Newcastle University Business School

Event Item

Disorganizing freedom: Exploring feminism in the neoliberal context in online blogs of women-only business networks

Please note this is an internal event.

Date/Time: Wednesday 18 March, 14:30 - 16:30

Venue: Room 4.24, Newcastle University Business School

Women-only business networks are blossoming and are particularly popular with women in managerial positions, as well as entrepreneurs. Through an analysis of online blogs of women-only business networks, the study aims to better understand feminist collective practices in the neoliberal context and investigate how these can affect both the organizing and disorganizing of women’s freedom. The creation of and participation in women-only business networks aligns both with the longer history of (women’s) collective action being considered as a potent way to emancipation, and with the idea, in synch with neoliberalism, that the enactment of an entrepreneurial self to exploit personal potential is the primary route to women’s independence and freedom. The latter argument is at the core of the feminist critique that business-centered women’s collectives are framed in individualistic and market terms, infused by the values of neoliberalism, and consequently cease to raise the spectre of social, collective justice that collective action is meant to further. It is argued that a discourse of empowerment has replaced ‘true’ equality, as expressed by liberal feminist ideals, leading to an ‘undoing’ of feminism. Digital platforms are an inevitable contact points into women-only networks and groups, and the locus between digitalisation and feminism is deemed to be a turning point in feminism. We focus specifically on blog posts, understood as a contemporary extension to diary-based research, which is a long-established means of collecting data that can help us understand social actors and their day-to-day experience and reflections. We aim to answer questions such as: what does collective action mean in such networks? How does the framing of gender inequality and of solutions to attain freedom contribute to or impede the progress of gender equality in the world of work, and ultimately women’s liberation? In addition, we seek to identify interstices for resistance and change that are available in all feminist ideologies.

Guest speaker: Elina Meliou – Aston University