Tag Archives: women’s movement

NEW DOCUMENTARY: She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry

A new documentary on the women’s movement in the 1960s, She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, is screening around the country and is available on DVD for instruction use. The film includes a lot of fascinating, previously unreleased footage from the early years of the 2nd Wave feminist movement, as well as new interviews with individuals integral to its founding.

The film is compelling in part because it demonstrates how ideas about gender that now feel common sense were revolutionary not long ago, while also underscoring the fact that the movement’s work is still incomplete. It is also interesting to see how proud those interviewed are of their involvement in the early years of the movement and how much it shaped the rest of their lives. Finally, the documentary provides a unique glimpse into the internal dynamics and disagreements within the movement during these early years. Continue reading


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Feminism, Culture, and Computational Sociology

Recent social movements research that has excited and motivated me groups around three themes: 1) community-level effects on movements (Reger 2012, McAdam and Boudet 2012), 2) the path-dependent nature of movements (Blee 2012), and 3) the application of computational methods to study social movements (Hanna 2013) and culture (Bail 2013). My research fits loosely at this junction: I use computational methods to study the structure and culture of local social movements over time.

To do so I, like many others, conceive of local movements as fields. I formalize fields in two ways: a social field consists of 1) a structure—a set of actors that are in some way related to one another (DiMaggio and Powell 1983), and 2) a culture—taken-for-granted assumptions that both enable and constrain action (Jepperson 1991). While network analysis is an established way to measure structure, quantifying culture has proven more difficult. Continue reading


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Books That Are About More than You Think

Whittier, Nancy. 2011. The Politics of Child Sexual Abuse: Emotion, Social Movements, and the State. Oxford University Press.

Whittier, Nancy. 2009. The Politics of Child Sexual Abuse: Emotion, Social Movements, and the State. Oxford University Press.

By Jo Reger

It seems like a hard sell to convince academics to spend some of their “free” time in the summer reading books that center on the sexual assault of women and children.  Yet, I find myself attempting this because of my certainty in quality of these two books; Danielle McGuire’s beautifully written At The Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance (2010, Random House) and Nancy Whittier’s incredibly intelligent The Politics of Child Sexual Abuse: Emotions, Social Movements and the State (2009, Oxford). Note: I have met Danielle McGuire and I am friends with my graduate school colleague Nancy Whittier. So while I have connected with these authors personally, my goal here is to focus on the intellectual and emotional connection I have with each of their books (knowing them personally is just an added benefit).

So why should you read these books? First, taken together they underscore the importance and often overlooked issue of sexual assault in the study of movements. McGuire, a historian, retells the story of the origins of the civil rights movements through the epidemic of rapes of black women. Starting with anti-rape activism of Rosa Parks, McGuire tells a compelling and sometimes horrifyingly detailed story of the rapes, assaults, and murders of black women in a time when it was “open  season” for white men to go “hunting.” Starting (and ending) with the story of Recy Taylor, McGuire carefully traces these cases and the grassroots organizing that sprung up around them, eventually coalescing in an infrastructure that carried the movement forward. Continue reading

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The Identity Politics of Motherhood

Last Sunday was Mother’s Day, and many of my friends had Facebook posts about the radical anti-war origins of this holiday.

In 1870 feminist Julia Ward Howe penned the anti-war “Mother’s Day Proclamation,” which begins:

Arise then … women of this day!

Arise, all women who have hearts!

Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:

“We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,

Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,

For caresses and applause.

Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn

All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.

We, the women of one country,

Will be too tender of those of another country

To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

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Online Feminism: Who is Listening?

A few months ago PBS came out with the documentary “Makers: Women Who Make America,” which tells the story of the most sweeping social revolution in American history”, i.e. the women’s movement. It’s a wonderful video, and everyone should watch it. While it was generally lauded as a success, one of the sections, the section on “Feminism Today,” drew extensive critiques. In this section old arguments about contemporary feminism are repeated: most women today who do “feminist” things refuse the label feminist, younger women are apathetic and take for granted the rights that the past feminist movement won, etc. It adds the somewhat new claim that today’s active feminist movement focuses its energy on global issues rather than domestic issues.

A number of active feminists immediately critiqued the documentary’s take on the current women’s movement, in particular for missing the important work being done by younger feminists. One common critique is that the documentary did not even mention the vast world of online feminism. Continue reading

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GDELT and Research on Global Women’s Rights Activity

The release of the GDELT dataset (Global Data on Events, Location, and Tone) has provided social movement researchers a powerful tool to study global social movements. Preliminary explorations of these data show its potential promise for analyzing major social movements, e.g. the uprising in Egypt, the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, and Syria’s civil war. It’s updated every day (!), which is great for ongoing social movement research.

As with any data, one should take caution when using GDELT to make claims about the real world. Continue reading


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On Emotional Disaffection, Humiliation and Anger, Transfer of Loyalties, Emotions Management in Movements, and Courage

By Helena Flam

To account for the emergence of social movements one rarely starts with these movements themselves but instead with their context and/or creators – treated as explanations for mobilization.  In terms of context, for example, differing economic and/or political resources, favorable political opportunity structures, developing protest cycles or networking have served to explain movement mobilization. In terms of creators, successful movement organizing or mobilizing have been explained by, for example, the “right” decisions of the “movement entrepreneurs” to invest limited movement resources, the capacity of “movement intellectuals” to produce and disseminate new knowledge, the ability of the leaders to “frame” reality to fit that of the potential movement members while emphasizing the urgency and the efficacy of collective action, etc.

From the emotions perspective the context is constituted by the relations of domination and their emotional underpinnings. Let me illustrate. Continue reading

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