The thesis starts from a critical feminist perspective that stresses political relevance and emphasises the importance of political change. Gender is a complex variable within a discourse of adult education with an explicit ambition to mobilise women’s political engagement. In order to examine the performative dimension in a political culture, the thesis seeks its place between gender studies, philosophical pedagogy and politics.

Larsson focuses on conflicts (antagonisms) generated in a heterogeneous women’s group by making differences among women. By means of examples from a heterogeneous same-sex institution of adult education, Larsson examines the potential for critical understanding and its relation to women’s different experiences. A main theme is the complexity and the conflicts resulting from women’s differences, which makes politics of identity based on concepts of fixed categories and coherent stabile identities impossible, whether it concerns gender, class, ethnicity, sexuality or physical or psychological ability.

Differences among women can in other words not be subordinated to a universal feministic agenda, which means that different hegemonic value systems are continuously challenged. In this context, Larsson discusses the paradox of motivating an organisation based on the category ‘woman’ at the same time as the category or the identity is questioned.

Humans are characterised by a constitutive vulnerability and lack of fixed identity, which are the very preconditions for politics. This means that humans are both prerequisites for and obstacles to others’ identities. Hence, there exists an inevitable conflict in the ‘own room’, and this is the challenge faced by democratic politics. As long as we do not want to ruin politics, we cannot magically eliminate challenging differences since these are prerequisites for democratic and pluralistic politics, a practise where antagonisms cannot be eliminated, but can be transformed to agonism.

Larsson concludes that agonistic feminism is consistent with a politically radical concept of ‘Bildung’ that can challenge power structures and change social structures.

Title: Agonistisk feminism och folklig mobilisering.

More information: Berit Larsson, tel. 031-786 23 56,