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University of Toronto Scarborough
Women's and Gender Studies
Anissa Talahite- Moodley

CHAPTER 34: A Foucauldian Reading of Learning in Feminist Nonprofit Organizations − feminist organizations, especially those in the non-profit sector, play a significant role in the development of a collective feminist consciousness and increased learning and employment opportunities for women − Ferree and Martin note that feminism has been 'a significant, though controversial, force' and that many of its positive effects have been operationalized through the concerted efforts of feminist organizations that have worked for changes through social action, education, lobbying, and the provision of a supportive community for local feminists Theoretical Framing − the theoretical framing of this inquiry occurs at the intersection of several frames of thought, the first of which is a feminist reading of the literature on non-profit organizations and learning, which is generally masculinist, funding focused, and governance driven − the research that does focus on women in non-profits tends to reify stereotypic feminine traits and practices, reminiscent of the early stages of feminism − Fondas, for example, makes the case that feminine practices such as supporting and nurturing are deliberately seeping into mainstream management discourse because they are seen to be effective in organizational leadership − little if any attention is given to the women's organizational or non-profit literature to the power and resistance exercised by women, leaving largely unexplored the area of informal and nonformal learning − the second theoretical underpinning is Foucauldian post-structuralism, with its emphasis on the nexus of knowledge, discourse, and power − Foucauldian post-structuralism focuses on the technologies (practices) of power and the ways in which power becomes present and capillary – that is, working its way through systems of human interaction, including but not confined to language − a key idea in post-structuralism is that there is resistance to the exercises or technologies of power, such as adult education practices of team learning, facilitation, learning circles, and learning journals − learners can resist, for instance, reproducing the adult educator's knowledge by creating their own, or they can resist intense questioning by leaving the room or staying silent − in a Foucauldian sense, the emphasis is on the how of power and not the what or the why or the when − discourse is more than conversation: discourse refers not only to what is said, but who can speak and with what authority − discourse can be analyzed through any meaning-making practices, and not language
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