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Decolonization, difference and social theory

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  1. Central issue in contemporary social theory
  2. Theorizing difference
  3. Identity and difference
  4. Race, gender, and sociological theory
  5. The Negro and language
  6. Conclusion

Central issue in contemporary social theory: the challenge of difference. Since the 1960s, sociologists have begun to revisit the issue of difference. Many factors to explain that: social movements- anti-colonial revolutions, civil-rights struggles, development of feminism, gay liberation. The discipline of sociology became more diverse.

Theorizing difference:
Gender and race are fundamental categories of experience that need to be analysed. Theorizing difference - at least 3 things:
-Correcting for the false generalizations - dimensions of difference (such as gender and race) brought into our thinking about social life.
-Questioning whether these categories have objective and stable meanings. How are these concepts produced historically? What ambiguities are ignored to make the distinctions appear natural?

E.g. children of Black/White marriage were considered as black. Novelty: biological classifications of races. However, sociologists insist on the fact that culture is also important in the recognition of racial distinctions.

E.g. Gender biological distinctions but sociologists highlight the role of culture and power relations. Distinction ?sex? (biology, reproduction) /?gender? (social and cultural identifications). ?Gender? is a social construction that varies across time and cultures. However, there is also an intrusion of cultural values into the very linkage of ?sex? to reproduction - historically: homosexuality as a transgression of both gender roles and sexual classification.

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