Social Movements, Feminist Movements and the State: A Regional Perspective

By Abeysekera, Sunila | Women in Action, August 2004 | Go to article overview

Social Movements, Feminist Movements and the State: A Regional Perspective


Abeysekera, Sunila, Women in Action


Introduction

The task of defining a regional perspective on such wide-ranging matters as social movements, feminist movements and the State is challenging. First, it is necessary to address the diversity of South Asia, as well as the specificities of the social movements in the region. At the same time, it is also imperative to address the issue of 'the State,' particularly the complexities of the contemporary post-colonial State in South Asia, with the understanding that the concept itself is constantly being refashioned by political and social scientists, and by activists and practitioners, in the face of the contemporary processes of social transformation.

Social movements are processes of constant change and transformation. Despite their ever-changing nature, they have enabled the development of wide-ranging alliances that have led to tremendous social, political and economic change. Through women's movements, women have built alliances and coalitions across the divides of class, race, language, ethnicity and other diverse identities, and have engaged in collective action that has changed policies and decision-making structures. A critical part of this activism has addressed the subordination of women. Understanding the experience--both action and analysis--that makes this type of collaborative work among women possible, therefore, is critical to developing women's participation in political processes.

Social movements are generally described as conscious, collective activities to promote social change, representing a protest against the established power structure and dominant norms and values. A main resource of such movements is the commitment and active--often, unpaid--participation of its members or activists. Referring to the phenomenon that some academics and activists now call the 'new social movements,' Alberto Melucci calls attention to the 'invisibility' of those networks that help develop a sense of common interest, and facilitate collaborative work and collective action (Keane and Mier, 1989). According to him, contemporary social movements are no longer guided by the sense that they are completing a universal plan. Their agenda is not shaped by long-term or fixed goals, and the mobilisation they undertake is rooted in specific times and places. Thus, he refers to the actors in these movements as 'nomads,' dwelling entirely in the present. Leslie J. Calman claims that such movements are more easily able to embrace a diversity of ideological beliefs and choice of tactics because they do not adhere to one single, strict ideology, or demand that participants do the same (Calman, 1989). Melucci expands on the new social movements by identifying four key features that characterise them: treating information (both factual information and symbolic resources) as a resource; acting in the present; accepting the journey (the process) to be as important as the destination (the result); and striving for a complementarity between private life and public commitment.

Using these insights to describe and analyse women's movements in South Asia in the late 1990s could, therefore, provide us with some understanding of the processes that shape women's activism, as we move into a new century and a new millennium.

Feminist movements, or groups of women mobilising for change, have been constant, yet ever-changing, features of modern history. Actions organised by feminist movements in the early part of the century were focused at the national or regional level. By the second half of the 20th century, these movements had gathered force to become a global phenomenon. While differences in approach and analysis had to be accounted for, nevertheless, women across the globe succeeded in building networks on critical issues and in drawing public attention, at the international level, to their demands. Most of this activity has been based on a shared understanding of the need to make real changes in the situation of women. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Social Movements, Feminist Movements and the State: A Regional Perspective
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.