The Million Mom March (favoring gun control) and Code Pink: Women for Peace (focusing on foreign policy, especially the War in Iraq) are organizations that have mobilized women as women in an era when other women’s groups struggled to maintain critical mass and turned away from non-gender-specific public issues. This article addresses how these organizations fostered collective consciousness among women, a large and diverse group, while confronting the echoes of backlash against previous mobilization efforts by women. We argue that the March and Code Pink achieved mobilization success by creating hybrid organizations that blended elements of three major collective action frames: maternalism, egalitarianism, and feminine expression. These innovative organizations invented hybrid forms that cut across movements, constituencies, and political institutions. Using surveys, interviews, and content analysis of organizational documents, this article explains how the March and Code Pink met the contemporary challenges facing women’s collective action in similar yet distinct ways. It highlights the role of feminine expression and concerns about the intersectional marginalization of women in resolving the historic tensions between maternalism and egalitarianism. It demonstrates hybridity as a useful analytical lens to understand gendered organizing and other forms of grassroots collective action.
From World War I through the 1960s, U.S. women’s organizations regularly trekked to Capitol Hill to influence Congressional foreign policy debates. Yet by the 1990s, these groups had largely disengaged from international affairs. Why? Using an original dataset of women’s group appearances before Congress from 1916-2000, this study documents and explains this puzzling development by exploring the mutually reinforcing linkages among women’s identity, claims to issue ownership, and interest group evolution. In the case at hand, the advent of citizen and economic groups competing with women’s organizations for ownership of foreign policy questions, coupled with the declining legitimacy of gender “difference” arguments and the resurgence of “sameness” arguments, led women’s groups to focus on the dimensions of foreign policy particularly affecting women’s rights and status and to abandon less explicitly gendered foreign policy issues entirely. As multipurpose women’s associations declined in vitality, and feminist groups fueled by newly available philanthropic dollars staked claim to women’s rights-and-status questions, organized womanhood surrendered much of the foreign-policy issue space over which women had long claimed political authority, and women’s groups’ presence on Capitol Hill waned.
For at least 20 years, American universities, political scientists, and college students each have been criticized for holding themselves aloof from public life. This article introduces a pedagogical method – research service-learning (RSL) – and examines whether it can provide a means of integrating scholarly theory with civic practice to enhance student outcomes. In particular, we examine whether a modest dose of RSL in the form of an optional course add-on (the “RSL gateway option”) is associated with higher scores on 12 educational and civic measures. We find that the RSL gateway option did not have effects on some important outcomes – such as intellectual engagement, problem solving, and knowledge retention – but it did appear to open students’ eyes to future opportunities in academic research and nonprofit and public sector work. The RSL add-on also appears to have helped students make the intellectual link between scholarly theory and the challenges facing volunteers and voluntary organizations. We argue that RSL, in its gateway-option formulation, is an administratively feasible pedagogy that can simultaneously help to resolve the relevancy dilemmas facing research universities, political scientists, and students seeking connections between the classroom and public policy.
This paper grew out of our experience using research service learning as a voluntary component of PPS 114. It is coauthored with two recent Duke grads who worked for the Hart Leadership Program.