In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development

by Carol Gilligan

Paperback, 1993




Harvard University Press (1993), Edition: Reissue, 184 pages


This edition contains a new preface by the author in which she reflects on the impact and implications of her findings since its publication in 1990.

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½ (93 ratings; 3.8)

User reviews

LibraryThing member TadAD
I wasn't sure I'd find much enjoyment in some scholarly non-fiction discussing psychological theory but I found this book extremely thought-provoking, particularly the first half. Gilligan's premise is that the overwhelming bulk of psychological theory has been based upon the study of males and
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that, while the resulting conclusions may be valid for boys and men, they are not for girls and women. She argues that the identity, worldview, developmental stages and perceptions of morality of females are different from those of males, and that failure to perceive that there are two modes of experience has left us with an incomplete dialectic that does not realize the necessity of both perspectives as complementary forces.

Having been published in the early 1980s, I'm sure these theories have been refuted, rebutted and otherwise argued about extensively in the succeeding three decades—I'm not knowledgeable enough about the field to form any judgment. Nonetheless, her findings are interesting to read, to say the least. From the opening chapter that looked at a study where "boys were seen quarrelling all the time, but not once was a game terminated…In contrast, the eruption of disputes among girls tended to end the game" to final chapters on the ethics of abortion, Gilligan presents her case that the earliest stages of gender identification form completely distinct—and differing—conceptions of self-hood, relationship and morality in the genders.

If I have one novice criticism, it is that Gilligan takes pains in her introduction to claim that her distinctions of two modes of thinking are separated "not by gender but by theme" and are not to "represent a generalization about either sex." These intentions appear to be summarily abandoned by the first chapter and the rest of the book proceeds to tell us that "men think this and women think that." It makes the arguments no less thought-provoking but it is a bit of disingenuousness that irks.

The interested audience for this work is likely somewhat limited—and, perhaps, those with interest will have found it already—but it was worth the time spent.
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LibraryThing member PuddinTame
This is a fascinating look at two different types of morality. One is based on absolute standards, and one on determining the best solution to a particular problem. Asked if it is moral to steal medication that one cannot pay for, some of her subjects argue that a truly moral society would not
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allow such a dilemma. Gilligan has been criticized for insisting that one is typically female and one is typically male. There is some merit to these arguments, but I think that is less important than the exploration of different types of moral reasoning.
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LibraryThing member Hazel66
Life-changing. This book has me questioning everything I have learned about the various theories of psychology.
LibraryThing member aulsmith
At base, Gilligan is arguing for a different Freudian narrative. Since I think the Freudian enterprise is pretty bankrupt, I was unimpressed, but as a feminist re-writing of a major academic paradigm, it's really a tour-de-force.
LibraryThing member neobardling
Every MAN should be requires to read this, And regardless of how fountains on the tragic circumstances of abortion and or Roe v. Wade , read this while you search your consciences. When unread this, I was sadly, completely ignorant of the medical procedure of abortion. I baked my eyes out upon
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learning of the process. Gilligan gives appropriate weight to the discussion.
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Original language


Physical description

8.25 inches


0674445449 / 9780674445444
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