Work as feminist activism: a qualitative case study
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The topics examined in this thesis involve a feminist woman integrating the personal and political through her job. The notion of activist is expanded from a possibly more extreme, risk-taking position on the margins of society to include seeing all means for economic subsistence as an extension of our feminist selves, thereby contributing full-time to a mass-based feminist movement. This includes intentionally structuring our workplaces to eliminate hierarchical systems of power and control. I examine feminist women who are exemplifying means to empower self, co-workers, and the communities in which they live. The case study analyzes a woman's job in a community service organization as feminist work. Feminist theories that inform the analysis are outlined, as well as the importance of using feminist qualitative methodology in case studies that make women's stories central to the vision of a more just society. After an introduction to the entire thesis in chapter one, chapter two specifically focuses on the literature informing the research and highlights other works done on feminist women and their work lives, especially in the area of education. Chapter three tells the story of Olga, who works in a community organization. Portions of interviews and observations are used to form theory on work as activism, based on her life history. This includes her work in teaching and other organizations that have social justice as their mission. The methodological reflection is communicated in chapter four and gives insight into the process of feminist qualitative methodology. This chapter provides a discussion of my personal bias and how I processed information from the study. Finally, in chapter five implications for the study are communicated. Understanding this case study has importance in how we reflect on our own situations and determine how we will continue to expand our activism. Transforming our work environments to be structured from feminist theory enables us to act in ways that are liberatory. The potential for restructuring our work environments has importance in our school systems as well, for this is where children in the United States learn how our culture functions. Work as activism has importance for creating equality for our entire beings including our ethnicity, race, class, and gender. Only when all aspects of our lives strive for economic, social, and political equality can our communities, locally and globally, understand our full capacity to relate to each other and our environments.