Using Critical Praxis and Activism to Create Uncomfortable Spaces
Chapter 2: Blurring Boundaries and Converging Fields
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BLURRING BOUNDARIES AND CONVERGING FIELDS
Working from within my own community, I set about examining what could be learned from the journey of an insider activist researcher seeking social transformations around issues of gender. I understood that my findings could make a contribution to knowledge in the fields of gender and education, social justice, and nascent activist pedagogies. I also understood that these three fields of knowledge had moments of epistemological and ontological convergence. It was within these blurred boundaries, junctures, and overlaps that I set about constructing the study. Fundamental to my approach was an understanding that there is a relationship between discursive constructions of gender in schools and discursive constructions of gender in schools’ wider communities.
The Gender Agenda
The 19th and early 20th centuries saw the birth of the feminist movement across Western societies. A central plank of this movement was women’s suffrage and making visible the invisible. The feminist movement challenged discursive constructions of gender perpetuating traditional patriarchal gender roles. It used discourses of resistance to question power inequities, class division, and capitalism (Giddens, 1984). Today the movement is known as first-wave feminism. It ← 21 | 22 → has been followed by two further discursive and ideological shifts known, respectively, as second- and third-wave feminism. First-wave feminism questioned what was seen as a hidden curriculum preparing girls for future roles as obedient, subservient, domestic service providers. Its proponents argued that women were being raised to be second-class citizens in...
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