Beyond to Privacy and Family Bonds: What Are the Promises of Solidarity Communities to Women?

Friday, 20 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Demet BOLAT, Muğla Sıtkı Koçman University, Turkey
The modern social world is divided into two realms: the “public sphere”, which is controlled by politic and economic authorities, and the “private sphere”, which is determined by the principles of privacy. Since the 18th century, in which the world was reshaped by capitalism, the private life has emerged as the only realm where “genuine” and solidarist relationships can develop in a world full of “strangers”. Nuclear family, which continues to be an ideologically and practically hegemonic pattern in most of the world, was constituted as antithetical to public and heterogeneous relationships. This reorganization of institutions, spaces and social relations according to the public-private duality obstructs solidarity relationships and negotiation processes for common interests that could arise from public encounters. This social pattern, in which the values of individualism and pluralism are economically and politically consecrated, is based on housewifization of women and their being positioned by reference to familialism in both public and private spaces.

This study focuses on women’s experience as commoners in communities which are organized with egalitarian, solidarist, non-hierarchic and collectivist principles in Turkey. By utilizing qualitative methods, the study examines solidarity networks as alternative public spaces which go beyond public-private duality and familialist bonds in terms of empowerment and liberation of women. The discussion follows these questions: i) How does being a commoner in these communities, in contrast to patriarchal and familialist roles, change women’s lives? ii) How do the egalitarian and non-hierarchic principles that are claimed to be held by such networks of solidarity work in the decision-making, actualisation and labour processes in terms of gender equality? When do they fail? iii) How do the heterogenous encounters which occur in solidarity networks differ from familial bonds in terms of “trust”, “conflict” or “negotiation” in women’s lives?