In this article I consider the ethical boundaries of intergenerational activism for the feminist researcher conducting research in pre-existing activist networks. Drawing on a decade of involvement with girl-activists at the United Nations, I revisit key moments that challenged me to re-think the ethical, discursive, and relational conditions of girls’ political empowerment. Intergenerational activism creates relational messiness between adults and girls since effectively partnering with girls requires disruptions of generational power with practitioner-scholars learning to make it up as they go along. This article illustrates the complex and contested ways in which girls and adults build activist partnerships in adult-centered and sometimes politically hostile settings. In exploring the environment within which North American girls experience political (dis)empowerment, I question the ethics of empowering girls under current spectacular discursive conditions.
Intergenerational Activism and the Ethics of Empowering Girls
The central aims of this article are, first, to theoretically explore the relationship between social quality (in particular, the conditional factor of social empowerment) and participatory democracy. This uses the democratic dialectic (Bernard 1999) as a normative guide to assess democratic values. Second, the article describes how this theoretical discussion of the social quality of participatory democracy can be operationalized in critical qualitative sociological research. This offers a new direction for social quality research, which has thus far involved theoretical development and the establishment and use of statistical indicators (Beck et al. 1998, 2001; van der Maesen and Walker 2012). The findings of two empirical case studies are called in as evidence that, to different extents, participatory democratic settings can be socially empowering. This research suggests implications for the full realization of social quality in existing liberal and social democratic societies.
Building on a long-term, multi-sited ethnographic research project, this article illustrates and interprets the transformation processes and empowerment strategies pursued by an originally Zazaki-speaking, multigenerational Alevi family in the Turkish-German transnational context. The family, which includes a number of Alevi priests (seyyid or dede), hails from the Dersim4 region of eastern Anatolia, and their family biography is closely bound up with a traumatic mass murder and crime against humanity that local people call “Dersim 38“ or “Tertele.“ Against the background of this tragedy, the family experienced internal migration (through forced remigration and settlement) thirty years before its labor migration to Germany. This family case study accordingly examines migration as a multi-faceted process with plural roots and routes. The migration of people from Turkey neither begins nor ends with labor migration to Germany. Instead, it involves the continuous, nonlinear, and multidirectional movement of human beings, despite national border regimes and politics. As a result, we can speak of migration processes that are at once voluntary and forced, internal and external, national and transnational. 5 In this particular case, the family members, even the pioneer generation labor migrants who have since become shuttle migrants, maintain close relationships with Dersim even as they spend most of their lives in a metropolitan German city. At the same time, they confront moments of everyday in- and exclusion in this transnational migration space that define them as both insiders and out- siders. Keeping these asymmetrical attributions in mind, I examine the family's sociocultural, religious, and political practices and resources from a transna- tional perspective, paying close attention to their conceptualization of identity and belonging as well as their empowerment strategies.
The Core of Social Quality
Fundamentally, the Social Quality Approach (SQA) takes up a topic that runs like a thread through philosophy and social science, namely the tensions between two fields. The one field stretches between ‘individual and society’, the other stretches between ‘institutions and communities’. What the present approach distinguishes from these two is that it seriously goes beyond delivering a new interpretation of the world, aiming instead on delivering a – theoretically founded – instrument for political action. However, political action here aims on dealing with the fundamental challenge of a society as an integrated system, being based on the objective and subjective dimensions of socially acting individuals. To speak of ‘socially acting individuals’ means to acknowledge the interdependency of acting individuals, their independence and at the same time the dependence of the individuals from a society which they shape through their own action.
Girl Scouts and the Leadership Development of Girls
Girl Scouts of the USA is the largest organization for girls in the world, with 2.8 million members and more than 50 million American women as alumnae since the first troop was organized in 1912. Although the organization's mission statement has evolved over the years, Girl Scouts has always been focused on training girls to be responsible and resourceful citizens, and, for the past ten years, there has been a renewed focus on leadership development and the empowerment of girls. Through content analysis of the National Leadership Journey books for each program level of Girl Scouting, I explore three specific themes that are emphasized in this new curriculum. Since National Leadership Journey books are now part of the Girl Scout experience from elementary to high school, these messages concerning leadership development could have an impact on millions of girls across the United States.
This article analyzes contemporary democracies from a deliberative democratic standpoint and focuses on the connection between public and empowered spaces. The idea of deliberative systems and the concept of “transmission” are introduced to discuss the ways in which the public is able to affect the empowered spaces. While elections perform important democratic functions, alone they cannot provide a good quality means for connecting deliberation in the public to that of actors in the empowered space. The problem with transmission is exacerbated to the extent that alternative forms of participation are neglected. The limited ability of the public to affect the empowered space in deliberative and democratic ways contributes to the crisis of democratic systems. One solution to this problem is to acknowledge the role of citizens' deliberation. The article argues for the systematic introduction of spaces for citizens' deliberation that would parallel existing decision-making.
In this article I examine how a new immigrant girl from Jamaica participated in Abstinence Only Until Marriage (AOUM) classes at her school in New York City, and how her interpretation of the values taught in the classes shaped her aspirations for her future as well as the meaning of her past pregnancy. AOUM was a site in which the indirect and seductive power of the state motivated her to align her aspirations and method of attaining them with the neoliberal notion of success, and the neoconservative Christian notions related to family and sexuality in which, essentially, she did not believe. The finding shows that teaching sexuality as a personal matter only and separate from economic equality, and sexuality and reproductive rights does not contribute to the empowerment of girls. I conclude by suggesting that teaching sexuality as a public and political issue is an alternative method of empowerment.
Elizabeth S. Leet
Each tale in the Lanval corpus revolves around fairy women who style their bodies specifically to attract the male gaze. Each fairy uses her body’s visual impact to seduce her lover and resolve the judicial accusations against him. By adapting her body for private audiences, public parades, and even non-noble onlookers, each fairy participates actively in the gaze both to gain her respective lover’s freedom and to win the man of her choosing. The Lanval tales reveal women who submit to be analyzed and objectified in order to satisfy their lover’s wish along with their own goals. Additionally, Sir Landevale and Sir Launfal expand descriptions of the ladies, mirroring the increase in the number of people who assess them at the Arthurian trial. By examining the increasing volume of attire and decreasing interaction with animals across the adaptations, we see these poets problematize the overlap between objectification and empowerment.
In this article, I analyze Koroleva Balu, hereafter referred to in English as The Queen of the Ball, a Ukrainian makeover TV show for schoolgirls that showcases girls' competition for the title of Queen during the preparation for their high school prom. A crew of professional stylists assists the participants, creating their personal styles. My focus is on an analysis of the concepts of girls' empowerment through feminine beauty and “femme-ing the normative.” I investigate how gender is constructed by the show as a performative act and how this process corresponds to post-socialist views of beauty and femininity.
Reconstruction, Transnational Governance and Gender Politics in the New Islamic Republic
This article seeks to characterise the nature of the post-Taliban 'reconstruction' project in Afghanistan through an analysis of observations and interviews collected in the Ministry of Women's Affairs (MoWA) in 2007. Based on a case study of a 'gender empowerment' training programme administered by the MoWA and funded by an international aid agency, I underline some intricacies in the relationships that are built in development encounters. I argue that the current efforts to include gender issues in politics are part of a broader cultural project aimed at setting up the conditions of possibility for the creation of a modern Afghan state. I show how reconstruction does not simply consist in the formation of a bureaucratic apparatus based on Western models of liberal democracies but primarily involves cultural and symbolic production.