Public/Private Spheres: Women Past and Present

In these essays we see how the images of women as passive, private, domestic creatures underestimate the power politics that keep them in their place, just as they underestimate the active responses women must make to change the conditions of their existence. But even more importantly, these essays go beyond the study of women to an analytical framework that incorporates a mode of inquiry from which the “stuff” of academic scholarship is made. These essays assume that the “mundane” everyday lives of women and men count in our analysis of social conflict and its resolution. The socially constructed “split” between the public and private spheres of life and the gender roles organized around it provide a perspective from which any number of institutions may be analyzed—religion, family, education, polity, and economy. This perspective makes evident the ways in which those seemingly separate spheres of life are simultaneously apart from one another and a part of one another.