Who is the Economista? : The Paradox of Feminism: Collectivism and Individualism Within an Online Group for Female Private Investors

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Institutionen för informatik och media

Abstract: In the last few years, there has been an explosion of Facebook groups specifically directed at a female audience. One topic that seems to organize and interest Swedish women especially is money. This study explores the biggest Swedish financial group of them all: Economista – women who enjoy stocks and private economy, currently hosting 146 thousand members.  The group is studied through a theoretical lens of fourth wave feminism, characterized by the use of digital tools for feminist action, as well as a revival of the feminist collective action from the second wave feminism, and a continuation of a feminist individual empowerment of third wave feminism. The study aims to investigate how feminism, and the empowerment of women is negotiated within the group. It also investigates what defines and delimits the female discursive object of the Economista. Methods used are a critical feminist discourse analysis and an explorative netnography, combined with focus group discussions with members of the group. The study shows that Economista can be seen as a collective space as members experience the group as a safe space where they educate each other about the stock market – a field historically dominated by men, that many are reluctant to enter. It also functions as a space for consciousness raising about patriarchal structures playing out in their everyday economic lives. However, the group can also be viewed as a limited emancipation, as it only includes a limited scope of individuals. The economically liberated subject that comes forth – The Economista – is a neoliberal, feminine version of a Homo economicus, who is responsible for making deliberate, rational decisions regarding her economy. In this postfeminist discourse, feminist analysis is no longer needed, as women have all the possibilities in the world to live a rich and happy life – if they just put their minds into it. The study shows that it is precisely these instances of “empowerment” that are important to dissect, as these often conceal limiting structures. In this case, the implications that this notion of freedom and “lack of governance” has for feminist struggle is that it masks norms, hierarchies and structural power relations producing economic inequality. Economista thus becomes part of the problem that it sets out to solve, as the group pictures itself as a solution to women’s economic inequality, at the expense of other solutions.

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