Gender and Culture

Gender and Culture

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The idea that respect for cultural diversity conflicts with genderequality is now a staple of both public and academic debate. Yetdiscussion of these tensions is marred by exaggerated talk ofcultural difference, leading to ethnic reductionism, culturalstereotyping, and a hierarchy of traditional and modern. In thisvolume, Anne Phillips firmly rejects the notion that'culture' might justify the oppression of women, butalso queries the stereotypical binaries that have representedpeople from ethnocultural minorities as peculiarly resistant togender equality. The questions addressed include the relationship betweenuniversalism and cultural relativism, how to distinguish validgeneralisation from either gender or cultural essentialism, and howto recognise women as agents rather than captives of culture. Thediscussions are illuminated by reference to legal cases and policyinterventions, with a particular focus on forced marriage andcultural defence.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 192 pages
  • 146 x 226 x 16mm | 281.23g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0745648002
  • 9780745648002
  • 827,549

Back cover copy

'Anne Phillips's work demonstrates the exhilaration and importanceof sustained critique. This insightful work is the latestcontribution in her deft and decisive critiques ofmulticulturalism. It lays out the moral, philosophical andpractical grounds at stake in tackling the intractable Gordian knotof gender and culture. It raises all our hopes and forces us torethink the most settled of positions.'
Henrietta Moore, London School of Economics

The idea that respect for cultural diversity conflicts withgender equality is now a staple of both public and academic debate.Yet discussion of these tensions is marred by exaggerated talk ofcultural difference, leading to ethnic reductionism, culturalstereotyping and a hierarchy of traditional and modern. In thisvolume, Anne Phillips rejects the notion that 'culture' mightjustify the oppression of women, but also queries the stereotypicalbinaries that have represented people from ethnocultural minoritiesas peculiarly resistant to gender equality.

The questions addressed include the relationship betweenuniversalism and cultural relativism, how to distinguish validgeneralization from either gender or cultural essentialism, and howto recognize women as agents rather than captives of culture. Thediscussions are illuminated by reference to legal cases and policyinterventions, with a particular focus on forced marriage andcultural defence.

No-one should assume that the choices women make about theirlives are forced on them by oppressive and patriarchal cultures, and governments should be wary about leaping prematurely intoprotective mode. A focus on women's agency can, however, lead tocomplacency, understating the cultural and other pressuresoperating on them and the sometimes urgent need for (evenpaternalistic) protection. The debate on this continues.
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Table of contents

Acknowledgements vi 1 Introduction 1 2 Multiculturalism, universalism and the claims of democracy16 3 Dilemmas of gender and culture: the judge, the democrat andthe political activist 38 4 What is culture ? 57 5 What s wrong with essentialism? 69 6 When culture means gender: issues of cultural defence in theEnglish courts 83 7 Free to decide for oneself 107 8 Consent, autonomy and coercion: forced marriage, public policyand the courts 124 Notes 142 Bibliography 157 Index 165
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Review quote

"Anne Phillips's work demonstrates the exhilaration and importance of sustained critique. This insightful work is the latest contribution in her deft and decisive critiques of multiculturalism. It lays out the moral, philosophical and practical grounds at stake in tackling the intractable Gordian knot of gender and culture. It raises all our hopes and forces us to rethink the most settled of positions." Henrietta Moore, London School of Economics
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About Revd Dr Anne Phillips

AnnePhillips is Professor of Political and Gender Theory AT LondonSchool of Economics and Political Science.
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