Women's participation in community-based grassroots organizations : oppression or liberation?

Pao Yue-kong Library Electronic Theses Database

Women's participation in community-based grassroots organizations : oppression or liberation?


Author: Yu, Fung-ying
Title: Women's participation in community-based grassroots organizations : oppression or liberation?
Degree: M.Phil.
Year: 2002
Subject: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Women in community organization -- China -- Hong Kong
Department: Dept. of Applied Social Sciences
Pages: 187 leaves ; 30 cm
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b1667780
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/889
Abstract: Community organizing aims at empowering the grassroots to improve their life and achieve liberation through collective participation. Will this effect be valid for women too? To address the gender question, this study intends to explore the possibility and the construction of women's oppression and liberation in their participation in community organization. The analytical framework of the exploration is based on the perspective of feminist poststructuralism trying to reveal the constitution of power relations and subjectivity within various discourses in three main aspects of group life including involvement in leadership, division of labour and the obtaining of resources. When designing the methodology for the fieldwork, I have adopted a qualitative research approach based on feminist consciousness and employed participant observation and in-depth interview as the data collection methods. In order to have an in-depth analysis of women's experience, one community organization has been selected as a sample case for its potential to learn most about the problem. The examination found that gender differentiation was sustained in women's participation in the community. The inequality was constructed and reinforced through the bias toward knowledge based on literacy and rational analysis which favoured men, and the interactive legitimizing process of traditional gender roles during participants' community involvement. Consequently, the unequal gender relations were sustained in the community organizing process. However, the power relations within the group were always dynamic. Women could still improve their resources and increase their self-confidence through active involvement in the community. Therefore, community participation did provide chances for women to seek changes and liberation. These findings imply that the sensitivity to oppression in all forms, particularly gender inequality, is a must in community organizing. Otherwise, community workers' advocacy of social justice to be achieved through organizing and empowering the grassroots would be a myth. Also, it is necessary to do more research on the construction process of women's oppression and their struggles for liberation in the local context. By going beyond structural determinism, we may be able to challenge gender inequality obscured in our daily life and work towards a more egalitarian world.

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