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Discussion focused on identifying the needed resources and materials and examining the capacities of various institutions to coordinate the development of modules. All the participants expressed interest in contributing to the long-term project and a desire to use the modules in courses on women-gender and development and women's studies at their own institutions.

The team convened in Kingston, Jamaica, in February to determine the specific content and design of the course modules and to assign writing tasks to team members. Two subsequent project-team meetings were convened, in New York in January and June , to review and finalize draft materials prepared by the various teams of writers. COL managed the project and coordinated the activities.

The Centres for Gender and Development Studies at the three campuses of UWI and SIGAD collaboratively developed and wrote this core module, which focuses on the theoretical justification for examining women's specific roles and contributions to development initiatives. The module is concerned with the integration and recognition of women and their inclusion as decision-makers in development planning and policy-making, as well as other development activities: it also celebrates women's contributions to social, economic, and political development.

The collaborative process was complicated, but rewarding. Although individuals or small teams authored specific chapters, feedback from the various writing teams enriched and enlarged everyone's writing and thinking. For example, the presentation of black feminism and Third World feminism in Chapter 3 benefited enormously from the input of Eudine Barriteau from the Barbados UWI team.

The opportunity to read each of the chapters provided new ways of addressing important issues and influenced all of our writing and thinking. Input from the writing teams also assisted in the laborious process of identifying appropriate activities, excerpts, case studies, recommended readings, and key concepts. Above all, the two editorial meetings facilitated rethinking and rewriting. These meetings were grueling, intellectually challenging, and enormously important. Every sentence and word was examined and contested; every concept was revisited and reexamined.

Participants left humbled, but inspired, by both the challenges and the benefits of South-North collaboration. The module that emerged from this process is a comprehensive, foundational text on gender and development GAD. The module contains narratives or case studies to further illustrate the main topics.

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Exercises and study questions invite the user to enhance his or her knowledge through personal research. Related further readings are provided to direct the user to additional sources of information. Key concepts defined in Appendix 1 are highlighted in bold in the text. The module spans the emergence of women in development WID , bringing us to the point where the second wave of critiques and evaluation led to the emergence of the new field of GAD. It also addresses emerging debates that have continued to develop since the mids, particularly those on the power of development discourse, globalization, and the concepts of difference and voice.

The module was made available to educational institutions and nongovernmental and women's organizations throughout the Commonwealth for local adaptation and use in traditional educational settings and informal situations. Its publication, in revised form, as a book is intended to enhance its usefulness and increase its availability around the world.

The attribution of general editors reflects the work of moving the manuscript from a module to a book. Individual authors are listed on the chapters they wrote, but the manuscript as a whole reflects our collective endeavours. The Commonwealth of Learning COL extends sincere appreciation to the following project team members for their significant contributions to the success of the project:. We also acknowledge the efforts of Sherrill Whittington, the former COL staff member responsible for women-and-development project coordination, and Patricia Mc Williams, who assumed responsibility for the project after Ms Whittington's departure from COL.

We are very grateful to Sue Parker, Library Technician at COL, for her help with copyright clearances; and to Beverley Gardner for the original layout and word processing. Their tremendous support helped ensure the success of the project. The opinions expressed in this document are entirely those of the authors and should not be attributed in any manner to COL, the members of its Board of Governors, or the countries they represent. In this chapter, we examine the process of theorizing and learn to appreciate the dynamic and flexible nature of this process.

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Much of our understanding of the world, our societies, and ourselves, today, rests on theories and knowledge generated historically and predominantly by men of certain nationalities and economic classes. Male-dominated and culturally specific theorizing and knowledge have generally resulted in the exclusion of women and other groups from the process of formal theorizing and knowledge-building.


When applied in research, policy, and action, such theories and knowledge not only ignore women's contributions in all spheres of activity but also exclude consideration of issues particularly relevant to women. Feminist scholars have argued that knowledge based mainly on male, culturally specific experience represents a skewed perception of reality and is only partial knowledge.

The best way to correct this is to take women's daily experiences and their informal theorizing into account and, on this basis, adopt feminist approaches to building theory and knowledge. Theorizing and theory-building have generally been seen as the business of academics in ivory towers, yet all individuals make choices and decisions based on assumptions or theories about the world. These formal, mainstream or "male-stream" approaches to theorizing are being challenged by various groups of women who have engaged in different approaches to the process of theorizing.

