Search Results

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 14 items for

  • Author or Editor: Lena Dominelli x
Clear All Modify Search
Author:

This chapter argues that monetarised conceptualisations of poverty cannot address the multiple complexities of poverty because these focus on individual behaviour, and ignore its multiple aspects including its relationality, emotionality, social exclusion, and structural forms of inequality. By exploring the conceptual limitations of absolute and relative poverty, this chapter reconceptualises poverty holistically within participatory relational space, uncovering its relational dimensions involving self-fulfilment, agency, and realisation of welfare entitlements rooted in universal human rights not nation-state-based citizenship. It situates poverty within participatory relational space which combines action within domestic relational space and public relational space to transcend concepts that portray poor people as passive objects of policymakers. This chapter also contends that the nation-state has ‘a duty of care’ towards those residing within its borders that requires tackling structural inequalities and 21st century realities on the European continent. Addressing the structural welfare needs of both citizens and non-citizens will strengthen social solidarity and endorse new policies and practices to eradicate poverty in Europe.

Restricted access
Local and global perspectives
Author:

Historically, women and men have been assigned to different spaces in their communities. Although several decades of feminist social action have made significant progress to the social, economic and political condition of many women, change has been uneven and there remain considerable advancements to be made globally.

This valuable third edition considers women’s changing position in the world today, updating some of the perennial challenges that women face and examining new and emerging issues including digital exclusion, sustainable community development and environmental justice.

Published in association with the British Association of Social Workers, this book is an invaluable resource for students and practitioners of social work, community work, sociology and social policy.

Restricted access
Author:

Women have been involved in sustained action in their communities for centuries as they have sought to improve conditions for their children, wider family networks and communities and acquire gender equality. Women and men continue to occupy different spaces in their communities: women in the home in domestic relational space and men in the public sphere or public relational space (Mitchell, 2009). Domestic relational space may be an unsafe space for women because violence in intimate relationships bedevils social relations in all countries. UNWomen claims that, globally, one woman in three experiences violence from intimate partners, a ratio that rises to 70% in some countries. Moreover, 700 million women alive today were married when under the age of 18 (UNDESA, 2015). Feminist social action has challenged the assignation of women to an often unsafe private sphere and exclusion from the public arena, especially those elements involving paid employment, political representation and leadership in key global corporations and public institutions. Some progress has been made after centuries of feminist organising in all three of these domains. Gains have been uneven, with different countries holding pride of place in various arenas. For example, Rwanda scores high in parliamentary political representation but this is coupled with widespread levels of poverty. Women constitute 70% of poor people globally without this being reflected in political institutions. In the West, women continue to press for higher levels of political representation, and only a few have broken the corporate ‘glass ceiling’. Much remains to be accomplished everywhere.

Gender is fractured along and interacts with various social divisions, through intersectionality.

Restricted access
Author:

Communities as contested spaces are conceived as either warm, feel-good locations admired by politicians regardless of political hue, or conflict-ridden territories that defy rationality. For example, men in societies of armed conflict dominate women through patriarchal relations of control that suppress women’s autonomous action alongside controlling entire populations. Gender relations configure the categories of men and women in relationships revolving within a patriarchal binary dyad of superiority and inferiority. These relations are enacted within community spaces that favour men over women by propagating a deficit model of gendered relations to define patriarchal gendered spaces and suggest that women lack the attributes ascribed to men. Some of the spaces that perform gender (Butler, 1990) are defined as men-only or women-only. Women are not passive in performing gender. They exercise agency in multidimensional, fluid communities that undergo processes of affirmation, resistance and change as relations (re)form through complex negotiations involving diverse intersecting social divisions including age, ability, sexual orientation, class and ethnicity (Crenshaw, 2012). Through performance, patriarchal gender relations can be affirmed even as women resist the hierarchies of oppression that feature in their lives (Butler, 1990).

Gendered relations in Britain assume a white, middle-class heteronormativity that privileges white middle-class men who subscribe to a hegemonic or ‘straight’ masculinity accompanied by a subjugated femininity and non-hegemonic masculinities. Men who are different – for example black men, gay men, disabled men – are configured as having subjugated masculinities (Connell, 1995). But they rank above women within wider social groupings (Whitehead, 2002). This arrangement between men and women is assumed to be natural, immutable and unlikely to be challenged by the majority population.

