ABSTRACT. This article questions the underlying social and political factors explaining the revival of feminism, and analyzes how feminists use digital media to promote their cause. It presents the results of a two-year research project on feminist activism in France; however, many results have broader implications for the evolution of feminism in Western countries. The survey is based on an ethnographic online observation of nine feminist collectives, on face-to-face interviews with activists, and on a qualitative survey of ordinary feminists. We examine the diversity of feminist collectives and how digital media have contributed to the rise of a new leadership and of new organizational practices. Young activists are experts in producing visual narratives (images, video, etc.), in using unconventional repertoires of action (humor, satire, etc.) and in networking. They make events and campaigns which are widely echoed in the public sphere and the mediation of digital media leads to a form of performative activism. Connectivity widens the audience and contributes to the building of virtual communities. However, the high visibility of digital feminism led to the rise of a virulent cyber-sexism. Finally, questions remain about the empowerment of feminists at a time when conservative forces are re-emerging in Western societies.

Keywords: feminism; digital practices; cultural content; performative activism; virtual communities; sociology

How to cite: Jouët, Josiane (2018). “Digital Feminism: Questioning the Renewal of Activism,” Journal of Research in Gender Studies 8(1): 133–157.

Received 16 January 2018 • Received in revised form 3 April 2018
Accepted 7 April 2018 • Available online 28 April 2018

doi:10.22381/JRGS8120187

JOSIANE JOUËT
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Institut Français de Presse/Carism;
University Paris 2

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