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Chodorow, Nancy


Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631207535.1997.x


(1944-) US feminist sociologist and psychoanalytic critic. The central project of Chodorow's most influential work, The Reproduction of Mothering (1978), was to explain the seemingly inevitable, trans-historical, and cross-culturally universal fact of male dominance in terms that did not assume biological determinism, but would instead allow intervention and transformation of the sexual divisions of productive and reproductive labor. Published at a time when most US feminists were hostile to P sychoanalysis , The Reproduction of Mothering made a strong case for its usefulness to feminist inquiry. Drawing on the work of Karen Horney and Melanie K lein , Chodorow revised traditional theories of O bject -R elations and Freudian narratives of development, shifting the focus from the father and the Oedipal complex to the mother and the pre-Oedipal period to conclude that G ender identity is constructed differently for men and women: “women's self more in relation and involved with boundary negotiations, separation and connection, men's self more distanced and based on defensively firm boundaries and denials of self-other connection” (1989, p. 2). Women's exclusive responsibility for childrearing is a prime determinant of male dominance, for women who mother (and men who do not) produce daughters “with mothering capacities and the desire to mother” and sons for whom masculinity ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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