Reassessing the Feminist Theoretical Project in Law

Posted: 12 Feb 2001

See all articles by Joanne Conaghan

Joanne Conaghan

University of Kent - Kent Law School


This article seeks to address the current state of theoretical debate within feminist legal studies in the United Kingdom and beyond. It is part map, part critique of dominant theoretical trends-an attempt to identify and explore a range of questions about feminist scholarly engagement in law, including the relationship between academic feminism and political activism, the distinction (if any) between 'feminist' analyses and broader engagements with law and gender, and the normative underpinnings of feminist legal scholarship. The author makes no pretence to neutrality on these issues, questioning the perceived 'drift' between political and academic feminism, and arguing strongly for the recognition and realization of feminism's normative and transformative aspirations. Similarly, she challenges the emergence of an 'anti-essentialist' norm in feminist discourse, and reaffirms the value of 'women-centred' feminist approaches. Finally, this article is also a personal venture, a 'stock-taking' exercise which seeks to interrogate the author's own understanding of what feminist legal work entails.

Suggested Citation

Conaghan, Joanne, Reassessing the Feminist Theoretical Project in Law. Available at SSRN:

Joanne Conaghan (Contact Author)

University of Kent - Kent Law School ( email )

Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NS
United Kingdom

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