These women are bringing their unique perspectives to bear on issues affecting their daily lives. Women have used these new perspectives to deconstruct traditional knowledge bases and build new ones. Such reconstruction of knowledge has influenced policy and action affecting the lives of women. To understand that theorizing is one way in which people use their assumptions to achieve, interpret, or impose meaning;.

Reproduction, Women, And The State In The Post-soviet Era

To understand how feminist theorizing has challenged mainstream theorizing;. To understand how diverse assumptions about the same phenomenon result in diverse explanations, theories, and power positions; and. To understand how theory and knowledge are interrelated and how feminist theorizing and knowledge have influenced research, policy, and action. Although we have no precise, universally accepted definition of theory, certain recurring elements appear in the literature, which allows us to roughly draw the boundaries of the concept.

Theory is defined most commonly as scientific theory, which emphasizes a logically unified framework, generalization, and explanation. Ornstein and Hunkins , p. Stanley and Wise suggested that the majority of persons, particularly women, have been brought up to think of theory as something mysterious and forbidding, produced by clever people, most of whom are men. Nowadays, people are questioning this divide between experts and nonexperts and adopting a more inclusive approach to theorizing.

The traditional, mainstream process of theorizing rests on the scientific method. This is summarized in the model presented in Figure 1. The male-centred approach to theorizing has produced particular views of many issues, including those affecting women. These views rely on androcentric assumptions. An example of such an assumption is that women's work is biologically determined and therefore is or should be home based and restricted to nurturing and domestic chores.

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Such assumptions provide the basis for hypotheses such as, in this case, the hypothesis that the waged workforce tends to be predominantly male and women work at home. The information gathered during the testing of such an hypothesis has traditionally been limited to quantitative data, which are used to support the general principles posited as offering valid explanations about this issue. Researchers have, for a long time, uncritically accepted these explanations as factual and have produced theories about women's work based on questionable assumptions.

Despite their questionable nature, such theories have also informed policy and action. Unrecognized and value-laden assumptions, based on the male researcher's biases;. Overemphasis on empirical and quantitative data and the denial of the validity of qualitative data;. Lack of involvement of the researcher with the subject s of the research;. Impersonal and detached nature of the process; and. The supposed "objectivity" of the researcher and knowledge. Scientific knowledge-seeking is supposed to be value-neutral, objective, dispassionate, disinterested, and so forth.

It is supposed to be protected from political interests, goals, and desires such as feminist ones by the norms of science. In particular, science's "method" is supposed to protect the results of research from the social values of the researchers. When researchers use this traditional approach to theorizing, however, their biases can affect the process at every stage:. In the identification of the problem;. In the formulation of hypotheses and calculated guesses;. In the design of the research to test hypotheses; and. In the collection and interpretation of data.

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Nonetheless, theories based on this approach have been a major force in shaping perceptions of reality. An investigation of women's work conducted by researchers with a feminist perspective would, in all likelihood, rely on a variety of assumptions related to their own experiences, as well as to the experiences of women in other situations. Such assumptions would differ according to factors such as race, class, ethnicity, and age. An investigation such as this would therefore be more likely to give the following results:.

Some women do unpaid work in the home;. Some women do both unpaid work in the home and waged and unpaid work in wider society;. Some women work only in wider society and employ other women to work in their homes;. Women are found in a variety of occupations;.

Feminist and Gender Theories

Women work at all levels in the workplace; and. Women, both in their paid and in their unpaid work, contribute greatly to the national economy. Based on this wider view, the general principle would be that women's work is not restricted to the home. Female perspectives and experiences would help to challenge the hypothesis generated from the male perspective that women's work is in the home and show it to be invalid. Theorizing is therefore an important, flexible, and dynamic process.

We each have assumptions about people, events, issues, etc. We may explicitly state these assumptions or allow them to remain implicit in our opinions, attitudes, and behaviours. We each interpret things differently as we bring our assumptions to bear on a situation. We test some of these assumptions formally and others informally. Informal testing of our assumptions is, in fact, a process of hypothesis testing, and the results often cause us to change our assumptions.

Sandra Harding's views, reprinted in Box 1 , are particularly interesting. Though feminist empiricism appears in these ways to be consistent with empiricist tendencies, further consideration reveals that the feminist component deeply undercuts the assumptions of traditional empiricism in three ways: feminist empiricism has a radical future.