The Perils of Institutionalization in Neoliberal Times: Results of a National Survey of Canadian Sexual Assault and Rape Crisis Centres

Melanie A. Beres, Barbara Crow, Lise Gotell


This article reports on a national survey of Canadian rape crisis and sexual assault centres conducted in 2005. We situate our results in relation to feminist literature on the perils of institutionalization. We argue that institutionalization takes on new forms in the context of neoliberalism and we emphasize the resistance of centres to under-funding and to individualized victims’ services policy frameworks. Despite significant pressures to redefine as social service delivery agencies, Canadian centres continue to engage in social change activism and define themselves as specifically feminist/pro-woman/equality-seeking organizations. Our respondents vary significantly in size and resources, yet nearly all emphasize the significant obstacle of inadequate funding and all continue to rely heavily on the unpaid work of (usually women) volunteers to do more with less.


feminist organizations; neoliberalism; sexual assault; sexual assault centres

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