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The discourse of social innovation and gender equality
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå Centre for Gender Studies (UCGS).ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0172-2609
2021 (English)In: Prometheus, ISSN 0810-9028, E-ISSN 1470-1030, Vol. 37, no 1, p. 27-43Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In Swedish government discourse, social entrepreneurship and social innovation have come to be articulated as the solutions to a wide array of societal challenges and social problems. Within this discourse of social innovation, gender equality is articulated as a key determinant in conquering all societal challenges defined in the UN's Agenda 2030. The aim of this paper is to analyse the Swedish government's discourse on social innovation, and how it intertwines with gender equality in select government texts and media material. The analysis starts from the assertion that the dominant discourse on social innovation and social entrepreneurs is part of generating the possibilities and limits of social change. Earlier research on social innovation discourse has shown a strong bias towards private market solutions, and that social innovation has become an essential trait in the neoliberal reforming of the state. Because of their particular influence, governments' public endorsement of social entrepreneurs and social innovation in their work is one of the factors shaping the understanding of what social change and gender equality are and how they can be achieved. The analysis shows that the government discourse of social innovation produces an understanding of businesses as having a strong desire and capacity for social change and an altruistic agency. From a discursive point of view, this could be read as if the public sector is lacking such qualities and thus the responsibility for social change is placed in the hands of private corporations. Social change and gender equality are hence made intelligible within an economic logic, equating social change with doing business and gender equality with making profit. Gender equality is thus articulated through the discourse of social innovation, as a means to an end.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Pluto Journals , 2021. Vol. 37, no 1, p. 27-43
National Category
Gender Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-178492DOI: 10.13169/prometheus.37.1.0027Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85121258070OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-178492DiVA, id: diva2:1516775
Available from: 2021-01-12 Created: 2021-01-12 Last updated: 2023-10-30Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Feministiska fantasier: mellan marknad och feminism
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Feministiska fantasier: mellan marknad och feminism
2021 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
Feminist fantasies : between market and feminism
Abstract [en]

Feminism is highly visible in contemporary Sweden. The government labels itself feminist, artists and influencers take a stand for feminism, businesses are branded with feminist advertising and feminist tropes and symbols are visible on clothes, art and jewellery. What this kind of feminism means is not always easy to discern. However, what is evident is that this visible and popular kind of feminism is highly compatible with business and market values. From this starting point, the aim of this dissertation is to explore the different meanings of feminism in four different but concurrent arenas. By using psychoanalytical discourse theory, I analyse: (i) a particular governmental arena through a policy analysis of the governmental articulation of social innovation, (ii) a commercial arena through a study of an advertising campaign, (iii) a business arena through interviews with feminist business owners and (iv) an activist arena through interviews with house-squatters. I use these analyses to explore how feminism is used, articulated and understood at the nexus of the market and feminism. What feminist discourses are articulated in the studied arenas? How are feminist values utilised? What expressions of social change are made intelligible and desirable? How are feminist subjects and the preconditions for feminist mobilisation shaped?

Analysing the results of the four studies together shows that a fantasy of the benevolent business is created and sustained. Such a fantasy enhances a logic of good-hearted and ethical capitalism within which business and entrepreneurship become understood as activism, articulated as the ultimate solution to social problems. Such a logic inevitably shapes the preconditions for feminist organisation and activism, and encourages individual solutions at the expense of collective efforts. The fantasy of the benevolent business is immersed in and reinforced by fantasy echoes of feminist and social democratic history. These fantasy echoes both conceal inherent conflicts and intensify the force of the fantasy. In order to sustain this fantasy, the desire to make a difference is directed towards ethical practices. These are articulated as individual practices, thus saturating feminism and social change with individualism. Hence, feminist subjects are shaped into individual and entrepreneurial subjects who desire ethical choices. Furthermore, the thesis shows how “the public” is structured as the guarantor of the fantasy of the good business, which entails that certain expectations are attached to the idea of the public. Such expectations shape how feminism and the work towards social change are organised and practised.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2021. p. 83
Keywords
popular feminism, post feminism, social innovation, feminist business, activism, discourse theory, psychoanalysis, fantasy, enjoyment, Sweden, populärfeminism, postfeminism, social innovation, feministiska företag, aktivism, diskursteori, psykoanalys, fantasi, njutning, Sverige, feminism
National Category
Gender Studies
Research subject
gender studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-178496 (URN)978-91-7855-451-5 (ISBN)978-91-7855-452-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2021-02-05, Hörsal A, Lindellhallen, Umeå, 13:00 (Swedish)
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Supervisors
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Available from: 2021-01-15 Created: 2021-01-12 Last updated: 2021-01-13Bibliographically approved

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Lauri, Johanna

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