Development discourse has centered a female entrepreneur as the savior of the developing world, while feminist development studies has been ambivalent about the focus on women as ideal development agents, as well as of market-based approaches as solutions to inequality. This dilemma has fueled debates regarding the co-optation of feminist politics for a series of state, transnational and corporate interventions that are antithetical to feminist principles of social justice. This study examines how a women's cooperative in Costa Rica that works on entrepreneurship and technology challenges boundaries between autonomy and co-optation through a series of organizational practices and loving relationships among themselves, as well as with the communities they serve. The research is based on in-depth interviews with the cooperative's associates, collaborators, and workshop participants, with Costa Rican government officials and administrators at national technical universities, and participant observation at the organization in San José. I found that solidarity-based organizational practices enable a feminist technopolitical praxis that challenges market-centered strategies by forging collectivized ways of living and working, and that in this context technology is localized, collectivized, and felt. These findings suggest that examining process and implementation defies fixed narratives on the relationships between gender, entrepreneurship, technology, and development.
Moving beyond Co-optation: Gender, Development, and Intimacy
Firuzeh Shokooh Valle, Franklin & Marshall College, firstname.lastname@example.org. I am especially grateful to the members of Sulá Batsú for sharing their stories, time, and generosity. This article is also greatly indebted to Liza Weinstein, and the feedback of the summer 2016 writing group she organized at Northeastern University. Thank you also to Nina Sylvanus, Suzanna Walters, Jocelyn Viterna, Doreen Lee, Miranda Outman, Diana Valle Ferrer, Mariela Fullana Acosta, Anna Revette, Emily Cummins, and Ethel Mickey for their excellent insights and feedback. This paper has also benefited from critical discussions with Kathrin Zippel and Jeffrey Juris. The reviewer's comments also greatly helped me improve the original manuscript. All errors that remain are my sole responsibility.
Firuzeh Shokooh Valle; Moving beyond Co-optation: Gender, Development, and Intimacy. Sociology of Development 1 December 2018; 4 (4): 325–345. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/sod.2018.4.4.325
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