Current Controversies in Feminist Theory

Mary G. Dietz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


Over the past two decades, academic feminism has differentiated and fragmented substantially in light of a wide range of new approaches in theory. This overview and assessment of the wide, diverse, and changing field of feminist theory gives particular attention to contestations surrounding the political theorizing of gender, identity, and subjectivity. Three divergent and oppositional perspectives - difference feminism, diversity feminism, and deconstruction feminism - frame current discussions regarding the "construction" of the female subject; the nature of sexual difference; the relation between sex and gender; the intersection of gender, race, class, sexuality, etc.; and the significance of "women" as a political category in feminism. The problem of epistemic identification (locating or dislocating the female subject, analyzing gender difference, politicizing identity) is also a central element in the theorizing of feminist politics, multicultural citizenship, justice, power, and the democratic public sphere. Within this domain, we find equally intense debates among feminist theorists concerning the meaning of feminist citizenship and the politics of recognition, as well as the relations between gender equality and cultural rights, feminism and multiculturalism, democracy and difference. Although the field is far from convergence even on the meaning of feminism itself, we might take its current state as a sign of its vitality and significance within the discourses of contemporary social and political theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)399-431
Number of pages33
JournalAnnual Review of Political Science
StatePublished - 2003


  • Deconstruction feminism
  • Difference feminism
  • Diversity feminism
  • Gender
  • Identity
  • Sex
  • Subjectivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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