ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Teaching Social Theory


“Why are women complaining 24 years after the incident took place? The timing of these complaints makes their claims really suspect.” Holding a copy of Robin West’s celebrated essay on feminist jurisprudence that was being discussed in the class, I tried listening, interpreting and responding to a law student’s views on the ongoing #MeToo campaign. The male student seemed perturbed with the fact that “these women” were not approaching the legal machinery and were instead making “wild allegations.” It was not surprising to see that his views found noticeable support amongst quite a number of other students, both male and female. Of course, there were other students who seemed to understand the complexity of the issue at hand. For the remaining part of the interaction, I tried probing into the possible reasons behind the persistence in their minds of a rigid, fixed view about the dynamics of social structure, individual agency, power and its legitimacy. By the time the class ended, I could sense that my counterarguments, and attempts to problematise a clear-cut view of an otherwise complex issue had left little impact on my students. Similar observations are to be made with regard to other crucial determinants of social identity such as religion, class, caste, and race.

If one wishes to think through such classroom experiences, one will be bound to examine the subtle changes that have occurred in the environments in which social relationships and social theory are supposed to be delivered for the benefit of a receptive audience.

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Updated On : 24th May, 2019
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