Sociology Index

PRIVATE DOMAIN OR PRIVATE SPHERE

The private sphere is a certain sector of societal life in which an individual enjoys a degree of authority, unhampered by interventions from governmental or other institutions. The distinction between the public domain or sphere and the private domain or sphere, became an important tool of early feminism and feminist analysis as it helped in describing and understanding women's location in society.

The parts of society consisting of politics and paid work are seen as the public domain and family life as the private domain or private sphere. According to Jurgen Habermas, the private sphere is that domain of one's life in which one works for oneself. In that domain, people work, exchange goods, and maintain their families; it is therefore, in that sense, separate from the rest of society. 

"Even when women have participated actively in wars and revolutions, they are heavily pressured to go back to the home and reconstruct the private domain to assert the return of peace and 'normality'." - Afshar H. - Women and wars: some trajectories towards a feminist peace.

Making women visible in disasters : Problematising the private domain - FORDHAM M. H., Anglia Polytechnic University, ROYAUME-UNI - Abstract: Gender awareness and sensitivity in disaster research and management remains uncommon and tends to focus on the developing rather than the developed world.

This paper uses a feminist oral geography to present some findings about women's experiences in two floods in Scotland. It is conceptualized around public and private (masculinized and feminized) space, problematizing the private domain and presenting it, in the feminist research tradition, as a legitimate object of research. It shows the ordinary and everyday to be more opaque and complex than usually imagined and makes recommendations for their recognition and incorporation into disaster management.

While there is a specific focus on the private domain of the home, this is not intended to reinforce gender stereotypes but simply to recognize the reality of many of the women interviewed.

It concludes that disaster research generally has yet to advance much beyond the earliest stages of feminist studies which merely sought to make women visible in society.

Sexual behavior was subject to a generally agreed code publicly enforced by both formal and informal social control. In postmodern society, both religion and sex are now generally seen as matters of private choice.