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Chapter 11: From Feminist Empiricism to Feminist Poststructuralism: Philosophical Questions in Feminist Economics
Drucilla K. Barker Introduction Feminist economics, a dynamic ﬁeld of intellectual inquiry that has emerged over the last ten years, is uniquely situated at the intersection of economics, feminism, and methodology. Feminist economists observe that much of economics relies on highly gendered and raced metaphors, and that it fails to adequately account for a wide variety of factors particularly germane to women’s lives such as women’s labor force participation, the wage gap, and the value of household labor. It was not that these topics had not been studied before. They had, but not from a feminist perspective. They were not feminist because they did not question the gender division of labor and did not employ gender as a category of analysis. Using gender as an analytical category, feminist economists showed that unquestioned and unexamined masculinist values were deeply embedded in the theoretical and empirical analyses of economic issues associated with women. Feminist economics is developing during a period of interesting transformations in epistemology and the philosophy of science. The works of V.O. Quine and Thomas Kuhn are particularly signiﬁcant to framing these changes and to casting doubt on the claims of foundationalist epistemologies underlying mainstream economics (Kuhn 1962; Quine 1953). Kuhn’s contribution was to show that observations are always theory laden: the data used to test theories and hypotheses are seen through the lens of the theories that are supposed to refute or support scientiﬁc hypotheses. Quine showed that theories are always underdetermined by the evidence. Since statements...
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