Under our own eyes - Mothers in search for consciousness and social change in Brazil
Abstract: This case study provides an analysis on how working women mothers in Brazil articulate themselves in a feminist network born on social media (Maternativa) to generate collective empowerment, raise awareness about oppression and mobilize around work rights. Using qualitative methods such as insider participant observation, interviews and content analysis, it investigates how participatory-related communicative practices and feminism interplay on digital and interpersonal environments fostering dialogue, conscientization and, potentially, a “political turn” in the collective’s agenda. Theoretical underpinnings include Manuel Castells’ network society, participatory communication and Paulo Freire’s theories on oppressed subjects, as well as insights from matricentric and black feminisms. The validity of (feminist) participatory practices for the strengthening of women mothers’ grass-roots movements and its potential applicability to mitigate the limitations of social media are some of the conclusions offered. Despite challenges typical of social movements and a significant “white woman bias”, participation has been able to produce an expanded awareness of the different systems of oppression. As a result, women’s discourse and engagement inside the network has become increasingly political and critical regarding structural power relations in the Brazilian society.
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