A critical review of postfeminist sensibility

Sarah Riley, Adrienne Evans, Sinikka Elliott, Carla Rice, Jeanne Marecek

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    42 Citations (Scopus)
    844 Downloads (Pure)


    This paper critically reviews how feminist academic psychologists, social scientists and media scholars have developed Rosalind Gill’s (2007a) generative construct ‘postfeminist sensibility’. We describe the key themes of postfeminist sensibility, a non-coherent set of ideas about femininity, embodiment and empowerment circulating across a range of media. Ideas that inform women’s sense of self, making postfeminist sensibility an important object for psychological study. We then consider research that drew on postfeminist sensibility, focusing on new sexual subjectivities, which developed analysis of agency, empowerment, and the possibilities and limitations in taking up new subjectivities associated with postfeminism, as well as who could take up these subjectivities. We show how such work identified complexities and contradictions in postfeminist sensibility and offer suggestions for how this work might be further developed, particularly by intersectionality-informed research. In the final section, we address contemporary debates surrounding postfeminism. We consider challenges and counter arguments to postfeminist sensibility as a useful term for describing contemporary patterns of sense making on gender, making the case for continuing research on postfeminist sensibility in the areas of digital cultures, a transformative imperative that includes the mind as well as the body, transnational postfeminism, and new forms of feminist activism. We conclude that such work would benefit from considering the ways that different technologies mediate the ideas and practices associated with postfeminist sensibility.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere12367
    JournalSocial and Personality Psychology Compass
    Issue number12
    Early online date12 Dec 2017
    Publication statusPublished - 2017

    Bibliographical note

    This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Sarah Riley, Adrienne Evans, Sinikka Elliott, Carla Rice and Jeanne Marecek (2017) A critical review of postfeminist sensibility. Social and Personality Psychology Compass (11) 12, e12367, which has been published in final form at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/wol1/doi/10.1111/spc3.12367/full. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.


    • postfeminism
    • neoliberalism
    • gender
    • critical psychology
    • subjectivity
    • sexuality
    • poststructuralism


    Dive into the research topics of 'A critical review of postfeminist sensibility'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this