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The sociology of subjectivity, and the subjectivity of sociologists: a critique of the sociology of gender in the Australian family

The British Journal of Sociology
Volume 55 No 1 March 2004
pages 79-97

Abstract

In this era of reflexive sociology it is commonplace that subjectivity is of great sociological concern, and that the comprehension by social researchers of their own subject position is essential. Still, old habits die hard. Focusing on selected texts in the sociology of the Australian family, this paper traces the effects of failing to focus the sociological gaze on subjectivity and its variation across society. Highlighted are some patterns of analytic misconstruction of subjectivity, especially the substitution of measurement for a theory of practice, and the projection by sociologists of their own class-specific subjectivity onto society at large. Ultimately, this misconstruction turns works like those discussed in this paper into a powerful denial of alternative subjectivities, and a reinforcement of the socially dominant perspective.

Keywords: Subjectivity, reflexivity, theory, family, gender, Australia

Allon J Uhlmann
School of Social Anthropology, Australian National University

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