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Neoliberalising Feminism

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There recently has been an avalanche of critiques of the way in which feminism has gone to bed with neoliberal capitalism and become an instrument of governmentality. In this paper, I look at these phenomena as processes of a ‘neoliberalisation of feminism'. I illustrate such neoliberalisation by introducing women's empowerment projects run by transnational consumer products companies, typically in partnership with public development actors. Under the label of ‘corporate social responsibility', these companies invest in women in their supply and marketing chains, seeking to empower them within a neoliberal rationality of government. The paper is an effort to go beyond the critiques of feminism as co-opted. Rather than inventing new feminisms or taking a break from feminism – as some have suggested, I propose that it is more fruitful and necessary to examine, in concrete contexts, the way in which select feminist movement ideas are being integrated into neoliberal rationales and logics, what is lost in the process and what is perhaps gained.
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Keywords: corporate social responsibility; feminism; neoliberalism; public-private partnerships

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of International Relations/Political Science, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, PO Box 136, 1211, Geneva 21, Switzerland

Publication date: July 4, 2015

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