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The Feminine Method as Myth and Accounting Resource: A Challenge to Gender Studies and Social Studies of Science

The Feminine Method as Myth and Accounting Resource: A Challenge to Gender Studies and Social... Some recent feminist analyses of science have focused on the method of science, claiming that it displays stereotypically masculine gender traits, and counterposing it to a putatively alternative method, embodying so-called feminine gender traits. The latter is advocated either as a replacement for the masculine method, or as a step towards the ultimate achievement of a gender-free method and science. This paper argues that recent work in the history of science and sociology of scientific knowledge casts considerable doubt upon any attempt to grasp some supposed methodological essence — masculine, feminine, de-gendered or whatever. It is shown that although methodological discourses are incapable of grasping the content and dynamics of the sciences, individually or severally, such discourses can serve as flexible rhetorical resources in the social processes of knowledge construction and negotiation of scientific knowledge claims. We illustrate this context-dependence and flexibility of method discourses by contrasting Evelyn Fox Keller's account of the work of Barbara McClintock with a variety of accounts of the work of Rosalind Franklin. It is shown that these method-centred accounts merely continue the politics of alternative accountings practised by scientists, and that they therefore are objects of social constructivist and contextualist analyses of science, rather than contributions to them. We conclude that neither feminist historiography of science nor feminist political intervention in the social institution of science is likely to be facilitated by taking such method discourses at a literal level. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and Technology SAGE

The Feminine Method as Myth and Accounting Resource: A Challenge to Gender Studies and Social Studies of Science

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References (5)

Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
Copyright © by SAGE Publications
ISSN
0306-3127
eISSN
1460-3659
DOI
10.1177/030631289019004011
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Some recent feminist analyses of science have focused on the method of science, claiming that it displays stereotypically masculine gender traits, and counterposing it to a putatively alternative method, embodying so-called feminine gender traits. The latter is advocated either as a replacement for the masculine method, or as a step towards the ultimate achievement of a gender-free method and science. This paper argues that recent work in the history of science and sociology of scientific knowledge casts considerable doubt upon any attempt to grasp some supposed methodological essence — masculine, feminine, de-gendered or whatever. It is shown that although methodological discourses are incapable of grasping the content and dynamics of the sciences, individually or severally, such discourses can serve as flexible rhetorical resources in the social processes of knowledge construction and negotiation of scientific knowledge claims. We illustrate this context-dependence and flexibility of method discourses by contrasting Evelyn Fox Keller's account of the work of Barbara McClintock with a variety of accounts of the work of Rosalind Franklin. It is shown that these method-centred accounts merely continue the politics of alternative accountings practised by scientists, and that they therefore are objects of social constructivist and contextualist analyses of science, rather than contributions to them. We conclude that neither feminist historiography of science nor feminist political intervention in the social institution of science is likely to be facilitated by taking such method discourses at a literal level.

Journal

Social Studies of Science: An International Review of Research in the Social Dimensions of Science and TechnologySAGE

Published: Nov 1, 1989

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