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Martha Albertson Fineman

Bio: Martha Albertson Fineman is an academic researcher from Emory University. The author has contributed to research in topics: Vulnerability & Feminist legal theory. The author has an hindex of 28, co-authored 107 publications receiving 4180 citations. Previous affiliations of Martha Albertson Fineman include Illinois Institute of Technology & Queen's University Belfast.


Papers
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Posted Content
TL;DR: Vulnerability is and should be understood to be universal and constant, inherent in the human condition as mentioned in this paper, and the concept of vulnerability can be used to argue for a more responsive state and a more egalitarian society.
Abstract: This essay develops the concept of vulnerability in order to argue for a more responsive state and a more egalitarian society. Vulnerability is and should be understood to be universal and constant, inherent in the human condition. The vulnerability approach is an alternative to traditional equal protection analysis; it represents a post-identity inquiry in that it is not focused only on discrimination against defined groups, but concerned with privilege and favor conferred on limited segments of the population by the state and broader society through their institutions. As such, vulnerability analysis concentrates on the institutions and structures our society has and will establish to manage our common vulnerabilities. This approach has the potential to move us beyond the stifling confines of current discrimination-based models toward a more substantive vision of equality.

704 citations

Book ChapterDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, the concept of vulnerability is proposed to argue for a more responsive state and a more egalitarian society, and the authors argue that vulnerability is universal and constant, inherent in the human condition.
Abstract: In this chapter I develop the concept of vulnerability in order to argue for a more responsive state and a more egalitarian society. I argue that vulnerability is universal and constant, inherent in the human condition. The vulnerability approach I propose is an alternative to traditional equal protection analysis; it moves us beyond identity-based inquiries because it focuses not only on discrimination against defined groups, but is concerned with the privileges conferred on limited segments of the population by the state through its institutions. Therefore, vulnerability analyses concentrate on our social structures and institutions established to manage our common vulnerabilities. This approach has the potential to move us beyond the confines of current discrimination-based models toward a more substantive vision of equality. Theorizing a concept of vulnerability necessitates developing a more complexsubject around which to build social policy and law; this new subject is useful in redefining and expanding current ideas about state responsibility toward individuals and institutions. In fact, I argue that the “vulnerable subject” must replace the autonomous and independent subject asserted in the liberal tradition. Far more representative of actual lived experience and the human condition, the vulnerable subject should be at the center of our political and theoretical endeavors. The vision of the state that would emerge in such an engagement would be more responsive to and responsible for the vulnerable subject, a reimagining that is essential to attaining a more equal society than currently exists in America. Before developing the vulnerability thesis, I will address some conceptualimpediments to the idea of a more responsive state. First, an impoverished sense of equality is embedded in our current legal doctrine. We understand equality in formal terms, focused on discrimination and inattentive to underlying societal inequities. Second, the view that the state’s proper role is one of restraint and abstention is politically powerful. Even self-identified progressive social reformers are suspicious of the state; the rhetoric of non-intervention prevails in policy discussions, deterring positive measures designed to address inequalities. We idealize contract and correspondingly reify individual choice in ways that mask society’s role in perpetuating inequality. The fact that societal institutions play asignificant role in perpetrating inequality is the very reason that we need a more active and responsive state.

357 citations

BookDOI
04 Apr 2014
TL;DR: Fienman as mentioned in this paper argues strongly against current legal and social policy discussions about the family because they do not have at their core the crucial concepts of caregiving and dependency, as well as the best interests of women and children.
Abstract: Calling for nothing less than a radical reform of family law and a reconception of intimacy, The Neutered Mother, The Sexual Family, and Other Twentieth Century Tragedies argues strongly against current legal and social policy discussions about the family because they do not have at their core the crucial concepts of caregiving and dependency, as well as the best interests of women and children. The Neutered Mother scrutinizes the definitions of family and mother throughout the volume while paying close attention to issues of race, class and sexuality. In addition, Fienman convincingly contests society's refusal to dignify, support and respond to the needs of caregivers and illustrates the burden they must bear due to this treatment. This book is a crucial step toward defining America's most pressing social policy problems having to do with women, motherhood and the family.

341 citations

Book
01 Jan 2004
TL;DR: The authors argued that the sexually affiliated couple is no longer an appropriate building block for contemporary families and that society should be organized around 'caretaking relationships,2 particularly those involving children or elderly parents.'
Abstract: Cornell Legal scholar argues agains pr-family legislation - indeed, against the very concept of the tradional family - and gives the lie to the idea that anyone in America is actually self-suffient. She insists that the sexually affiliated couple is no longer an appropriate building block for contemporary families and that society should be organised around 'caretaking relationships,2 particularly those involving children or elderly parents.'

