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Where Silence Speaks: Feminism, Social Theory, and Religion
by Victoria Lee Erickson
List Price: Paperback $24.00

Sigler Price: Paperback $11.00 

Paperback - 219 pp
ISBN 0800626354
Fortress Press


Victoria Erickson's Where Silence Speaks is the first sustained feminist appraisal of the social theory of religion.

How do the classic social theories portray women's religious roles?  How does the undeniable power of religion actually function within the full web of power relations that constitute society?  Does social theory itself contribute to women's oppression or liberation?

In the silences of the discipline's giants on questions of gender and power, Erickson hears a damning complicity in women's oppression.

Ironically, she finds, precisely in their asserting religion's distinctive import by postulating a separate religious realm, the sacred, social theories have buttressed the strict dualism that is the source and enforcer of socially constructed gender roles.

Accounts of religion that simply assert the sacrality of women's experience without confronting the disastrous consequences of the sacred/profane axiom, she argues, fall short of doing justice to either women or religion.

Erickson's work concludes with a brilliant and tantalizing proposal to reorient the whole discipline around hearing women's actual voices to create a feminist social theory of religion.

Editorial Review

This book provides the first feminist reconstruction of Emile Durkheim's and Max Weber's sociology of religion.  It both uncovers their gender-blind approach and makes use of their insights in view of feminist sociological theory of religion.  Erickson's work is in fact an eminent contribution to such a theory.

Edmund Arens
University of Münster

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