, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 146-163

Establishing shelters for battered women: Local manifestations of a social movement

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This paper analyzes how decentralized social movements manifest themselves on the local level, by studying twenty-five social movement organizations within the battered women's movement. Data consist of in-depth interviews with group members, the study focuses on six issues faced by the groups: how they recognized the need in their communities for alternative services for battered women; how they enlisted community support; how they defined themselves in terms of feminism and the participation of men, how they developed a working relationship with the battered women whom they wanted to help; how they structured their organizations; and how they established goals and strategies. Since the groups were at different stages of development, a dynamic analysis is made of each issue. Groups dealt with the issues on the basis of local resources, values, and other conditions. The movement's structure allowed this independence, which strengthened each group's ability to mobilize resources and accomplish goals. However, it also resulted in local decisions that were often inconsistent with movement goals and weakened the ability of movement leaders to control strategy.

The author is grateful to Barrie Thorne, Kathleen Ferraro, the editors and two anonymous reviewers of QUALITATIVE SOCIOLOGY for their extensive reviews of earlier drafts of this paper. Support for writing the paper was provided by a summer fellowship from the Faculty Research Committee of the University of Richmond.