Critical Summary on Carol Gilligan’s “In a Different Voice”

Carol Gilligan’s “In a Different Voice. Psychological Theory of Women’s Development” is often referred to as current classic. When it was published it revolutionized the world of psychology to an extent that new research and educational initiatives were given birth to.

Gilligan brought women’s voices into psychological theory and changed the subject of men and women conversation.

Her book was actually the first to start considering women in social scientific theorizing, as Carol Gilligan touched upon the issues of men and women interaction and their behavior peculiarities in a different light. Therefore, she tried to correct male’s misconceptions dealing with females.

The book was a complaint against male centered psychology of Freud and Erickson as well as Kohlberg’s stage male concentrated approach. She considered it to be unjust to leave women behind psychology and taking Kohlberg’s research as basis she criticized his staged approach supported only by male interviewing. Gilligan formed her own stage theory of moral development of females and insisted that her work was grounded on listening and attempted to dethrone Kohlberg’s so-called objective position espoused within the canon of traditional social science research which was unreceptive to the peculiarities of voice. Conducting interviews with females, Gilligan concluded that women were thinking more about the caring thing, while men were thinking of what the rules allowed. Emphasizing that words “better” or “worse” were inappropriate, Gilligan claimed that males and females viewed relationship differently. Hence, the masculine approach is more concentrated on “ethic of justice”, while the feminine attitude is more of the “ethic of care”. Gilligan opposed to those who presented women as inferior in their personal or moral development and this way went against the current of traditional psychological opinion.

Though contemporary psychologists may argue Carol Gilligan’s ideas about and consider some of them quite schematic and issues unsolved, the book is an impressive ray of light which provided new approach and thoughtful sophisticated response to morality questions.

Leave a Reply