335 citations

Posted Content
TL;DR: The concept of vulnerability and the idea of a vulnerable subject began as a stealthily disguised human rights discourse, fashioned for an American audience as discussed by the authors, and has evolved from those early articulations, and I now think it has some significant differences as an approach, particularly in that a focus on vulnerability is decidedly focused on exploring the nature of the human part, rather than the rights part, of human rights trope.
Abstract: Since there is also no U.S. constitutional guarantee to basic social goods, such as housing, education, or health care, the anti-discrimination, sameness-of-treatment approach to equality prevalent in the United States is particularly problematic. The discourse of human rights that supports claims to such goods in European and other countries does not exist in America. We have not ratified many of the international agreements, including those associated with economic rights, as well as CEDAW and CRC. The courts are little help. In fact, attempts to apply human rights ideals internally - to American practices and laws - have been met with resistance, if not outright rejection. Several Justices of the Supreme Court decried references to human rights principles used to bolster arguments about constitutionality under American precedent to be the application of "foreign fads" when (superior) American constitutional provisions should prevail.My development of the concept of vulnerability and the idea of a vulnerable subject began as a stealthily disguised human rights discourse, fashioned for an American audience. The concept has evolved from those early articulations, and I now think it has some significant differences as an approach, particularly in that a focus on vulnerability is decidedly focused on exploring the nature of the human part, rather than the rights part, of the human rights trope. Importantly, consideration of vulnerability brings societal institutions, in addition to the state and individual, into the discussion and under scrutiny. Vulnerability is posited as the characteristic that positions us in relation to each other as human beings and also suggests a relationship of responsibility between state and individual. The nature of human vulnerability forms the basis for a claim that the state must be more responsive to that vulnerability and do better at ensuring the "All-American" promise of equality of opportunity.

250 citations


Cited by
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Journal ArticleDOI
23 Jun 2006
TL;DR: This article explored the various ways in which race and gender intersect in shaping structural and political aspects of violence against women of color and found that the interests and experiences of women of colour are frequently marginalized within both feminist and antiracist discourses.
Abstract: Identity-based politics has been a source of strength for people of color, gays and lesbians, among others. The problem with identity politics is that it often conflates intra group differences. Exploring the various ways in which race and gender intersect in shaping structural and political aspects of violence against these women, it appears the interests and experiences of women of color are frequently marginalized within both feminist and antiracist discourses. Both discourses have failed to consider the intersections of racism and patriarchy. However, the location of women of color at the intersection of race and gender makes our actual experience of domestic violence, rape, and remedial reform quite different from that of white women. Similarly, both feminist and antiracist politics have functioned in tandem to marginalize the issue of violence against women of color. The effort to politicize violence against women will do little to address the experiences of nonwhite women until the ramifications of racial stratification among women are acknowledged. At the same time, the anti-racist agenda will not be furthered by suppressing the reality of intra-racial violence against women of color. The effect of both these marginalizations is that women of color have no ready means to link their experiences with those of other women.

2,665 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The author presents 3 questions for psychologists to ask: Who is included within this category?
Abstract: Feminist and critical race theories offer the concept of intersectionality to describe analytic approaches that simultaneously consider the meaning and consequences of multiple categories of identity, difference, and disadvantage. To understand how these categories depend on one another for meaning and are jointly associated with outcomes, reconceptualization of the meaning and significance of the categories is necessary. To accomplish this, the author presents 3 questions for psychologists to ask: Who is included within this category? What role does inequality play? Where are there similarities? The 1st question involves attending to diversity within social categories. The 2nd conceptualizes social categories as connoting hierarchies of privilege and power that structure social and material life. The 3rd looks for commonalities across categories commonly viewed as deeply different. The author concludes with a discussion of the implications and value of these 3 questions for each stage of the research process.

2,043 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors argue that capabilities can help us to construct a normative conception of social justice, with critical potential for gender issues, only if we specify a definite set of capabilities as the most important ones to protect.
Abstract: Amartya Sen has made a major contribution to the theory of social justice, and of gender justice, by arguing that capabilities are the relevant space of comparison when justice-related issues are considered. This article supports Sen's idea, arguing that capabilities supply guidance superior to that of utility and resources (the view's familiar opponents), but also to that of the social contract tradition, and at least some accounts of human rights. But I argue that capabilities can help us to construct a normative conception of social justice, with critical potential for gender issues, only if we specify a definite set of capabilities as the most important ones to protect. Sen's "perspective of freedom" is too vague. Some freedoms limit others; some freedoms are important, some trivial, some good, and some positively bad. Before the approach can offer a valuable normative gender perspective, we must make commitments about substance.

2,008 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This article provides a comprehensive review of the emerging domestic violence literature using a race, class, gender, sexual orientation intersectional analysis and structural framework fostered by women of color and their allies to understand the experiences and contexts of domestic violence for marginalized women in U.S. society.
Abstract: This article provides a comprehensive review of the emerging domestic violence literature using a race, class, gender, sexual orientation intersectional analysis and structural framework fostered by women of color and their allies to understand the experiences and contexts of domestic violence for marginalized women in U.S. society. The first half of the article lays out a series of challenges that an intersectional analysis grounded in a structural framework provides for understanding the role of culture in domestic violence. The second half of the article points to major contributions of such an approach to feminist methods and practices in working with battered women on the margins of society.

863 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
Terry Arendell1
TL;DR: A decade review of mothering and motherhood can be found in this article, focusing on a wide array of specific topics and relationships among variables, including issues of maternal well-being, maternal satisfaction and distress, and employment.
Abstract: Mothering and motherhood are the subjects of a rapidly expanding body of literature. Considered in this decade review are two predominant streams in this work. One is the theorizing of mothering and motherhood and the other is the empirical study of the mothering experience. Conceptual developments have been propelled particularly by feminist scholarship, including the increasing attention to race and ethnic diversity and practices. The conceptualizations of the ideology of intensive mothering and of maternal practice are among the significant contributions. Study of mothering has focused attention on a wide array of specific topics and relationships among variables, including issues of maternal well-being, maternal satisfaction and distress, and employment.

847 citations