Front Page Titles (by Subject) Women in the Social Sciences - Literature of Liberty, Spring 1980, vol. 3, No. 1
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Women in the Social Sciences - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, Spring 1980, vol. 3, No. 1 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Women in the Social Sciences
“The Social Sciences and the Study of Women: A Review Article.” Comparative Studies in Sociology and History 20(1978):163–173.
The problem of women’s roles, power and status, past and present, in our own and other cultures, is being addressed more completely by several disciplines in the social sciences. Tilly’s review of a few contemporary books on this subject gives a fuller understanding of women’s roles across culture and history.
Stanley Lemon’s The Woman Citizen (1973) studies pre-women’s suffrage data on history of the political parties and pressure groups which influenced the women’s movement. His findings link feminists’ social activities to the ideas of the pre-First World War Progressivism, and show the later significance of growing women’s rights in the New Deal. Using census statistics to establish the structure of women’s occupations, Lemon gives a more social and economic background to this political appraisal.
Lee Holcombe’s Victorian Ladies at Work (1973) describes the growth of “middle-class female occupations, such as teaching, nursing, office work, and civil service in the late 1880s. She explores the reasons for the changes from blue-collar jobs: a greater supply of single women, and the boom of the industrial age increasing business opportunities for women.
Women, Culture, and Society (1974), edited by Michelle Z. Rosaldo and Louise Lamphere, studies how various cultures have responded to women. Three universal traits were determined: that all contemporary societies are to some extent male-dominated; that sexual inequality is presently a fact of the human social life; and that reproduction and child-bearing is a central fact of women’s lives.
The editors denied any evidence of biological determinism in developing a cultural order among genders, stating rather that behavior roles are consequences of the interaction between biological givens and social patterns. They did, however, trace the universal subordination of women to the “fact” that childbearing and rearing is the primary social activity of women. As long as the domestic sphere remains primarily female, the authors conclude, public power will elude women.
Tilly delves deeper into other research on the subject of women in society, and describes the common thesis that the search for “power” is the major concern of recent articles. Women are not the passive creatures submitting to men’s control over them. Rather, they are political and social actors seeking to maximize their power through the resources at their command; such resources lie mostly in their own domestic sphere.
The collection of information that is being researched and compiled is perhaps not yet significant in its findings, but it does prove the study of women’s lives and social relationships add a dimension to the social sciences that has been sorely neglected.
Culture, Humanities, and Freedom
The relationship between culture and the humanities, on the one hand, and freedom in the personal and social sense is intimate and pervasive. The poet Shelley celebrated the liberating and transformative power of imaginative art in the human psyche and acknowledged the artist as the true “legislator” of human values and politics. The insightful poet-mystic, William Blake, gave as a paradoxical apothegm, “Empire Follows Art & Not Vice Versa as Englishmen Suppose,” which exposed his deep distrust of direct political activity and his awareness of the social influence of art, literature, and the humanities in general.
In German, cultural history is revealingly termed Geistesgeschicht or history of the psyche. The psyche, the self as seat of human awareness, is the focal point not merely of human artistic expression, but also of the experience of human freedom. In a crucial sense freedom expresses itself most immediately in self-awareness and the self-responsibility to choose our personal values and our evaluation of our self and our relation to the world. The alternative to free choice is imprisonment to habit-like values and ideas, not of our choosing, which control us. The imaginative arts, by providing our consciousness with alternatives or reinforcing visions of reality awaken our awareness to deeper self-knowledge and arouse our minds to question our given set of values. What David Meltzer [The San Francisco Poets (1971), p. 4] says of poets may be extended to the liberating effect of all higher art: “The poet can give you new sight, new insight. His poem provides passage through thoughts & perception in order for you to see through the veils & know new meanings.
The poet is a revolutionary because he is constantly subverting corrupt institutional languages with his art. He can make the life-denying rhetoric of power politics void by singing one coherent, true song. The words connect in a man so that he stops & thinks.”
Each of the following summaries show directly or indirectly the challenge to conventional values or ideas in ethics or politics. Thus, the Schaefer summary shows how the questioning essay of Montaigne (“On Cruelty”) challenges the entire orientation of classical ethics with the alternative liberal values of earthly happiness and modernity. As Goldsmith’s summary points out, Mandeville carries forward Montaigne’s endorsement of the goodness of natural enjoyment and work and thereby rehabilitates the nature of careers in commercial and financial capitalism as vacating. Each of the remaining summaries deals with the vital issue of personal or political human freedom and the different cultural premises that support either freedom and servitude.