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The Puzzle of Gender in Liberal Theory: Tocqueville and Mill on Women and the Family

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Allen, Barbara
Date: 1995
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/4115
Sector: Social Organization
Subject(s): gender--history
Tocqueville, Alexis de
Mill, John Stuart
Abstract: "Long before feminist theorists popularized 'the personal is political' as a movement slogan, Alexis de Tocqueville argued that a self-governing public emerges from private associations. Not only political associations, but also work, the family, and religious practice were sites of self-governing enterprise. Far from being isolated spheres of activity, 'private' beliefs and undertakings permeate public life, developing the mores that sustain self-government. The vitality of self-government demands an enlarged vision of the public sphere, encompassing more than the institutions of law and government. The mores required to govern oneself in daily life are inseparable from the consciousness required to act politically in associations with others. Both are kindled in the home and other 'private' affiliations."

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