Publication Details

Lyons, LT, A curious space ‘in-between’: The public/private divide and gender-based activist in Singapore, Gender, Technology and Development, 11, 2007, 27-51. Original journal available here. Copyright Sage Publications 2007.


In Singapore, the state’s role in shaping the space of civil society has been well documented. Many scholars argue that civil society in Singapore is largely a state-sanctioned sphere of engagement that has emerged in response to middle-class pressure for greater political liberalization. In these accounts, the space of civil society is described as an arena that is shaped by the state, and in which the state constantly intervenes. What is less clear, however, is how the space of civil society is gendered. Through an analysis of women’s activism in Singapore, this article deconstructs the binaries ‘public/private’ and ‘state/civil society’ that dominate discussions of women’s engagement with the state. By posing questions not only about the limitations of state-sponsored social change, but also about the possibilities for feminist intervention in the public and private spheres, I shed light on the relationship between an expanding civil society, an encroaching state, and the possibilities for increased gender equality via democratization.



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