Disenfranchised women, identity and power : the potential of community arts and cooperatives

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Disenfranchised women, identity and power : the potential of community arts and cooperatives

 

Author: Chan, Fung-yi Pauline
Title: Disenfranchised women, identity and power : the potential of community arts and cooperatives
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2009
Subject: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations.
Women -- China -- Hong Kong.
Women -- China -- Hong Kong -- Social conditions.
Arts and society -- China -- Hong Kong.
Cooperative societies -- China -- Hong Kong.
Department: Dept. of Applied Social Sciences
Pages: ix, 416 p. : col. ill. ; 30 cm.
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b2321018
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/4231
Abstract: This thesis attempts to re-validate the unique social contributions of marginalised and working women to their communities and to society-at-large, contributions which tend to be obscured if not forgotten, given meanwhile global dynamics of exclusion as they are at work in the capitalist society of Hong Kong. The main theme of the thesis converges on an investigation as to how disenfranchised women workers do and can renegotiate their identity, reclaim their dignity and regenerate social power through action processes; that is, how their transformation from a transient state of imposed victimhood into active agency could be made possible. Adopting a post-structuralist position, I examine the possibilities for change in the spaces 'between' culture and economy; such spaces, I shall argue, offer the possibility to destabilise institutionally legitimated knowledge and the apparent common-sensical nature of our understanding of the economy, including dominant views about work, its value and the biases against women's skills and productive capacity. The feminist critique of the underlying assumptions about 'rational economic man' opens up possibilities for imaginative and alternative action in the era of globalisation. Overcoming the assumed binaries within structuralist analyses and interventions based thereon, I will suggest creative transformations based on the culture of community development, the aesthetic labours of women, and representational strategies to negotiate power and contribute to a politics of recognition. I have taken the role of an action researcher, as I believe in the possibilities and worth of partnership between grassroots communities and universities both to affect positive social change and to develop socially useful knowledge. Apart from process accounts and documentary materials, the first set of data includes interviews with six women with different residential histories in Hong Kong, who came together to revalidate and use their sewing skills in making "the quilt of rainbow power" to send a colourful message about the value of women's work to their communities and to Hong Kong society at large. The cooperative project, in turn, includes interviews with nine cooperative members and the chief organiser, as well as other evidence of their attempts at developing alternative options at the social margins of the dominant economy.

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