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Micro-Politics

Agency in a Postfeminist Era

1994
Author:

Patricia S. Mann

Micro-Politics

Offers a radical alternative to feminist identity politics. According to Mann’s bold and original analysis, our political agency is prior to our sense of identity today. Micro-Politics provides a framework in which hierarchies of race, sex, class, as well as gender are figured as contested sites of struggle in our everyday lives.

Offers a radical alternative to feminist identity politics. According to Mann’s bold and original analysis, our political agency is prior to our sense of identity today. Micro-Politics provides a framework in which hierarchies of race, sex, class, as well as gender are figured as contested sites of struggle in our everyday lives.

Philosophy that seeks concreteness rarely attains it. Patricia Mann's important book opens a new, promising stage in the effort to apply social theory/philosophy to real social issues. Working through the entire literature and the full range of concrete problems, Mann comes up with an exciting postfeminist theory of agency, a veritable 'gendered micropolitics' that is theoretically interesting and immediately applicable to the real world.

Tom Rockmore, Duquesne University

Patricia S. Mann explains our current period as a time of social transformation resulting from an "unmooring" of women, men, and children from the nuclear family, gender relations having replaced economic relations as the primary site of social tension and change in our lives. The feminist movement has evolved, according to Mann, into a popularly based postfeminist struggle to reconstruct relationships between women and men within everyday contexts of work, family, education, and politics.
Mann formulates a "postmodern" theory of political agency, utilizing it to explain political events such as the Hill-Thomas Senate hearings and their social aftermath. While liberal and progressive theories have explained political agency in terms of individual or group forms of identity, Mann suggests another alternative. Individuals such as Anita Hill are drawn into socially meaningful struggles in the context of their daily lives-as we all are potentially participating in micro-political forms of activism in a variety of institutional contexts. These dynamic micro-political situations involve intersecting dimensions of race, class, and sexuality, as well as gender. Within specific conflicts, individuals rearticulate their notions of desire and responsibility, and their expectations for recognition and reward; according to Mann political agency resides in these choices.
Addressing some of the most important controversies in political philosophy, Mann weaves together strands of the "participatory politics" of the 1960s and the multicultural politics of the 1990s. In doing so, she offers a new basis for understanding social change.

Micro-Politics

Patricia Mann is an Associate at Cyrus D. Mehta & Associates, a U.S. immigration and nationality law firm in New York City. She has published many articles on contemporary social and political issues.

Micro-Politics

Philosophy that seeks concreteness rarely attains it. Patricia Mann's important book opens a new, promising stage in the effort to apply social theory/philosophy to real social issues. Working through the entire literature and the full range of concrete problems, Mann comes up with an exciting postfeminist theory of agency, a veritable 'gendered micropolitics' that is theoretically interesting and immediately applicable to the real world.

Tom Rockmore, Duquesne University

“Taking as her starting point the premise that changing gender relations is the most significant social phenomenon of our time, Patricia Mann has written a brilliant work in postmodern philosophy/social theory. By paying close attention in Micro Politics to the lived reality of women and men at the intersection of the personal and the political, she has also made a major contribution to feminist theory. For this book does not simply show that the dominant discourses of rights, individualism, and rational self-interest cannot adequately illuminate everyday experience. In it Mann develops an interpersonal, interactive analysis of agency that ultimately leads beyond gender to considerations of race, class, ethnicity, and sexual preference. Calling herself a second-generation postmodernist and postfeminist, Mann has produced a powerful new vision of the micro-political grounds for social transformation.” Jane Roland Martin

“Micro-Politics is highly provocative politically. This is because Mann grounds her theory in the perplexities of actual life, and partly because she casts a perceptive eye on those perplexities.” Journal of Politics

“Micro-Politics combines the conceptual enlightenment of philosophy with the concrete proposals of practical politics. Like feminism, it can help us to think and act differently. It explains how we can be living in a postfeminist era even as most women refuse to identify themselves as feminists.” Metaphilosophy