Restricted access
Author:

Traditional community action has failed to deal adequately with individual need and respond appropriately to individual circumstances and personal expectations due to its commitment to collective action. Arguing that structural arrangements have a direct bearing on personal experiences, feminist community workers have addressed this problem by linking personal woes to structural relationships and theorising individual predicaments as reflective of specific constellations of social relations as stipulated in public relational space which impacts upon domestic relational space. This chapter examines feminist action on the personal level. It considers feminist ways of working that tap into the dynamics of identity formation, building confidence and self-esteem, raising consciousness, advocacy and counselling. It also explores services that women have developed to engage with these issues, including those involving feminist counselling and other therapeutic interventions.

Each individual woman has a very personal experience of oppression, albeit one given meaning by engaging with social situations, institutions and structures. Feminists have developed theories and practices to reduce individual women’s suffering and eliminate collective hardship. Feminist therapy, including counselling, feminist social work and practice in feminist health collectives, has been central in developing feminist responses to individual women while at the same time locating their emotional distress within the structural constraints that impact upon their personal lives, lending credence to the slogan ‘the personal is political’ in linking individual concerns with structural considerations.

Feminists have used consciousness-raising in individual work and small groups to highlight the connections between individual women’s plights and their social subordination (Howell and Bayes, 1981; Bondi and Burman, 2001).

Restricted access
Author:

Women have a lengthy history of struggling for gender parity, but achievements fall short of women’s aspirations. Thus, feminist social action continues to promote women’s well-being holistically throughout society. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) reflect the international community’s commitment to realising gender equality by 2030. Time will tell whether these objectives will materialise globally.

Feminist social action has been a primary vehicle for changing gendered relations. Redefining social problems has been central to this, reconfiguring private concerns as public issues for society to address, thus eschewing views that personal woes are best solved by individuals or forgotten. Feminists have targeted public policies, legislation, policymakers and public indifference to highlight women’s stories of private misery; demonstrate that some experiences can resonate with women everywhere; and demand social change. Feminist social activists did not wait for others to produce new provisions. Women with personal experiences of issues embarked on actions to develop alternative services that were created by and run for women.

In this chapter, I focus on examples of feminist social action that brought women and supporters together in groups and collaborative networks to change social attitudes about men’s and women’s roles in society, secure women-friendly legislation and develop alternative facilities for women. Acknowledging that the ‘personal is political’ and the ‘political is personal’ assists in examining feminist groups, networks and processes through which feminist community workers identify problems to be addressed, how women organise collectively and resolve difficulties successfully by engaging women in community action. I consider feminist campaigns that highlight techniques and forms of organisation for overcoming isolation and securing changes in matters important to women in Chapter Five, although there are overlaps between these and the forms of social organisation that this chapter covers.

Restricted access
Author:

Collective action is a crucial aspect of feminist activities aimed at securing transformational social change including campaigns and mass mobilisations to achieve specific goals that can cover housing issues, social problems including poverty, transportation and the formulation and implementation of community development, sustainability and resilience strategies. This chapter draws on case studies to consider how communities enhance their capacities to form alliances and develop strategies for mass actions and community resilience, such as the development of hurricane action plans for Charleston, South Carolina in the USA; or anti-poverty projects promoting entrepreneurialism and enterprises run by women in South Africa. Women have achieved considerable success in local community-based projects founded upon their local knowledge, skills, networks and community mobilisation capacities. Some initiatives have floundered against men’s opposition. Lessons can be learnt from the fragmentation of the women’s movement and its failure to sustain the creativity, vision and ambition of the 1960s and 1970s. Mainstream feminists’ neglect of marginalised women’s voices, particularly those of black and minority ethnic women, queer women and diverse sexual orientations, fractured and fragmented a movement that remains in that mode. In contemporary society, the securitisation of the state and legitimacy of Islamophobia have increased schisms within feminist groups and communities. This leaves the concern of how to enable women to form alliances that promote unity of purpose while recognising their differences.

In this chapter, I scrutinise feminist campaigns around childcare, domestic violence against women and children, child sexual abuse, and peace. I show that feminist community activists use ‘the personal is political’ as a central organising principle to redefine matters that society relegates to the private realm outside the scope of social concerns that are public and affect everyone.

