Hopefulness, solidarity and determination for me too: Impacts of a globalized social movement on female post-secondary students’ emerging professional identities and aspirations

Kaela Jubas, Christine Jarvis, Grainne McMahon

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Like Raymond Williams’s description of the late 20th century, these ‘are not only confusing and bewildering [times]; they are also profoundly unsettling’ (Williams, 2015, p. 218). The antidote proposed by Williams is hope: ‘It is only in a shared belief and insistence that there are practical alternatives that the balance of forces and chances begins to alter. Once the inevitabilities are challenged, we begin gathering our resources for a journey of hope’ (2015, p. 219). Hope is a core value in the field and practice of adult education. As Stephen Brookfield notes, adult educators take up their work because they ‘want to create a better world. They want to help people get a fair bite of the cherry, increase political participation, promote activism in marginalized communities, and help the exploited and homeless make a living wage’ (2016, p. 27). In many ways, the MeToo social movement exemplifies Williams’ ideas, not only about hope but also about the pedagogical potential of culture. The people at the centre of MeToo — female actors based in Hollywood — are engaged in the cultural work of story-making and story-sharing. As they stepped out of the fictional stories familiar to audience members and told their own stories, they contributed to a real-life story of marginalisation, abuse, and demands for justice, and illustrated that hope can continue to be a cultural and a pedagogical commitment.

Written in the decades before computers were common and before the Internet became a conveyor of everyday information, Williams’s texts focus on culture and community at and beneath the level of the nation-state. With border-crossing cultural texts and practices now ubiquitous, it is tempting to agree with those who argue that national borders have become irrelevant and that global society has replaced national societies (Beck, 2006). Our study of learning about and from the MeToo movement indicates that, on the contrary, local and national specifics continue to matter. It is not a matter of either local or global circumstances; rather, the local and the global are apparent in a dynamic Gramscian dialectic.

In drawing on and updating Williams’s important theoretical insights, we situate our work at the juncture of two scholarly streams: social movement learning, which views social movements as sites of learning about inequitable social conditions and resistance (Cunningham 1998; Finger 1989; Welton 1993), and public pedagogy, which likewise views cultural products and processes as pedagogical (Jarvis, 2012; Jarvis, 2015; Jarvis & Burr, 2011; Jubas, 2015; Jubas et al., 2020, Sandlin & Walther, 2009; Wright & Sandlin, 2009). Consistent with the tension between hope and despair, we elaborate three tensions experienced by study participants. First, and least surprisingly, MeToo exposes the reality that prevalent discourses of equality diverge from practices and behaviours that continue to demean women. Second, the global MeToo movement manifests local and occupational nuances. Third, there are benefits and pitfalls to having celebrities at the centre Hopefulness, solidarity, and determination for Me Too 26 of social movements. After providing an overview of MeToo and our study, we move to a discussion of our findings.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdult education as a resource for resistance and transformation
Subtitle of host publicationVoices, learning experiences, identities of student and adult educators
EditorsBarbara Merrill, Cristina C. Vieira, Andrea Galimberti, Adrianna Nizinska
PublisherUniversidade de Coimbra
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)9788680712406
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020
EventESREA Access, Learning Careers and Identities Network Conference - University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal
Duration: 7 Nov 20199 Nov 2019


ConferenceESREA Access, Learning Careers and Identities Network Conference
Internet address


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