“Drawing on your own life in your work.” Gender proximity and facilitation work in an immigrant women’s association

By Violette Arnoulet

Using the example of a women’s association based in a social housing estate in the Paris suburbs, this article analyzes the joint emergence in the 1980s of a category of public, the “women of the neighborhood,” and a form of social work, “neighborhood facilitation.” Based on a sociohistorical survey, the article reconstructs the association’s creation, as well as the career and practices of its first two facilitators from 1982 to 1991. More specifically, it examines the use of gender proximity between the facilitators and the association’s members as the main resource of the facilitation work, in a context of crisis for existing forms of municipal and associative affiliation in this neighborhood in the former communist-run “red suburbs.” After describing the local dynamics that support the emergence of a category of public defined by gender and place of residence, this text analyzes how the facilitators mobilize their experiences as foreign young mothers, as residents of the neighborhood, and as activists to accomplish the task entrusted to them. It shows that by appropriating a category to which they are assigned, they shape a loose role of neighborhood facilitator that favors an activist conception of facilitation work.

  • Social Cohesion
  • Facilitation
  • Gender
  • Broker
  • Deprived Neighborhoods
  • Association
  • Social Work
Go to the article on Cairn-int.info