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    Feminist Subjectivities: sources for a politicised practice of women's personal development education

    Ryan, Anne Bridget (1997) Feminist Subjectivities: sources for a politicised practice of women's personal development education. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    This thesis offers an account of the processes through which feminist subjectivities are constructed. Subjectivity is a central theoretical concept of the work and is conceptualised throughout from a poststructuralist perspective. Implicit in this perspective is the understanding that subjectivity is social, dynamic and multiple. Drawing in particular on feminist poststructuralist and psychodynamic thought, the theoretical objective of the work is to advance theories of adult politicisation, human agency and critical adult education. Based on original fieldwork with self-defined feminist women, feminist subjectivity is characterised as a three-way production involving a) different feminist discourses, b) relations in present situations and c) emotional responses. Taking into account the complex picture of feminist subjectivity which the research provides, the thesis also asks if politicised subjectivities can be produced within the context of women’s personal development education. This is a timely question, given the enormous popularity of women’s personal development education in Ireland. Such education is predominantly practised within a human relations psychology framework which in turn draws on liberal humanist assumptions about the person, power and the nature of social change. Such practice is shown in this work to have depoliticising effects. It is argued that personal development education can be practised in politically radical ways, if it draws on theoretical resources outside liberal humanism. The thesis builds on its own picture of feminist subjectivities to make proposals for a practice of personal development education which meets the stated needs of many women for attention to the personal, but without sliding into a depoliticised individualism. The proposals are living, practical and specifically designed for an educational context. The thesis concludes by arguing that the training of personal development facilitators needs to be informed by a wide range of feminist discourses, especially including feminist poststructuralist theories. It also recommends that critical adult education provide the theoretical resources for politically radical personal development education, by addressing questions of subjectivity and human agency, and by treating gender differences as produced and open to change, rather than as given.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Keywords: Feminist Subjectivities;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Adult and Community Education
    Item ID: 5283
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 07 Aug 2014 13:41
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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