Thirty years of feminist activism : women in welfare education reflect

Dillon, Joanne (2007) Thirty years of feminist activism : women in welfare education reflect. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


This thesis traces the economic and socio-political changes in Australia over the final three decades of the twentieth century from the perspective of 25 women engaged in social work and welfare education. A period of significant change in its social, economic and political history, Australia moved from Keynesian inspired trends to social democracy under Whitlam, through the corporatist experiment of the Hawke/Keating regime to an embrace of free market economics under the current Howard coalition government. Utilising a narrative approach and framing the research within feminist historical materialist standpoint, after Smith (1991) and Naples (2003), I explore the ways in which this group of women experienced changes to the policy context, theories as they informed their education and practice and, of particular interest, changes to feminist theory and the impact of the women's movement on social policy, service delivery and in each woman's personal lives. Participants reported general feelings of frustration at the erosion of hard won gains, especially for women and living the adage 'the personal is political ', and increased pressures in their work and private lives over time. There was a sense of distancing of social work from social policy alongside increasing alienation from a women's movement that they saw as largely out of touch with an increasingly diverse and globalised world. In this context however, the women generally remained positive for the future, providing clear strategies as to the contribution a reinvigorated feminism and women's movement could make to social work and social policy of the future.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1605 Policy and Administration
Historical > FOR Classification > 1606 Political Science
Historical > FOR Classification > 1608 Sociology
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Social Sciences and Psychology
Keywords feminism, women, women's movement, women's voicies, activists, social policy, globalisation, politics, history, Australia, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s
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