We refer in the title of this lecture to feminist social theories, the plural indicating that we are confronted with a fundamental problem in seeking to describe this field – namely the fact that there is no such thing as feminist social theory, but at best a variety of such theories. The theoretical landscape within feminism is so tremendously multifarious because feminist theorists, whose concrete goals and projects do not, of course, always tally, draw on very different theoretical building blocks to construct their arguments. You have encountered the vast majority of these theories in the previous lectures. While few feminists build directly on Parsonian ideas, a large number make use of conflict theoretical arguments, for example. And the strongest and most influential currents within the feminist debate at present can be traced back to ethnomethodological, poststructuralist and Habermasian positions. In addition, the strong influence of psychoanalysis is also unmistakable.
The question thus arises as to whether this heterogeneous theoretical field of feminism features any kind of common denominator, especially given that feminist debates are being carried on not just within sociology, but also in psychology, anthropology, history, philosophy and political theory; here, disciplinary boundaries play a rather minor role (see for example Will Kymlicka, Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Introduction, pp. 238ff.).