Categories We Live By

Categories We Live By : The Construction of Sex, Gender, Race, and Other Social Categories

4.08 (36 ratings by Goodreads)
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4.08 (36 ratings by Goodreads)

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We are women, we are men. We are refugees, single mothers, people with disabilities, and queers. We belong to social categories and they frame our actions, self-understanding, and opportunities. But what are social categories? How are they created and sustained? How does one come to belong to them?

Asta approaches these questions through analytic feminist metaphysics. Her theory of social categories centers on an answer to the question: what is it for a feature of an individual to be socially meaningful? In a careful, probing investigation, she reveals how social categories are created and sustained and demonstrates their tendency to oppress through examples from current events. To this end, she offers an account of just what social construction is and how it works in a range of
examples that problematize the categories of sex, gender, and race in particular. The main idea is that social categories are conferred upon people. Asta introduces a 'conferralist' framework in order to articulate a theory of social meaning, social construction, and most importantly, of the construction of
sex, gender, race, disability, and other social categories.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 160 pages
  • 155 x 235 x 12mm | 234g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 019025680X
  • 9780190256807
  • 699,576

Table of contents

Introduction: Social Categories
Chapter 1: The Conferralist Framework
Chapter 2: Social Construction as Social Significance
Chapter 3: Sex and Gender: From Beauvoir to Butler
Chapter 4: Conferralism about Sex and Gender
Chapter 5: Conferralism about Other Social Categories
Chapter 6: Identity as Social Location
Conclusion: Categories We Live By: Systematicity and Oppression

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Review quote

Asta's book is informative, lucidly written, and innovative. It ofers a valuable contribution to social ontology, social constructionism, and feminist metaphysics. * Jonathan Y. Tsou, Iowa State University, Metascience * In Categories We Live By, Asta presents an original way of understanding social properties in general, and social properties like sex and gender in particular. In so doing, Asta has opened up a promising new direction for future research on social categories. Though her theoretical orientation is directed at metaphysical questions, she is motivated by feminist aims. Indeed, the book is full of claims that both metaphysicians and feminist
philosophers will find interesting. As such, Categories We Live By is a valuable contribution to both social metaphysics and feminist theory. * Hypatia Reviews Online * Astas view of social properties is clear, precise, and elegant. She offers a unifying explanation for what social properties are, why they are of interest, and how they shape our daily lives. We are resoundingly impressed by this theory, and by the care with which Asta has explained and defended it. we cannot say enough good things about this book. Asta has written a landmark contribution to feminist metaphysics. It is compelling, engaging, and
carefully argued. And it is a must-read for anyone interested in social ontology and the nature of social kinds. * Elizabeth Barnes and Matthew Andler, University of Virginia, Mind * This book is not only elegant and a joy to read; it also advances the field of social ontology by offering an alternative to constitution accounts and placing communal properties at the center of social reality. It is a must-read for anyone interested in social ontology and social theory. * Asa Burman, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews * What does it mean to say that identities are socially constructed? This excellent book digs deep into the metaphysical and political issues involved in this idea. Asta is an immensely talented philosopher, and here she brings the debate over gender to the next level. A book to be reckoned with. * Linda Martin Alcoff, Professor of Philosophy, CUNY Graduate Center * Categories We Live By is a fresh and illuminating look at the construction of human categories. * Ron Mallon, Professor and Chair, Philosophy & Director, Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology Program, Washington University in St. Louis * Categories We Live By offers an important and original account of the construction of the social world. Drawing on her broader conferralist approach in metaphysics, Asta gives a compelling account of how our actions constitute social categories. In doing so, she brings tremendous analytical clarity and political insight into areas that are often obscured in consideration of the social domain and provides resources for social agency and social change. * Sally Haslanger, Ford Professor of Philosophy and Women's & Gender Studies, MIT * Categories We Live By investigates human social kinds, such as gender and race, in a way that seamlessly blends metaphysics, social ontology, and feminist philosophy. As Asta observes, 'camping out at that intersection can be a cold and lonely endeavour': each group has a different conception of what philosophy should aim to do, and there is plenty of mutual suspicion. As a fellow camper at that intersection, I know this all too well - which is why I am
so heartened by the way that this excellent and exciting book manages to make that intersection a warmer and more inviting place. * Katharine Jenkins, The Philosophers' Magazine *
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About Asta

Asta is Professor of Philosophy at San Francisco State University. She works mainly in metaphysics, feminist philosophy, and social philosophy and on related topics in epistemology and philosophy of language.
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Rating details

4.08 out of 5 stars
- 36 ratings
5 36% (13)
4 42% (15)
3 19% (7)
2 0% (0)
1 3% (1)
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