Women and the Politics of Empowerment

edited by Ann Bookman and Sandra Morgen
Book Cover

PB: $36.95
EAN: 978-0-87722-525-6
Publication: Dec 87

HC: $39.95
EAN: 978-0-87722-504-1
Publication: Dec 87

Ebook: $36.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-0125-0

352 pages
6 x 9

Case studies of community and workplace organizing that redefine our notions of "the political"


According to popular conception, working-class women in the United States are part of the "silent majority." But during the 1970s and early 1980s these women have been far from silent. Speaking out both individually and collectively, they have staked new political ground for themselves and their families. Drawing on case studies of community and workplace organizing, these original essays redefine our notions of "the political" and address a wide range of topics, including the creation and reform of unions, domestic service, street vending, working-class education, health care, and social services.

The contributors have focused on working-class women from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds employed in a wide variety of jobs. Women and the Politics of Empowerment documents the story of women learning about the sources of their powerlessness and mobilizing to increase their power.


"Women and the Politics of Empowerment is filled with pictures of women whose lives the masculinist ideology of our disciplines has said are not worthy of our interest. Bookman, Morgen, and their colleagues awaken all kinds of ideas about where to go from here." Women & Politics

"Drawing together an excellent compilation of case studies of community and workplace organizing, Bookman and Morgen redefine the political arena and process. They focus on the statuses of working-class and low-income women from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, thereby giving attention to women who have been largely ignored as actors in the political arena…. These rich and varied case materials are useful for the scholar-researcher, the activist, and for the teacher in women's studies, social work, public policy, education, and public health." Contemporary Sociology

"Don't let the title…scare you…. The book is devoted to bridging the gap between theory and practice, between feminism and working-class women. And it succeeds, through fourteen widely disparate, yet complementary essays about working-class women, Black, Latina and white, struggling on the job and in their communities for social change." New Directions for Women

Table of Contents

Rethinking Women and Politics: An Introductory Essay – Sandra Morgen and Ann Bookman

Part I: Expanding and Redefining the Political Terrain
1. "Making Your Job Good Yourself": Domestic Service and the Construction of Personal Dignity – Bonnie Thornton Dill
2. Building in Many Places: Multiple Commitments and Ideologies in Black Women's Community Work – Cheryl Townsend Gilkes
3. Gender and Grassroots Leadership – Karen Brodkin Sacks

Part II: Gender and the Shaping of Women's Political Consciousness
4. "It's the Whole Power of the City Against Us!": The Development of Political Consciousness in a Women's Health Care Coalition – Sandra Morgen
5. Women Workers and Collective Action: A Case Study from the Insurance Industry – Cynthia B. Costello
6. The Edison School Struggle: The Reshaping of Working-Class Education and Women's Consciousness – Wendy Luttrell

Part III: Reverberations among the Spheres: Family, Workplace, and Community Networks
7. Unionization in an Electronics Factory: The Interplay of Gender, Ethnicity, and Class – Ann Bookman
8. Urban Politics in the Higher Education of Black Women: A Case Study – Andrée Nicola-McLaughlin and Zala Chandler
9. The Politics of Race and Gender: Organizing Chicana Cannery Workers in Northern California – Patricia Zavella

Part IV: Conditions, Catalysts, and Constraints: Political Economy and Grassroots Activism
10. Women Unions, and "Participative Management": Organizing in the Sunbelt – Louise Lamphere and Guillermo J. Grenier
11. Working-Class Women, Social Protest, and Changing Ideologies – Ida Susser
12. Vending on the Streets: City Policy, Gentrification, and Public Patriarchy – Roberta M. Spalter-Roth

Part V: Grassroots Organizing and Political Theory: Toward A Synthesis
13. Communities, Resistance, and Women's Activism: Some Implications for a Democratic Polity – Martha A. Ackelsberg
14. "Carry It On": Continuing the Discussion and the Struggle – Ann Bookman and Sandra Morgen
The Contributors

About the Author(s)

Ann Bookman is Assistant Director of the Mary Ingranham bunting Institute at Radcliffe College.

Sandra Morgen is Assistant Professor of Women's Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.


In the Series

  • Women in the Political Economy edited by Ronnie J. Steinberg

    No longer active. Women in the Political Economy, edited by Ronnie J. Steinberg, includes books on women and issues of work, family, social movements, politics, feminism, and empowerment. It emphasizes women's roles in society and the social construction of gender and also explores current policy issues like comparable worth, international development, job training, and parental leave.