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Exploring the Emergence of Moderate Feminism(s) in Contemporary Organizations

Lewis, Patricia and Adamson, Maria and Biese, Ingrid and Kelan, Elisabeth, eds. (2019) Exploring the Emergence of Moderate Feminism(s) in Contemporary Organizations. Gender Work & Organization, 26 (8). ISSN 0968-6673. E-ISSN 1468-0432. (doi:10.1111/gwao.12407) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:71092)

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This special issue seeks to investigate the complexities and complications attached to the public embracing of (some) feminist norms. While the apparent revival of feminism in the public sphere has been viewed optimistically, there has also been consternation at the selective take-up and restrained (or exploitative) implementation of feminist principles such as empowerment, choice and agency (Eisenstein, 2009). The selective take-up of feminist principles has been referred to by commentators such as Dean (2010) as the domestication of feminism. This process of domestication is defined as ‘…the explicit or implicit affirmation of a safe unthreatening form of feminism….whilst at the same time curtailing its more radical, political dimensions’ (Dean, 2010: 391). A good example of such domestication is the replacement of liberal feminism with neoliberal feminism. While both of these forms of feminism place an emphasis on individual empowerment, the former also includes a critique of systemic male dominance manifest in the culture of business, while the latter is devoid of such analysis. Thus within a context of domestication, feminist perspectives which are characterized by a critical collective ethos with an emphasis on shared rights as emblematic of feminist activity, are at best less favoured at worst cast aside in favour of a more moderate feminism, typified by an emphasis on the empowerment of individual women (Dean, 2010). Here, the onus for the achievement of equality is put on each individual female subject such that the ‘solution’ for gender issues is sought internally and not understood in terms of the reformation of external structures (Baker, 2010; Rottenberg, 2014). Different labels have been attached to the phenomenon of moderate feminism(s), including neoliberal feminism (Rottenberg, 2014), referred to above; choice feminism (Kirkpatrick, 2010); market feminism (Kantola & Squires, 2012); transnational business feminism (Roberts, 2015) and empowerment feminism (Banet-Weiser, 2015). Despite the variation in labels, central to all versions of moderate feminism is the individuated female subject who recognizes the persistence of gender inequalities but perceives the solution to inequality as dependent on individual action ‘…transforming collective liberation based upon a commitment to the common good into a limited form of individuated self-care’ (Rottenberg, 2014: 433). Thus moderate feminism(s) are exemplified by an implicit or explicit distancing from a broader critique of gendered inequalities. In doing this, the onus for the achievement of equality is placed on each individual woman with female success understood as being dependent on women’s own personal initiative and therefore interpreting the securing of gender parity as something which is internally referential as opposed to externally structured (Baker, 2010). While other disciplinary fields such as Cultural Studies and International Relations and Political Science have interrogated this emerging form of feminism in all its variations, less attention has been given to the notion of moderate feminism(s) within Gender and Organization Studies (GOS) and as such this special issue represents a first in the field.

Item Type: Edited Journal
DOI/Identification number: 10.1111/gwao.12407
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5351 Business
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Divisions > Kent Business School - Division > Kent Business School (do not use)
Depositing User: Patricia Lewis
Date Deposited: 15 Dec 2018 16:59 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Apr 2021 13:39 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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