Appropriation of Feminist Ideas and Self-transformation through Reading

By Viviane Albenga, Laurence Bachmann

This article takes a sociology of reception approach in order to analyse the role of reading in disseminating feminist ideas among middle-class women. By comparing the cases of women readers taken from two field surveys, one of primarily female reading groups in Lyon, the other of women in Geneva who are sensitive to gender issues, we propose to identify how literary, social sciences and personal development texts encourage the process of gender transgression, or even subversion. This process is made possible by the appropriation of feminist ideas in two differentiated forms : the challenging of norms associated with heterosexual femininity, and women’s material and symbolic independence from men.

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