they don't favor direct eye contact. Like the Asian culture, Hispanics also view direct eye contact as a lack of respect.
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