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Feminism, citizenship and the media: an ethnographic study of identity processes within four women's associations
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMK).
2000 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The primary purpose of this doctoral thesis is to investigate the media practices of four Swedish women's associations and some of their individual members in order to gain insight into the role of the media in these women's individual and collective processes of identity formation as feminists and citizens. The studied media practices include first, the individual and collective meaning-making processes in which the women are involved when interpreting the media they use in everyday life, and, secondly, the associations' public-oriented practices, i.e. the production of their own media and their participation in, and interplay with, the mass media in order to diffuse their own meanings. These public-oriented practices have thus far been given scant attention in feminist media research inspired by public sphere theory. This work constitutes an attempt to fill this gap.

My theoretical starting points are to be found at the intersections of several research traditions: the framework of the public sphere, the media and democracy; recent feminist theory on the public sphere; citizenship and narrative identity theory; newer perspectives on social movements inspired by the sociology of culture; and Swedish and Scandinavian studies of women's movements. The methods used were ethnography, the narrative study of lives and text analysis, and the empirical work included three main steps: participant observation at the associations' meetings, individual and group interviews with members, and analysis of the media coverage of the associations.

Different kinds of feminist identity were developed in the four groups and the role of the mass media in the ongoing reconstruction of this identity was pervaded by a series of tensions: between criticism of media performances and the dependence on the news media which people feel they have for keeping oneself informed, between the symbolic goods expected and those actually delivered by the media, and between the increased self-esteem and pride over the coverage and attention received from the media and frustration over the mechanisms governing the interplay between associations and mass media. In this interplay, a public identity of the associations is constructed, which, regardless of whether it is accepted or rejected by them, is nevertheless incorporated in the groups' ongoing processes of collective identity formation and has consequences for their work.

For most of the women included in this study, citizenship was a "silent" narrative identity: it lay deeply embedded in, and underpinned their feminist identities. The taken-for-granted citizen's right to participate in the polity with one's own voice sustained, for instance, the women's identification as producers of political talk, one of the main identifications comprised by their feminist collective identity.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Institutionen för journalistik, medier och kommunikation (JMK) , 2000. , 314 p.
Doktorsavhandlingar från JMK, ISSN 1102-3015 ; 1102-3015 ;12
Keyword [en]
National Category
Media and Communications
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-7630ISBN: 91-88354-17-2OAI: diva2:198724
Public defence
2000-01-29, JMK-salen, Karlavägen 104, Stockholm, 12:00
Available from: 2000-01-08 Created: 2000-01-08Bibliographically approved

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