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Women's entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia: feminist solidarity and political activism in disguise?'

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

E-pub ahead of print
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>17/03/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Gender, Work and Organization
Number of pages23
Publication StatusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date17/03/21
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

This paper is a longitudinal study that uses insights from postcolonial feminism to explore women’s entrepreneurship as a political form of feminist organising for social change in Saudi Arabia. Postcolonial feminist approaches challenge Western feminism, which can obscure the diversity of women’s lived experiences, agency and activism. Through Bayat’s (2013) theory of 'quiet encroachment', I identify the ways in which contemporary Western conceptualisations of feminist solidarity and social movements have dismissed ‘Other’ women’s ‘silent’, protracted and (dis)organised activism in parts of the Middle East. By exploring how Saudi women have utilised their entrepreneurial space as a legitimate platform for change, I aim to enrich understanding of women’s activism through everyday solidarity practices, which allow them to quietly encroach onto the previously forbidden political space. The findings exemplify how their activism ‘quietly’ developed over time through a three- step process - from the entrepreneur aiming to empower women within their organisation, to developing feminist consciousness within their entrepreneurial network, to becoming a ‘political activist’ lobbying for policy changes for women. These solidarity practices exemplify the West’s relationship with ‘the Other’, and reveal that feminist organising for social change must be explored within its own context in order to fully appreciate its global political potential.