Working with Hand, Head, and Heart : A feminist critical discourse analysis of ‘Gender Equality as Smart Economics’

Detta är en Master-uppsats från Stockholms universitet/Institutionen för ekonomisk historia och internationella relationer

Författare: Julia Sundell; [2021]

Nyckelord: ;

Sammanfattning: The objective of this thesis is to gain more knowledge about the usage of the ‘Gender Equality as Smart Economic’ discourse in corporate-led women’s empowerment initiatives. This discourse can be understood as a vocabulary for discussing the business case for women’s empowerment which has diffused from development institutions to states, NGOs and corporations through a wide range of initiatives, policies, advertisement campaigns and development and humanitarian campaigns. To this end, this study interrogates how women are discursively constructed as ideal development subjects in a recent initiative launched by the global corporation IKEA in 2012, aimed at economically empowering women in marginalized communities: IKEA social entrepreneurship. Sydney Calkin’s feminist reading of Foucault’s critique of human capital theory is applied to the case of IKEA, which is a framework that maps the relationship between empowerment interventions, subjectivities and bodies. The research question is formulated as follows: how are women in the global South discursively constructed as ideal subjects for empowerment interventions through IKEA social entrepreneurship? The research question is targeted through a feminist critical discourse analysis of 15 videos from the initiative. My analysis shows that IKEA constructs the women targeted through the initiative as an homogeneous pool of underutilized labor, whose dormant potential can be activated through IKEA social entrepreneurship. I found that IKEA ascribes particular qualities onto the women, which are contingent on their identities as mothers. These qualities are used to promote women’s unique suitability for investment, based on gendered essentialisms and assumptions on women’s innate productivity. I also found that IKEA presents empowerment as a two way process that works from both the inside and the outside, where women are seen as needing to change but also that they are in dire need of an external opportunity in the shape of an empowerment initiative. 

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