How do women’s business networks help to advance women’s freedom? Drawing on Zerilli’s freedom-centred feminism, our study sets out to answer this question at the intersection of freedom, feminism and work. Critics argue that women’s business networks promote a postfeminist view of freedom focusing on individual self-realisation and thus participate in rolling back collective, feminist efforts to dismantle structural inequalities. We reconceptualise women’s business networks as political arenas and argue that making claims about shared interests and concerns in such an arena constitutes a feminist practice of freedom. With an original, inductive and qualitative research design combining topic modeling and dialectical analysis, we examine the claims made in 1529 posts across four women’s business network blogs. We identify postfeminist claims and new forms of change and transformation that can help to advance women’s freedom across three ‘dialectics of freedom’: conformity and imagination; performative care and relational care; sameness and openness. Our findings show that uncertain and contradictory ways of defining and engaging with women’s freedom can emerge through claim-making in such arenas. The fragility of the process and its outcomes are, then, what can move feminism forward at work and beyond.
Bibliographical note© The Author(s) 2022. The final publication is available via Sage at https://doi.org/10.1177/00187267221083665
- topic modeling
- women’s business networks