Habits of Resistance: Feminism, Phenomenology, and Temporality

  • Author / Creator
    Rodier, Kristin Anne
  • 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.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2015
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
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  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Taylor, Chloë (Philosophy)
    • Weiss, Gail (Philosophy and Human Sciences)
    • Morin, Marie-Eve (Philosophy)
    • Cressida Heyes (Philosophy)
    • Meagher, Michelle (Women's and Gender Studies)