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New Left Review I/179, January-February 1990

Mary Evans

A Comment on Nicky Hart

Nicky Hart’s engaging essay on gender and stratification (nlr 175) is an eloquent contribution to debates about class. As she suggests, male academics, and particularly male academic sociologists, have a long tradition of assuming that women are peripheral to the process of class formation and the construction of class identity. The heroes of British sociology in the 1950s and 1960s were, at least to the Left, the manual male working class. The ‘lads’, as many a trade union leader described them, often assumed a responsibility for social change that was, to say the least, overdetermined. Indeed, throughout the 1950s it is possible to find in British literature, as much as the British academy, a mythologization of the working-class male and his part in both the class struggle and the personal encounters of sexual politics. Jimmy Porter and Arthur Seaton, in their different ways, resisted and denied the interests of women as forcefully as any academic.

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