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Edited by Hein-Anton van der Heijden
Chapter 18: The women’s movement
Ferree and Mueller begin their essay on the women’s movement by stating that it ‘is not new, not only Western, and not always feminist’ (2004, p. 577). In doing so, they provide a useful synopsis that captures much of past research and at the same time illustrates the complexity of women’s organizing in national, transnational, and global contexts. In this chapter, I draw upon their synopsis to explore some of the most significant scholarship and to examine theoretical contributions emerging from the study of women’s movements. To do so, I use the United States, the national context that I research, as a case study to illustrate the development of concepts and theories from women’s movements. I do so not to reiterate a Western-only focus on social movements but to further elaborate ideas, concepts, and debates about women’s movements and to show the development of theories from scholarship. By focusing on the United States, I explore some of the mid-range theories and concepts that have been applied and expanded because of this work. While scholarship on social movements has influenced how women’s movements have been studied, women’s movements have also influenced the field of social movements. Important theoretical concepts and frameworks have emerged from the study of women’s movements that shape not only social movement research but sociological research in general.
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