Sociological Forum

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 545–576 | Cite as

The Personal Is Scientific, the Scientific Is Political: The Public Paradigm of the Environmental Breast Cancer Movement

  • Sabrina McCormickEmail author
  • Phil Brown
  • Stephen Zavestoski


This paper introduces the concept of “boundary movements” to characterize the distinctive growth and strategies of movements involving citizen/science alliances to contend with environmentally related illnesses. This concept is applied to a case study of the environmental breast cancer movement, which has induced changes in treatment options and public perception of breast cancer. Since the early 1990s, a segment of this movement has consistently criticized the traditional paradigms governing research, the epistemology of breast cancer, and popular understandings. Against the traditional focus on genetics, lifestyles, and personal responsibility, this segment's broader messages stress environmental causation and women's participation in science and politics.

social movements environment health boundary movement 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sabrina McCormick
    • 1
    Email author
  • Phil Brown
    • 1
  • Stephen Zavestoski
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of SociologyBrown UniversityProvidence
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of San FranciscoSan Francisco

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