Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Anderson, Kevin, 1948-

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Sociology


Foucault; Michel--Views on sociology; Marx; Karl; 1818-1883--Views on sociology; Feminist theory--History; Alienation (Social psychology); Sex role; Control (Psychology)


This thesis investigates certain critical ideas of Karl Marx and Michel Foucault and explores their significance for feminism. Chapter 1 provides a brief introduction to the issues explored in the thesis. Chapter 2 examines Marx's theory of alienation as delineated in the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 and traces its continuity through his later work, with reference to Volume One of Capital. It is argued that the theory of alienation remained critical to his work throughout his life and that it formed the basis for many of his later works, including important economic concepts. The chapter also describes Marx's position on women, based on his early ideas in the Manuscripts, through his last writings, The Ethnological Notebooks. Although it is commonly believed that Marx was indifferent to the issues related to gender, his own writings and activities demonstrate that he was sensitive to them, and that he considered women to play a central role in human history. Chapter 3 presents Foucault's critique of modern society, discourse and the relation between power and knowledge. It focuses on his archaeological work, Madness and Civilization, and two of his genealogical books, Discipline and Punish and Volume I of The History of Sexuality. Foucault analyzes the power relations that develop from the establishment of Enlightenment rationality which presents itself as progressive, emancipatory, and the key to truth and knowledge. The hegemony of Enlightenment rationality creates a social network of normative power which operates at the microlevel. Chapter 4 considers the relevance of these ideas for women through specific feminist responses, and their implications for gender-related issues.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [69]-71)


71 pages




Northern Illinois University

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