Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Young women's engagement with feminism in a postfeminist and neoliberal cultural context
Author: Wray, Rebecca
ISNI:       0000 0004 7651 7444
Awarding Body: Leeds Beckett University
Current Institution: Leeds Beckett University
Date of Award: 2018
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
This thesis aims to explore young women's relationship with feminism against the backdrop of a long-running media claim that 'feminism is dead' from a feministinfluenced poststructuralist perspective. Aapola, Gonick, and Harris (2004) note how young women tend to be constructed in three specific ways: 1) as repudiating a feminist subjectivity, 2) as apolitical and apathetic, and 3) as interpreting the world through an individualistic lens. I agree with theirs and Griffin's (2001) sentiment that many assumptions have been made about young women's relationships with feminism. I sought to build on previous research by conducting three studies. Study 1 and Study 2 were both media-text studies which investigated contemporary discourses relating to gender and feminism which are made available in (S1) women's monthly magazines and (S2) online feminist blogs. Study 3 used minifocus groups with young women aged 18-30 years, in order to examine how discourses around feminism are co-constructed, as well as to identify which discourses from media (specifically women's magazines and feminist blogs) women reproduced and/or challenged in their talk. A feminist-informed poststructuralist discourse analysis was used to analyse each dataset. This research identifies not only a strong underlying core of individualism running throughout participants' talk (and operating across both media datasets), but also participants frequently repudiated terms such as 'feminism' and 'women's rights' and instead positioned themselves as 'equal rights advocate'. While participants deployed a discourse of gender neutrality to advocate a degendering of women's rights issues to being 'human rights', participants were deploying this discourse to suggest that men 'have it bad too'. Many participants seemed to prefer to look at equality issues through a genderneutral lens, and some participants felt unable to adopt a feminist subjectivity due to its perceived 'exclusion' of men. A feminist subjectivity was constructed by participants as passive and dependent. Instead, participants appeared to adopt the (apparently) active subject position of the 'can-do girl', who has individual agency and does not need to rely on support from the state, nor have any need for involvement in collective action such as feminist politics.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available