The Women's Movements of the United States and Western Europe: Consciousness, Political Opportunity, and Public Policy

By Mary Fainsod Katzenstein; Carol McClurg Mueller | Go to book overview

cal scientists on the development of consciousness among a significant group of key actors during a critical period of change. Although the studies I have described are not strictly comparable, they do offer a glimpse of changing consciousness which is not available in such detail for any other group of women entering nontraditional roles during the 1970s.

Ultimately, however, we appear to evaluate any social movement success in terms of how much it contributes to further mobilization, further successes. Thus, we will want to know what policy changes follow from having more women in public office. I have not attempted to answer this question systematically because at present I know of no research that evaluates the difference it has made to increase the proportion of women in state and local office by 10 percent. There are casual claims by the NWPC that every major piece of legislation for women passed by Congress was introduced by a women. If this is largely true, it strongly suggests the importance of women officials as necessary if not sufficient resources for further social movement successes. Lack of surveillance makes a comparable judgment difficult at state and local levels. We do know that greater numbers have created a critical mass of women officials who are increasingly organized in caucuses and informal networks to increase women's influence and legislative successes at all levels. The degree to which this particular social movement success will nourish further mobilization and successful outcomes remains to be seen.


NOTES
1.
Piven and Cloward ( 1982) have acknowledged that by the late 1970s reversibility of relief rights in the U.S. may have become less susceptible to elite manipulation. As the second Reagan administration progressed, the limits of welfare state retrenchment were not yet clear.
2.
The distinction between substantive reforms and outcomes that create resources for future mobilization may prove more fruitful than Gamson's ( 1975) distinction between an outcome that provides new advantages and one in which the challenging group is either "accepted" or "rejected."
3.
Jenkins ( 1979) argues -- mistakenly, I believe -- that electoral instability had "neutralized" the state. It seems more likely that the support of three presidents for civil rights legislation and enforcement was a positive factor, not a neutral one, in civil rights victories.
4.
In the process of establishing a new paradigm, the shift in emphasis away from questions of belief, ideology, or consciousness is not difficult to understand. As the resource mobilization paradigm developed, it was Smelser's Theory of Collective Behavior ( 1963) which was the most visible and vulnerable treatment of the collective behavior approach to social movements. Smelser's treatment of magical and irrational generalized beliefs as the chief means of identifying collective behavior as well as differentiating its major types was highly questionable. In contrast, resource mobilization emphasizes diversity rather than homogeneity in motives and the continuities between collective actions and routine, everyday behavior ( Currie and Skolnick 1970; Oberschall 1973, 22).
5.
The work of Jo Freeman is the one possible exception. Her major contribution, The

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