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Tehmina Pirzada

In this article I focus on the graphic narratives Gogi (1970–the present) by Nigar Nazar and Haroon Rashid’s Burka Avenger (2013–the present) in particular to examine the empowering portrayal of Muslim girlhood that these works offer in addition to advocating for the rights of Muslim girls. I emphasize that graphic narratives have become a powerful medium that represents the resistance of Muslim girlhood both in the context of local patriarchies and as a tool to challenge the stereotypical representation of Muslim identities globally. By focusing on the depiction of the girl protagonists in these graphic narratives, I analyze how these artists rework the western superhero trope to foreground the girls’ everyday heroism. Moreover, by situating the interaction of the girls with Pakistani cityscapes, I argue, in terms of De Certeau’s concept of tactics, that the protagonists navigate the Pakistani cities as familiar places rather than as othered spaces.

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From Selfies to Sexting

Tween Girls, Intimacy, and Subjectivities

Antonio García-Gómez

In this article I attempt to contribute to the debates on sexualization, and on tweens’ sexual agency and choice by reporting on a qualitative study of how 53 tween girls self-presented in discourse in the context of sexting (sending sexually explicit text messages and pictures to others). More specifically, the study aims to interrogate tweens’ sexual agency and the complexity of girls’ choices by analyzing their evaluative beliefs about, and motivations for, sexting. I argue that the contradictory discursive constructions of multiple femininities not only illustrate issues of regulation and resistance, but also highlight the blurred boundaries between dominant culture and agency. My findings suggest that the sexual agency implied in sexting shows the tension between the reproduction of dominant culture and hegemony and the presence of a feminine discourse of empowerment.

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The Poetics of Anti-Americanism in Greece

Rhetoric, Agency, and Local Meaning

Elisabeth Kirtsoglou and Dimitrios Theodossopoulos

In this article we examine the content and rationale of anti-Americanism in Greece, drawing ethnographic information from two urban centers, Patras and Volos. We pay special attention to the conspiracy theory attributes of this rhetoric, and, instead of dismissing it or seeing it primarily as a manifestation of nationalist thinking, we attempt to unpack the threads of meaning that make it so appealing in local contexts. We look in particular at the etiology of blame within this particular discourse and try to explain the specific readings of history and politics that make it significant in local contexts. We argue that Greek anti-Americanism has an empowering potential for local actors, as it provides them with a certain degree of discursive agency over wider political processes that are beyond their immediate control.

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Ambivalent Atheist Identities

Power and Non-religious Culture in Contemporary Britain

Lois Lee

In Britain, most non-theists and atheists do not identify themselves as such in explicit terms, yet non-theistic cultural threads are interwoven through everyday discourses. This article calls for more extensive ethnographic engagement with these more diffuse—and therefore less visible and less commonly researched—forms of non-religious culture. Based on exploratory fieldwork conducted in South East England, it draws attention to one set of these indistinct non-religious forms: 'authentic' and 'inauthentic' ambivalent atheist and non-religious self-understandings and self-representations. It demonstrates how these identities may be subjectively meaningful and culturally significant and how they may be simultaneously empowering and disempowering. Scrutiny of ambivalent atheist identities points to complicated dynamics between non-religion and power and the value of attending to poorly or unmarked non-religious cultures through ethnographic work.

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The End Begins in Me

New Forms of Political Action in Israeli Channeling

Adam Klin-Oron

In this article I examine eschatological beliefs and practices among channels in Israel and abroad, and show that they demonstrate an avoidance of traditional, group-oriented political action, and an embrace of alternative, spiritual action performed individually. This is linked to Israel's shift to a neo-liberal economy and culture in the last few decades, where self-accountability has become the norm. Channeling teaches an extreme version of self-divinity, claiming that a person creates all aspects of his or her life and objecting to outside authority and regulation. It believes in a coming of a New Age of light and that the means to achieve it are personal quests for individual empowerment, which are anticipated to affect the whole world via the “virtual aggregate group,” an energetic reservoir that replaces the traditional group. Channels are engaged in alternative political action, attempting to change the world by virtually pooling spiritual resources.

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Jan Berting

The social quality approach (SQA) can be considered as a specific collective representation that has the possibilities to be used as a policy instrument, thus as a method of social, cultural and economic change. The SQA contains important conditional factors: socioeconomic security, social cohesion, social inclusion and social empowerment. These factors seem to be in the first place objectives of social and economic change. In reference to the constructionalist factors, this article also analyses the specific nature of collective representations and their many variations. They are regarded as fundamental elements in social quality studies. In the last part, this study assesses the relevance of social quality studies and their usefulness in relation with various issues in a democratic society or in societies that are on the road towards a democratic future.

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Paul Spicker

The concept of social quality has been operationalized in terms of four component dimensions: social inclusion, social cohesion, socio-economic security and social empowerment. This article argues that inclusion and cohesion are aspects of the same underlying social construct. Societies are cohesive to the extent that they are bound by relationships of solidarity; people are included when they are part of solidaristic social networks. Where there is cohesion, there is solidarity, and where there is solidarity, there is inclusion. It follows that the attempt to define social quality in terms of a formal distinction between inclusion and cohesion is doomed to failure. They cannot be treated as distinct elements, and the attempt to distinguish them has led to double-counting.

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Ian Mahoney and Tony Kearon

In this article, we seek to provide a social quality–led analysis of some of the conditions that led to the UK population’s collective decision to leave the European Union in June 2016. We draw on interview data collected between 2010 and 2012 to argue that while not predictable, the seeds of the Brexit vote are well rooted in the conditions experienced by many of the working classes in Britain’s most deprived postindustrial communities. We argue that the ongoing decline in economic security, effective enfranchisement, social inclusion, and social empowerment have all had profound consequences for working-class communities and that the outcome of the Brexit vote was rooted, at least in part, in their subjective experiences and disenchantment forged in this ongoing decline.

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From Ebony to Ivory

‘Cosmetic’ Investments in the Body

Chiara Pussetti

This article discusses the impact of skin colour inequality in the individual aspirations and prospects of social inclusion and success, social mobility aspirations, professional ambitions and career opportunities. Ethnographically, it studies specific forms of cosmetic investments and self-optimisation in Portugal and its effects on the micropolitics of bodies, correlating the agency of individuals (how they empower themselves maximising certain aspects and minimising others) with the ways in which a European white appearance circulates as a form of capital and commodity, creating body narratives that are very much racialised. By inquiring the actual European understanding of value in bodies, we can also understand the colonial legacy and how it is reproduced through the mutation of bodies.

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Reclaiming European Heritages of Transatlantic Migration

The Politics of Identity of East European Immigrants to the U.S.A.

Vytis Čiubrinskas

This article provides a fieldwork-based case study for the application of identity empowerment through heritage as a research perspective for the analysis of East European transnationalism seen in Lithuanian immigration in the U.S.A. Two patterns of reclaiming European heritages, 'diasporic' and 'recognitionist', are discussed. The 'diasporic' pattern among more recent migrants embraces a transatlantic heritage in which culture stands for the nation. It is instrumentalised as a claim to retain essential Lithuanianness, and reinforced by the moral imperative to return to the homeland. The 'recognitionist' pattern is exemplified by descendants of earlier East European immigrants, and is focused on family roots, as well as on ethnic history and culture. Transatlantic roots and ethnic heritages of the Lithuanian 'Texas pioneers' are reinforced by belonging to the local United States as migrants strive to achieve re-inscription of that heritage as one that has long been rooted in the local history of Texas.