Monday, 24 December 2018

Intersectionality as buzzword: A sociology of science perspective on what makes a feminist theory successful

Kathy Davis First Published April 1, 2008 Research Article Article information No Access Abstract Since its inception, the concept of `intersectionality' — the interaction of multiple identities and experiences of exclusion and subordination — has been heralded as one of the most important contributions to feminist scholarship. Despite its popularity, there has been considerable confusion concerning what the concept actually means and how it can or should be applied in feminist inquiry. In this article, I look at the phenomenon of intersectionality's spectacular success within contemporary feminist scholarship, as well as the uncertainties and confusion which it has generated. Drawing upon insights from the sociology of science, I shall show how and why intersectionality could become a feminist success story. I shall argue that, paradoxically, it is precisely the concept's alleged weaknesses — its ambiguity and open-endedness — that were the secrets to its success and, more generally, make it a good feminist theory. Keywords critical race theory, difference, feminist methodology, postmodern feminist theory, theoretical closure, theory generalists and specialists