Claims-Making in Context: Forty Years of Canadian Feminist Activism on Violence Against Women

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Title: Claims-Making in Context: Forty Years of Canadian Feminist Activism on Violence Against Women
Authors: Fraser, Jennifer A.
Date: 2014
Abstract: Feminist activism has a rich history in Canada, but mobilization on the issue of violence against women specifically gained considerable momentum during what is often referred to as the “second wave” of the feminist movement. Since this time, the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec have seen a proliferation of both grassroots and public policy responses to intimate partner violence and sexual violence. This study is an effort to construct a feminist history of the activism that occurred between 1970 and 2010, as well as to make sense of feminist claims-making strategies using a social constructionist approach to social problems and to make sense of feminist activism as a social movement using social movement impact theory. In constructing a feminist history, documents from the Canadian Women’s Movement Archives were consulted and interviews with current and former feminist activists were conducted. The historical component of this study focuses on how feminist activists first recognized and responded to the problem of violence against women. This analysis suggests that throughout the last forty years, feminist activists have engaged in a multi-pronged project of providing feminist services for victims of intimate partner and sexual violence, advocating for social and legal change as the “official” response to violence against women, and conducting their own research on the extent and nature of violence against women. Various strategies were used in this process, including forming partnerships and coalitions, but activists also faced challenges from within and outside the movement, including internal debates, struggles to fit in, and backlash from counter movements. The final chapter discusses how the history of feminist activism on violence against woman cannot easily fit into strict constructionist approach to understanding social problems and, as a social movement, is difficult to evaluate given the myriad goals, mechanisms for reaching those goals, and interpretations of success associated with the movement. Future research directions are also suggested, including looking at evidence of claims-making from other sources; bridging the gap, theoretically and pragmatically, between the “mainstream” feminist movement and other streams of women’s activism; and, more conceptual work on feminist movements and the separation between intimate partner and sexual violence.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/30651
http://dx.doi.org/10.20381/ruor-3556
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -
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