The ideology of choice: overstating progress and hiding injustice in the lives of young women: findings from a study in North Queensland, Australia

Baker, Joanne (2008) The ideology of choice: overstating progress and hiding injustice in the lives of young women: findings from a study in North Queensland, Australia. Women's Studies International Forum, 31 (2008). pp. 53-64.

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Abstract

The pervasive and popularised concept of a freshly modernised and progressive world for girls and young women has been ushered in by theories of post-industrial individualisation, neo-liberalism and its dovetailing with liberal variants of feminism. Such optimistic notions of new-found freedom for women in Western democracies celebrate the shrinking of imposed constraints and exclusions and the enthusiastic endorsement of individual choice. This article reports on recently completed empirical research in an Australian context which questions just how dramatically the lives of young women have changed. It identifies the role that the lauded concept of choice plays in overstating women's advancement and disguising socially generated inequality. In particular, young women in this study comprehend domestic violence, unequal parenting and housework as matters of choice, while also implicitly understanding that they do not live up to the imagined unencumbered rational choice individuals of liberalism.

The implications of an invigorated conservative, masculinist agenda disguised in a women's rights discourse are discussed. Feminists are confronted with a changed socio-political climate where the subordination of girls and women is allowed to occur more covertly within a framework of ostensible commitment to equality, the valorisation of choice and through seductive incitements to individual responsibility.

Item ID: 7265
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1879-243X
Keywords: young women; neoliberalism; choice; violence; feminism
Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2010 02:01
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1607 Social Work > 160702 Counselling, Welfare and Community Services @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9599 Other Cultural Understanding > 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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