ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Oral History Reconstructing Women s Role

September 20-27, 1986 Oral History: Reconstructing Women's Role U Kalpagam WOMENS studies has forced a rethinking among social scientists on the, incorporation of the individual, including individual experiences and consciousness, in the paradigms of social analysis without making the individual to determine nor be determined entirely by the social structure and processes. The relationship between the individual and the social, while recognised as complex is nevertheless important and cannot be excluded from social analysis. Feminist method as understood to be "the collective critical reconstruction of the meaning of women's social experience, as women live through it" recognises that not only women's conscious perception of their experiences is critical but that the method should incorporate the diversities of those experiences,1 The manner in which the diversities of individual experiences are built into the collective reconstitution of the meaning of social experience is a major challenge to social scientists in bringing the gap between the individual and the social. Oral history method plays an important role in this, even if at times only a limited one. This point is well articulated by Paul Thompson.2 For the historian in the mid-twentieth century is confronted by two major forms of theoretical interpretation. On the one hand there are the big theories of social organisation, social control, the division of labour, class struggle and social change: the func- tionalsit and other schools of sociology and the historical theory of Marxism. On the other hand there is the theory of individual personality, of language and the subconscious, represented by the psycho-analytical approach. They can be layered together, as in an individual biography, but no satisfactory way has yet been found of bonding them. Psycho-history, for example has simply resorted to the crude device of analysing whole groups

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