A new approach in the study of women and social change

Women Living Change

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Susan C. Bourque and Donna Robinson Divine

Ground-breaking, multi-disciplinary, and cross-cultural in focus—this book founds a new approach in the study of women and social change. Eight original essays based on the work of the Smith College Research Project on Women and Social Change examine the rich responses of individual women to the complex currents of political and economic change in the United States, the Middle East, Latin America, and Europe.

How do women come to engage in change on their own behalf? How is change reflected in individual action and in group formation? What does change mean to them, their family and friends, and the societies in which they live? How do women make sense of dramatic political and economic shifts? How do women express their perceptions of change through symbol, ritual, and literary voice? And how do women’s responses reshape political and economic trends? By addressing questions such as these, the authors humanize and make accessible to us a cogent understanding of women and change and why many women reject change.

A theoretical introductory chapter identities the significant comparative dimension of the essays and introduces a framework for investigation which links macro-level concepts about social change with the personal lives of individual women who participate in this change. Memoirs, literary works, interviews, and autobiographies of women who have reflected on, written about, or simply talked about the impact of wars, revolutions, nation-building, and community action movement—these provide a wide scope of source material for the study. We come to appreciate the effects of change on women and the world through the words of actual women who have known the changing world.

Appropriate for use in courses in political science, anthropology, sociology, psychology, and women’s studies, this volume is especially valuable for courses which question implications of interdisciplinary methodology, and courses which affirm the importance of innovative comparative frameworks for study.


About the Author(s)

Susan Bourque is Professor of Government at Smith College. She is co-author of the award-winning study, Women of the Andes.

Donna Robinson Divine is Associate Professor of Government at Smith. Both authors are Coordinators of the Smith College Research Project on Women and Social Change.

Subject Categories

Women's Studies



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