How can resistance produce substantial social changes without becoming detrimental to those resisting? Drawing on qualitative study of diverse social and business Jewish-ultraorthodox female entrepreneurs (JUFE) in Israel, we demonstrate how JUFE’s resistance turned productive by advancing different issues related to women’s status and rights, leading to greater gender equality in their community. In struggling against their community’s patriarchal power, women’s resistance acts resulted in multilevel gendered social changes related to embodiment, home equality, economic well-being and women’s rights. JUFE’s resistance was intermingled with compliance, thus allowing them to engender change processes in an ultra-religious social environment while maintaining their community membership and belonging. Our contribution is threefold: first, by uncovering resistance forms in social contexts subjected to authoritarian power regimes, we argue that religiosity serves as a resource for women not only in resisting gender power relations, but also in promoting broad, gendered social changes without becoming victimized as social outcasts. Second, we uncover the complex dynamics between diverse aspects of domination, the resistant acts invoked in response, the respective compliant practices intermingled with these acts and the perceived risks involved. Third, by demonstrating how JUFE’s resistance led to significant, evolutionary modifications in different aspects of an extant social order, while reproducing the hegemonic power relations and social circumstances it aims to modify, we highlight that resistance may become productive because it is reproductive of the social order it seeks to change, not despite it.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was funded by the Research Authority of the Open University of Israel.
© The Author(s) 2021.
- critical management studies
- female entrepreneurship
- productive resistance
- religion and organizations
- social change