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Saint-Simonian Feminism

Listed author(s):
  • Evelyn Forget

By 1832, followers of Saint-Simonianism, a utopian-socialist movement in France, had become preoccupied with the social and economic roles of women. Barthelemy-Prosper Enfantin, a leader in the movement, and a few disciples developed an increasingly utopian and abstract theory that justified "protecting" women from the hardening influence of the world and removing them from the public sphere, while arguing that in the new world women would play a role distinct from, yet equal to, that played by men. The theory treated both men and women as beings embedded in a social network, rather than as separate individuals with independent goals. After women were eliminated from the Saint-Simonian hierarchy in 1831, a group of female adherents founded a newspaper as the center of a separate organization, which would work for the extension to women of the same political and civil rights that men enjoyed. This separatist group focused on policy reform rather than theory, on the present rather than some indefinite future, and on the common concerns that united women across social classes. The different ways in which the two groups (the doctrinaire Saint-Simonians and the breakaway women's organization) conceived of economic agents mirror contemporary disputes in feminist economics.

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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Feminist Economics.

Volume (Year): 7 (2001)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 79-96

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Handle: RePEc:taf:femeco:v:7:y:2001:i:1:p:79-96
DOI: 10.1080/135457001316854737
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References listed on IDEAS
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  1. Evelyn Forget, 1997. "The Market for Virtue: Jean-Baptiste Say on Women in the Economy and Society," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 3(1), pages 95-111.
  2. Chris Nyland, 1993. "Adam Smith, Stage Theory, and the Status of Women," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 25(4), pages 617-640, Winter.
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