Feminist social movements of the 1960s and 70s demanded radical change and an end to women's oppression. They aimed their demands at the state, thereby recognising that the state had the power to change policies. Twenty-five years later, it seems that everything and nothing has changed. Women now make up half the workforce of advanced capitalist societies but they still do the bulk of the cleaning, washing and cooking at home. So have feminist social movements been effective in bringing about change? Has their engagement with the state led to changes in social policies? Have they made any difference to the lives of ordinary women and men in the industrialised west?
This book provides some of the answers. It explores how policies have changed and how much of this change is due to social movement activity. It looks at the engagement of feminist social movements with different states in different societies, the way states influence the emergence of feminist social movements and the form they take. In some areas of policy, there have been huge changes and in others, change has been almost imperceptible. This book explores why it is easier to bring about change in some areas than others. It also asks whether these changes would have happened anyway. Are they a result of feminist social movements or of changes in economy and society? Or does the answer to this question depend on the society being studied? These issues are explored by comparing feminist social movements, states, and social policy change in Britain, Europe and North America in the last three decades of the 20th century.
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NICKIE CHARLES is Reader in Sociology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University College of Swansea. She is the author of two books - Women, Food and Families (with Marion Kerr) and Gender Divisions and Social Change - and has co-edited two others - Practising Feminism (with F. Hughes-Freland) and Gender, Ethnicity and Political Ideologies (with H. Hintjens).Review:
Comparing social policy change, changes in the position of women and the activities of feminist social movements over the last three decades of the twentieth century in Britain, Europe and North America, this study explores the impact of feminist social movements on social policy. Dr Charles analyses the complex interaction between feminist social movements and the state, both on a theoretical and on a more practical, political level, and aims to assess to what extent the changes in the position of women over the last three decades are the result of feminist activities or arise merely from general economic and societal changes.' - International Review of Social History
'Charles deserves credit for presenting a complex set of issues with such clarity and for capturing the diverse ways in which feminist social movements have influenced social policy.' - Rose Gann, University of Central Lancashire, in Political Studies
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