Since the 1970s, research on women’s movements and feminisms has rapidly increased. The present wealth of theoretical approaches and empirical studies cannot be discussed fully here, meaning the omission of many excellent studies. Research on women’s movements worldwide up to the mid-1990s is included in Lenz et al., Frauenbewegungen international. Eine Arbeitsbibliographie (International Women’s Movements. A Working Bibliography; Opladen: Leske+Budrich, 1996; accessible in English). I will first discuss works on the diverse currents of women’s movements, then touch on their internationalization and introduce some studies on their effects.
Women’s movements developed in the context of such diverse socio-political currents as liberalism, maternalism, socialism, anarchism, nationalism and anti-colonialism. Karen Offen traced liberal, maternalist and socialist in Europe in her seminal European Feminisms 1700–1950: A Political History (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2000). Gerda Lerner described the genealogies of feminist thinking in Europe in The Creation of Feminist Consciousness. From the Middle Ages to 1870 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994). Ann Taylor Allen, Feminism and Motherhood in Western Europe, 1890–1970: The Maternal Dilemma (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005) focused on maternalism which emphasized gender difference and women’s potential as social mothers. Socialist women’s movements are still under-studied after a first series of publications from about 1975 to 1995. The heyday of anarchist feminism has been described by Martha A. Ackelsberg in Free Women of Spain: Anarchism and the Struggle for the Emancipation of Women (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991). Patricia Hill Collins, Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment (New York, London: Routledge, 2nd edn, 2000) is a classic of US black feminism.
While anti-colonial and national democratic women’s movements have been researched in diverse world regions, due to restrictions of space I can refer only to East Asia: Wang Zheng, Women in the Chinese Enlightenment. Oral and Textual Histories (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), Louise Edwards, Women Politics and Democracy: Women’s Suffrage in China (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2008) or Vera Mackie’s long-term study (1880–2000) on Feminism in Modern Japan: Citizenship, Embodiment and Sexuality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003).
Several collections cover the scope and diversity of feminist thinking from the 1960s, mainly in Western Europe and the United States (including black feminism and women of colour): Barbara A. Crow, Radical Feminism. A Documentary Reader (New York: New York University Press, 2000) focuses on the radical feminist and lesbian texts in the 1970s and 1908s in the United States. Diana Tietjens Meyers, Feminist Social Thought. A Reader (London: Routledge, 1997) contains main feminist debates on the construction of gender, care, difference and equality. Leslie H. Heywood, The Women’s Movement Today: An Encyclopedia of Third Wave Feminism (2 vols., Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2006) introduces the third wave’s key issues mainly from the United States. Carole McCann and Seung-kyung Kim (eds), Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives (New York: Routledge, 2013) collect US, European and global texts. Donald Hall and Annamarie Jagose, The Routledge Queer Studies Reader (London: Routledge, 2013) trace the emergence and development of Queer Studies. Lisa Disch and Mary Hawkesworth (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Feminist Theory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016) discuss the genealogy of key feminist topics and treat the development and actual state of main debates. The Asian Center for Women’s Studies, Women’s Studies in Asia Series (Seoul: Ewha Womans University Press, 8 vols., 2005) is an excellent compendium on feminisms and gender studies in eight East Asian societies including issues of global and local influences on framing theories. Judith Lorber, Gender Inequality. Feminist Theories and Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012) gives a brilliant comparative overview of the basic feminist currents in Europe and the United States. Regina Becker-Schmidt and Gudrun Axeli Knapp, Feministische Theorie zur Einführung (Hamburg: Junius, 2000) sum up feminist critical theory between subject constitution and changing social structure.
Source collections of the movement discourses and practices are Ilse Lenz, Die Neue Frauenbewegung in Deutschland. Abschied vom kleinen Unterschied. Eine Quellensammlung. (The New Women’s Movement in Germany. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag, 2nd edn, 2010) for Germany with comprehensive introductions and annotations. For Japan Michiko Mae and Ilse Lenz, Frauenbewegung in Japan (The Women’s Movement in Japan. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag, 2017).
Internationalization and, later, globalization were fundamental for women’s movements from their emergence in the eighteenth century until the present. The internationalization of liberal and maternalist currents and their organizations until about 1945 is treated by Leila J. Rupp, Worlds of Women. The Making of an International Women’s Movement (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997). Clare Midgley, Feminism and Empire. Women Activists in Imperial Britain 1790–1865 (London: Routledge, 2007) explores connections between early metropolitan feminisms, colonialism and imperialism. Karen Offen (ed.), Globalising Feminism 1789–1945 (London: Routledge, 2009) looks at internationalization, for instance, of religious or suffrage movements and of the socialist concept of ‘Bourgeois feminism’.
The globalization of women’s movements and their outstanding effects in the context of the UN decades of women after 1975 stimulated important research. Gülay Caglar et al. (eds), Feminist Strategies in international Governance (London: Routledge, 2013) and Myra Marx Ferree and Aili Mari Tripp, Global Feminism. Transnational Women’s Activism, Organizing and Human Rights (New York: New York University Press, 2006) analyse crucial processes and strategies of feminisms in global governance. Susanne Zwingel, Translating International Women’s Rights: The CEDAW Convention in Context (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016) studies the multilateral framing and the efficiency of this first obligatory global norm for gender equality. Valentine Moghadam, Globalizing Women. Transnational Feminist Networks (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005) analyses leading global feminist networks working against global inequalities for gender justice. She also co-edited an important volume on Making Globalization Work for Women. The Role of Social Rights and Trade Union Leadership (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2011). Kathy Davis, The Making of Our Bodies, Ourselves. How Feminism Travels Across Borders (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007) traces the global reception and local rewriting of a feminist sexual health reader first published in the United States in a brilliant case study of transcultural change.
The Research Network on Gender Politics and the State (RNGS, 1995–2012) cooperated in comparative studies on institutional and policy effects of the New Women’s movements after 1970: Joni Lovenduski (ed.), State Feminism and Political Representation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005); Dorothy McBride Stetson (ed.), Abortion Politics, Women’s Movements and the Democratic State: A Comparative Study of State Feminism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001); Joyce Outshoorn (ed.), The Politics of Prostitution: Women’s Movements, Democratic States and the Globalisation of Sex Commerce (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004); Joyce Outshoorn et al. (eds), European Women’s Movements and Body Politics. The Struggle for Autonomy (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). Aili M. Tripp, African Women’s Movements: Transforming Political Landscapes: Changing Political Landscapes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009) compares the political and social changes effected by women’s movements in African societies. Seung-kyung Kim, The Korean Women’s Movement and the State. Bargaining for Change (London, New York, Routledge, 2014) analyses the impact of feminism on legislation on gender equality in the family and prostitution.
Looking at the societal impact, Nancy Fraser, Fortunes of Feminism: From State-Managed Capitalism to Neoliberal Crisis (London: Verso, 2013) criticizes the cooption of mainstream feminism by neoliberalism. Sylvia Walby The Future of Feminism (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2011) rather sees advances in EU gender policy as well as contradictions between precarization and increasing female autonomy.