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Property, Women and Politics: Subjects or Objects?

Property, Women and Politics: Subjects or Objects?

Donna L. Dickenson

ISBN: 978-0-745-61321-5

Oct 1997, Polity

240 pages

In Stock



Although many feminist authors have pointed out the ways in which women have been property, they have been less successful in suggesting how women might become the subjects rather than the objects of property-holding. Property, Women and Politics: Subjects or Objects? considers the relationship between women and property from a novel viewpoint, synthesizing political theory from liberal and non-liberal traditions, feminist critiques, history and social policy. The volume ranges across a series of historical and anthropological studies which include the property position of women in classical Greece, the Anglo-American doctrine of coverture, nineteenth-century prostitution, and structural adjustment programmes in sub-Saharan Africa. It includes a comprehensive critique of the treatment of property by both mainstream political theorists and such important second-wave feminists as Irigaray, MacKinnon and Pateman.

Property, Women and Politics deconstructs and contests the concept of property. But it also uses important insights in recent feminist thought to suggest productive directions for a reconstructed theory of property, one in which women's work counts. The reconstructed model is applied to such pressing areas of medical ethics as egg and sperm donation, contract motherhood, abortion, and the sale of foetal tissue. In addition, it shows how we can revise our assumptions about the 'marriage contract'.

This book is intended for a wide readership in women's studies, political theory, medical ethics, law and social policy, and for both academic and a lay reader, combining as it does current topics of public policy with a sound theoretical discussion.


1. Property, Particularism and Moral Persons.

2. Origins, Narratives and Households.

3. Contract, Marriage and Property in the Person.

4. Property and Moral Self-Development.

5. Labour, Alienation and Reproduction.

6. Another Sort of Subject?.

7. Reconstructing Property.




""Donna Dickenson has chosen to focus upon the propertylessness and impaired agency that continue to mark the situation of a large number of women in Western societies and the lives of the overwhelming majority in the developing world. She advocates their case in a lucid and compelling argument and engages her readers' interest in such an effective way that her book must count as a major contribution to the study of women and gender across the boundaries of academic disciplines."" Ursula Vogel, University of Manchester, Women's Philosophy Review
* An important contribution to the literature on the relationship between women and property.
* Evaluates the concept of property and uses important insights in recent feminist thought to suggest a new direction in the theory of property which systematically incorporates women's work.
* Provides a novel perspective by synthesising the political theory of the liberal and non-liberal traditions, feminist critiques and social policy.