UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Feminism and collectivity : the integrative function Light, Linda Louise


Collectivity, (a non-bureaucratic, non-hierarchical participatory-democratic organizational form) has been developed as an alternative to bureaucracy in some Western industrial societies. Such an organizational form, although existing independently of the feminist movement, is one important tool used by that movement to accomplish its goals. Collectivity has a particularly close relationship with what I have called integrative feminism, which focuses on a synthesis of feminine and masculine polarities both in society and within individuals, on a re-definition and sharing of power, and on an emphasis on the feminine sphere in order to redress the present imbalance between the masculine and the feminine in Western society. Collectivity, with its emphasis on democratization and feminization of the work process, shares many of the goals of integrative feminism. The purpose of the thesis, then, is to demonstrate the masculine nature of traditional bureaucracy and the feminine nature of collectivity, and thus the relationship between integrative feminism and collectivity. The point of view taken in this thesis is that the sexual polarization that exists throughout Western industrial society is not a natural outcome of the biological differences between the sexes, but is socially determined and therefore changeable by social means. The thesis argues that this polarization, manifested in one-sided personality development for both sexes and the division of social life into an over-valued masculine (productive) sphere and an under-valued feminine (maintenance) sphere, which emphasize different functions, characteristics and values, is destructive to human and social growth. It also argues that sexual polarization is a significant factor in the crisis the world is now facing, which involves the domination of the powerless by the powerful, domestic and international conflict, and, in the West, too-rapid growth and over-consumption. While certain limitations restrict the general application of collectivity as a universal organizational form (for example, social demands for productivity and disparity between the ideology of collectivity and the dominant ideology), it may be that elements of collectivity can be effectively combined with elements of bureaucracy in a variety of contexts. The data on which the argument is based includes the literature of feminism, organizations, and social movements; previous research done on the Vancouver Women's Health Collective; and personal experience in social movement activity.

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