Sociology ETDs

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In the early 1980s, scholars declared the Battered Womens Movement (BWM) co-opted by institutional response. However, domestic violence policy proposals proliferated in the decade which followed, culminating in the adoption of the Violence Against Women Act by the U.S. Congress in 1993. While there was no evidence of resurgence, the BWM was anecdotally credited with these policy accomplishments. The current project is a qualitative interpretative policy analysis aimed at evaluating these seemingly contradictory claims by assessing the congruence of the content of domestic violence related policy proposals with the public messages of the BWM. Findings suggest that the BWM influenced federal domestic violence policy in both direct and indirect ways. Consistent with prior research on social movement influence on public policy, the BWM played a direct role in bringing the issue to Congress and setting the agenda for possible intervention. Movement frames also defined the contours of the larger policy domain by identifying a number of policy and institutional targets. Although members of the movement coalition were consistently involved in agenda setting, BWM influence on policy proposals lessened over time. The decrease in influence was facilitated by the influx of new institutional interests created by movement claims-making and decreasing resonance of the movement's claim to exclusive knowledge over issues of woman battering. These dynamics resulted in a mixed set of simultaneous movement frame outcomes including success, cooptation, and failure. More research is needed to improve our understanding of how changes internal and external to the policy domain mediate the influence of movement claims-making.

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First Advisor

Wood, Richard

First Committee Member (Chair)

Broidy, Lisa

Second Committee Member

Santoro, Wayne

Third Committee Member

Rocca, Michael


social movement outcomes, frame outcomes, prognostic frames, Battered Women's Movement



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