Restricted access
Author:

Tackling inequality in the workplace remains an important arena for feminist interventions that encourage social and economic developments for women in both waged labour and unpaid caring work. In undertaking this, they tackled both public relational spaces and domestic relational spaces respectively. Feminist social action has exposed the monotony and drudgery characterising housework (Oakley, 1974); highlighted damage to women’s emotional development and careers caused by the gendered division of labour in both domestic (Gavron, 1966) and waged employment (Armstrong, 1984; Coyle and Skinner, 1988); and exposed the pervasiveness of sexual harassment in workplaces and violence in the home (Benn and Sedley, 1982). Feminists also identified the compulsion for men to persist in emotionally and physically numbing work to act as economic providers for their families (Dominelli, 1986a).

Feminist action in the workplace has revealed the connections and contradictions between a woman’s experience of herself as a nurturer in the community and employee in paid employment. Feminists have organised within equal opportunities initiatives to promote egalitarian relations at work, in political parties, autonomous feminist groups, trade union movements and boardrooms to secure social justice for women through both male-dominated and women-only groups.

In this chapter, I examine feminist action in creating working environments more conducive to women’s workplace rights and consider the patchy nature of feminist achievements on this front. I highlight the importance of dealing with equal pay, sexual harassment and promotion prospects. I also look at the relationship between waged work, unpaid domestic labour and their impact upon men’s and women’s lives in the home, including the division of domestic caring for children and older dependants.

Restricted access
Author:

Women’s inequality is evident throughout society and needs fundamental changes to occur in governance and decision-making structures for an egalitarian world to emerge. Around 52% of women in intimate relationships such as marriage still do not make their own decisions about consensual sex, contraceptives and health services. Moreover, 19% of women aged between 19 and 49 claim to have endured physical and/or sexual violence within the past year. Intimate partners were the perpetrators of almost half of the murders of women. In the UK, on average two women are being murdered per week (ONS, 2016). Violence in intimate relationships is also an issue of representation and governance, reflecting women’s disempowerment in both domestic and public relational spaces. Globally, child marriages affect 700 million or one in four young girls, and female genital mutilation (FGM) occurs to 200 million or one in three of them (Kelleher, 2014). The global figure varies according to region and country, being higher in some and lower in others, depending on cultural factors. Other types of inequalities also abound. For example, in the USA, women undertake 2.8 hours of unpaid domestic work daily compared to1.7 hours for men. Women earn 80 cents for every dollar (100 cents) men make. This figure declines to 60 cents for black women in America. Such data makes the case for addressing gender equality on a holistic basis involving leadership, economic empowerment, freedom from violence and quality education for women ever more urgent. In this context, tackling the political representation deficit becomes a key step in the struggle for equality.

Restricted access
Author:

Traditional forms of community engagement ignored sustainability unless they were directly concerned with environmental matters. Fortunately, community sustainability in the twenty-first century is becoming a central part of community development discourses given current concerns with environmental issues, (hu)man-made and natural disasters including climate change, environmental justice and the promotion of green social work (Dominelli, 2012b). Sustainability was defined in the Brundtland Report (1987) as having the capacity to meet today’s needs without jeopardising the capacity of future generations to meet theirs. This definition implies using resources wisely for current and future generations of people and is now supported by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There are 17 SDGs, all having to meet worthy aims such as ending poverty, hunger, gender discrimination and developing sustainable cities and environments. I have expanded the definition of sustainability to include all living things – animals and plants – and the physical environment in a holistic approach to social justice, structural inequalities, interdependency and connectedness in caring for and protecting planet earth indefinitely (Dominelli, 2012b). This chapter explores women’s actions in developing sustainable communities, the challenges they encounter in doing so, and women’s incorporation into traditional gender relations through social development initiatives. I examine instances of sustainable development that have attracted both intellectual and activist interest, such as the Sierra Nevada Alliance which seeks to protect communities, water, land, wildlife through conservation projects.

The 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment and 1980 World Conservation Strategy of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature separated development from the environment in taking these issues forward and gave rise to the Brundtland Commission on Sustainable Development (a term it coined) to unify the conservation of nature and the environment with intergenerational equity, gender equity and poverty alleviation.

Restricted access