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Feministiska fantasier: mellan marknad och feminism
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå Centre for Gender Studies (UCGS).ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0172-2609
2021 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
Feminist fantasies : between market and feminism (English)
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 [en]
popular feminism, post feminism, social innovation, feminist business, activism, discourse theory, psychoanalysis, fantasy, enjoyment, Sweden
Keywords [sv]
populärfeminism, postfeminism, social innovation, feministiska företag, aktivism, diskursteori, psykoanalys, fantasi, njutning, Sverige, feminism
National Category
Gender Studies
Research subject
gender studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-178496ISBN: 978-91-7855-451-5 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7855-452-2 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-178496DiVA, id: diva2:1516826
Public defence
2021-02-05, Hörsal A, Lindellhallen, Umeå, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

Uppgift om ISBN för digitalt format saknas i publikationen.

Available from: 2021-01-15 Created: 2021-01-12 Last updated: 2021-01-13Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. The discourse of social innovation and gender equality
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The discourse of social innovation and gender equality
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
National Category
Gender Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-178492 (URN)10.13169/prometheus.37.1.0027 (DOI)2-s2.0-85121258070 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2021-01-12 Created: 2021-01-12 Last updated: 2023-10-30Bibliographically approved
2. Coffee by women: the 'duty of ethical enjoyment'
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Coffee by women: the 'duty of ethical enjoyment'
2019 (English)In: Cultural Studies, ISSN 0950-2386, E-ISSN 1466-4348, Vol. 33, no 5, p. 866-887Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article explores the contemporary trend of deploying feminist values in the case of ethical branding. Using the psychoanalytical concepts logics of fantasy and enjoyment, we analyse the campaign by Swedish coffee brand Zoégas, Coffee by Women, to understand how a combination of development discourse, ‘women’s empowerment’ and the opportunity to ‘do good’ is employed to sell coffee. The analysis shows that the campaign depicts the threat of a future lack of coffee, creating anxiety in the consumer, supposedly motivating her to purchase Zoégas, as Coffee by Women is claimed to secure and educate new generations of coffee farmers. Simultaneously, this is presented as ‘empowering women’ in the global South. We argue that this narrative builds on a colonial fantasy of global sisterhood and shared interests that works to conceal the political conflicts connected to global trade and climate change. Through a commodification of feminist values and aesthetics, this fantasy works to redirect the desire for social change towards consumption, offering an enjoyable solution that disregards any wider responsibility. It has been argued that the structure of the social bond before the era of mass consumption was characterized by a prohibition on individual enjoyment for the benefit of the common good. After the arrival of mass consumption, the social bond instead became marked by a duty to enjoy. In the contemporary context of ethical capitalism, we suggest that the social bond is rather structured by a ‘duty of ethical enjoyment’, containing elements of both prohibition and pleasure.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis Group, 2019
Keywords
Feminism, ethical consumption, women’s empowerment, advertising, fantasy, duty of ethical enjoyment
National Category
Gender Studies
Research subject
gender studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-152540 (URN)10.1080/09502386.2018.1510532 (DOI)000478091200007 ()2-s2.0-85053057242 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2018-10-10 Created: 2018-10-10 Last updated: 2023-03-24Bibliographically approved
3. Feminism means business: Business feminism, sisterhood and visibility
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Feminism means business: Business feminism, sisterhood and visibility
2021 (English)In: NORA: Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research, ISSN 0803-8740, E-ISSN 1502-394X, Vol. 29, no 2, p. 83-95Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

By interviewing self-proclaimed feminists with small-scale businesses who sell feminist commodities, the aim of this article is to understand why and how the market has become an arena for doing feminism and what this can tell us about contemporary feminism. Using theories of postfeminism and popular feminism in combination with Lacanian discourse theory, the analysis shows that feminism is renegotiated into ownership by reshaping the feminist discourse of sisterhood into business support and advice. Furthermore, competition is reshaped into a positive value of expanding the feminist community, and making profit is reshaped into a feminist discourse of equal pay. Business feminism produces an individual, visible, affluent and entrepreneurial feminist subject who does not challenge economic structures or ownership conditions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2021
Keywords
Business feminism, psychoanalysis, fantasy, popular feminism, feminist commodities
National Category
Gender Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-178493 (URN)10.1080/08038740.2021.1877193 (DOI)000620845900001 ()2-s2.0-85101394202 (Scopus ID)
Note

Originally included in thesis in manuscript form.

Available from: 2021-01-12 Created: 2021-01-12 Last updated: 2021-07-02Bibliographically approved
4. Social movements, squatting and communality: ethical practices and re‐subjectification processes
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Social movements, squatting and communality: ethical practices and re‐subjectification processes
2019 (English)In: Subjectivity, ISSN 1755-6341, E-ISSN 1755-635X, Vol. 12, no 2, p. 154-170Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article explores openings for re-subjectification in a case of a house squat for free culture. Combining Lacanian discourse theory and the ‘ontology of political possibilities’, I explore how political subjectivities might (trans)form during such a process. Through interviews with participating squatters, the analysis suggests that this theoretical and methodological framing can capture moments of re-subjectification that are often overlooked. Via the performance of democratic values, a community knowledge became embodied in the subjects, which arguably carries the possibility of a redirection of desire, away from individualism and towards cultivating their political subjects towards communality. The squat can be read as a process of cultivating a shared identification with, and desire for, commonality, democracy and the possibility of a different relationship with the participants’ political lives. This analysis thus contribute to acknowledging openings for re-subjectification in cases that at first glance are dismissed as failures.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2019
Keywords
re-subjectification, failure, political subjectivity, psychoanalysis, possibilities, house squat
National Category
Gender Studies
Research subject
gender studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-158156 (URN)10.1057/s41286-019-00067-8 (DOI)000469515300004 ()2-s2.0-85064459437 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2019-04-15 Created: 2019-04-15 Last updated: 2023-03-24Bibliographically approved

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