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The Making of the Civil Society Person: Civil Society and Personhood of Female NGO Workers in the Context of Post-Socialist Transition in Vietnam

Trinh, Binh Thi An (2020) The Making of the Civil Society Person: Civil Society and Personhood of Female NGO Workers in the Context of Post-Socialist Transition in Vietnam. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

About 35 years ago, Vietnam started economic reforms, known as doi moi, to develop a market-oriented economy. The economic reforms involved a proliferation of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), which shaped an emergent civil society annexed to the system of mono-organisational socialism. The research investigates this emergent civil society with an examination of the personhood of Vietnamese female NGO professionals, by using Foucault’s theory of governmentality and the Gramscian notion of civil society. A qualitative research study using multiple data collection methods was implemented to generate 36 narrative interviews, three focus group discussions, written accounts of participant observation, and 30 concept maps. The narrative analysis was used to construct social narratives collectively and to identify themes. The research reveals a cohort of NGO middle-class women whose status is dependent on their acquisition of material and professional resources in the market. The findings relating to the women’s performance in the economy, particularly in the NGO sector, suggest their economic activities were meant to fulfil the reproductive responsibility, accounting for women’s prestige in Vietnam. The research reveals that NGOs that have been professionalised towards care functions have become a distinctive realm for Vietnamese women to regain a role in public life. In this realm, the women demonstrated the morality of the “socialist woman” towards economic maximisation, to care for both the family and the community. Women’s self-government in the role of carers illustrates a mode of governmentality operated by the socialist state to shape women’s conduct with the moral and ideological appeal of women’s reproductive role in Vietnam’s socialist tradition. In this mode of governmentality, NGOs bear a resemblance to an autonomous civil society with the vested interests of women in the caring role, which has not challenged but rather renewed the hegemony of socialism with a good sense of economic efficiency.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Related URLs:
Keywords: personhood, civil society, governmentality, post-socialist women, NGOs, neoliberalism
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds)
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds) > School of Politics & International Studies (POLIS) (Leeds)
Depositing User: Miss Binh Thi An Trinh
Date Deposited: 18 May 2020 08:13
Last Modified: 18 May 2020 08:13
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/26902

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