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Negotiations of feminist identity and social relations at a London women's centre

Fleming, Hermione Gray; (1991) Negotiations of feminist identity and social relations at a London women's centre. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis provides an ethnographic account of a Women's Centre in North London and focuses upon the negotiation of a distinctive feminist community of identity at the Centre, in the context of the women's movement. This account takes issue with the usual classification of Women's Centres as one instance of a range of local manifestations of the women's movement and its implication that their organisation and structure can be inferred from an analysis of the movement. The thesis is organised in two parts. In the first part, the first chapter addresses methodological issues and argues that the thesis presents material which is not available from the sociology or history of the movement. The following three chapters consist of an analysis of feminism and the women's movement as the context of the Women's Centre. They examine its discursive, social and political dimensions, the different relations of its participants with the political cultures and social groups from which the movement emerged, and the forms and means of communication which structure its different dimensions. Contrary to the; commonly held view that the small group is the basic unit, of the movement, it is argued that the movement is organized on the basis of social networks. The second part of the thesis examines the feminist positions and social relations at the Women's Centre in terms of hierarchies of identity and difference. These hierarchies are demonstrated by the analysis of the spatial organization of the Centre and the social positions and life-stories of women using the Centre. The negotiation of identity is pursued in the final chapter in an examination of instrumental negotiations between the Centre and the local government. It is argued that the mobilisation of a distinctive community of identity at the Centre is achieved through the activation of cross-boundary social networks which extend across the social field of the women's movement and beyond it. The relatively permeable nature of the symbolic boundary of the Women's Centre permits both cross-boundary networks and strategic exclusions which function to accommodate different feminist positions. This accommodation of difference is contrasted with the fragmentation of the movement at a national level.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Negotiations of feminist identity and social relations at a London women's centre
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Social sciences; Feminist community of identity
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10124489
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