Relational Activism: Re-imagining Women's Environmental Work as Cultural Change

Sara O'Shaughnessy, Emily Huddart Kennedy

Abstract


We introduce the term “relational activism” to call attention to the way that relationship-building work contributes to conventional activism (re-activism) and constitutes activism in and of itself. In so doing, we unravel Mohai’s paradox – a long-standing “ironic contrast” that notes that women’s environmental concern is not reflected in greater contributions to activism than men’s. We position relational activism as a bridging concept between re-activism and social capital. Relational activism differs from re-activism in four key areas: the role of the individual, effectiveness, motivating values, and temporal scale. To support these claims, we draw upon 26 ethnographic interviews conducted with families in Edmonton, Alberta, who strive to reduce their environmental impact.

Keywords


Gender, Activism, Environment, Social Capital, Maternal Politics

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