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Habits of Resistance: Feminism, Phenomenology, and Temporality Open Access


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Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Rodier, Kristin Anne
Supervisor and department
Cressida Heyes Philosophy
Examining committee member and department
Weiss, Gail (Philosophy and Human Sciences)
Morin, Marie-Eve (Philosophy)
Taylor, Chloë (Philosophy)
Meagher, Michelle (Women's and Gender Studies)
Cressida Heyes (Philosophy)
Department of Philosophy

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Feminist resistance to gender oppression, while surely a collective political project, has an important individual dimension. Individual resistance most often takes the shape of self-transformation where one works on the self to change desires, attitudes, and practices. I argue that paradigms of self-transformation that rely on willpower or increased self-knowledge for change can responsibilize oppressed persons when changing proves difficult, which frustrates feminist ends. Because of this I argue that habit deserves increased attention from feminists working on personal resistance to gender oppression. I analyse a range of contexts in which habit appears and I underscore its temporal character in order to render intelligible problems in feminist theories of resistance. I work from the assumption that habits have both a negative and a positive quality—they can keep us stuck, but they also provide the ground from which we can change. While habits have been theorized as the reason for a lack of social change, I argue that habit reveals to us that much of how we are constituted is actually our personal control. I argue that paying closer attention to habitual constitution reveals that there are both multiple kinds of habits and also multiple strategies that can change them. At the same time as I argue for increased attention to habit, I build a relationship between lived experiences of temporality and how social forces produce meaningful temporal narratives. In this sense, I engage with our habits of time. I situate this project in contemporary feminist theories and draw on the phenomenological and existential traditions drawing primarily on the works of Simone de Beauvoir, Edmund Husserl, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. My overarching concern is not to say what habit is or what habits we should have, but rather to see what habit does.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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