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ECPR Virtual General Conference 2020

Opposition to Gender and Sexual Equality in Croatia: Towards the Concept of Anti-egalitarian Activism

Europe (Central and Eastern)
Social Movements
Political Sociology
Political Activism
Katja Kahlina
University of Helsinki
Katja Kahlina
University of Helsinki

The growing social mobilisation against gender and sexual equality in Europe has so far been labelled as ‘(neo-) conservative’, ‘far right’, ‘right-wing’ and ‘traditionalist’ in both scholarly articles and non-academic critical texts (Ciobanu, 2014; Graff, 2014; Hodzic and Bijelic, 2014; Kováts and Põim, 2015). This Paper will address the adequacy of these labels in relation to the oppositional character and the implications that these new social movements have for gender and sexual equality. It will do so by discussing the rhetoric, aims, and strategies of the recent mobilisation against gender and sexual equality in Croatia. In particular, the Paper will discuss the ways in which the notions of (neo-) conservativism and traditionalism imply the preservation of the ‘good old times’, thus legitimising this form of gender and sexual politics. Similarly, right-wing label may be regarded as legitimising and normalising this new activism against gender and sexual equality by placing it on the usual left-right political spectrum. Instead, by using the Croatian case, the Paper will argue for the concept of anti-egalitarian activism that may open up a space for different conceptualisations of these new movements. This concept, I will argue, conveys the meanings of this kind of activism more precisely, making its oppositional stance towards the improvement of socio-legal position of marginalised and/or disadvantaged groups more obvious. In this way, we could gain a new explanatory power that would divert our attention from the usual traditionalism vs. modernity/progressiveness debates and allow us to see the links between this new politics of gender and sexuality and other movements with anti-egalitarian aims and implications. This could in turn have positive effects on strengthening the alliances between women and sexual minorities on the one hand, and other minorities/marginalised groups whose potential equality has been opposed and/or resisted.
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