Abstract: The feminist politicization of experience has gradually brought the Private (the Self and the domestic) into a close dialectical relationship with the Public. This substantially paves the way for a new individual/collective conception of citizenship, where the real progressive concern for the multicultural human condition and the politics/ethics of difference are reflexively realised on the very ground of everyday life.
This paper seeks to critically describe and explain the antagonistic relationships between feminist knowledge/politics and the private/public divide. The reification of this divide has undoubtedly been inducive to women’s seclusion, marginalization and exclusion from the democratic light of the so-called “public sphere” (Habermas). However, the feminist “politicization of experience” has brought the Private (the self, the familial, the domestic and the intimate) into a close dialectical relationship with the Public. Within this analytic framework, the concept of “citizenship” becomes reflexively decontextualized from its reductionistic legal connotations and is dynamically transformed into a contested social process, which radically cuts across the received private/public dualism and promises the emergence of a strengthened cosmopolitan civil society.
Feminism, more than any other social movement, systematically attempted to include the historically neglected field of subjective meanings and personal experiences in the critical analysis of the social world and, in particular, of the “deeply gendered” nature of social institutions. This inclusion is a particular “critical method” (MacKinnon 1982) for understanding and changing reality. From the very start of the “feminist renaissance” (in the 1960s and the 1970s), academic feminism, located predominantly in sociology, has fruitfully re-energized fundamental questions of the mainstream sociology of (scientific) knowledge.
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