|Feminism and Politics|
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The material on Britain presented in this book is the result of three visits there: in spring 1980 and the summers of 1982 and 1984. The research in Sweden was conducted in summer 1986. Analysis of American feminism is based on research done from 1980 to 1986 for an earlier book, Women and Public Policies, and an article, "The Politics of Wife Abuse." In each country, research was based primarily on interviews with feminist scholars and activists, as well as women active in political parties, unions, and civic groups and women in elective and appointive political positions. The period studied covers the 1960s through the mid-1980s.
This book is based on both written and interview data, which are listed in the bibliography that follows.[*] The semi-structured interviews were held with activists in various segments of the women's movement, as well as women journalists, politicians, and administrative officials. Each interview lasted from one to three hours; several people were seen more than once. In each country, academics, primarily either in sociology or in political science, were extremely helpful in providing an overview and initial list of prospective contacts. Names of possible interviewees were also derived from newspapers
and from government and other publications. Most importantly, names were constantly checked with those interviewed. Although this sample does not purport to be "scientifically" representative of the women's movement in Britain, Sweden, and the United States, I believe that, within the constraints of time and availability, I was able to touch base with representatives of all relevant groups. Almost 100 women with ties to the women's movement were interviewed specifically for this project in the United Kingdom and Sweden; in the United States, as a result of research for a book, several articles, and a monograph, an equal number were reached. Inevitably, points made in interviews were counterchecked with other interviewees and in the documentary and journalistic literature as well.
Because this study is based primarily on research at the national level, it reflects a bias toward national policy-making, although in England I sought particularly to talk with several women who represented new trends at the local level. Even in England, however, the focus was London, and not other urban (nor rural) areas. In Sweden and the United States, attention centered on the capital cities of Stockholm and Washington, D.C., owing to the research focus. In many ways, the interviews provided the major core of the research, but they were also validated and reinforced by numerous other resources. Interviews were thus used to stimulate inquiry, gain data, learn about unfamiliar issues and politics (especially abroad), and check information gleaned from other sources, including other interviews and written materials.
Inevitably, there are hazards in making international comparisons based on data that are often collected in different ways. So the process of doing comparative research, while extraordinarily rewarding, is also very difficult. I have relied particularly on data supplied by each nation's statistics, although in the case of Britain this effort was complicated by the fact that the British Annual Abstract of Statistics does not classify economic activity by sex in the same manner as the
other nations. In addition, I have utilized cross-national data whenever possible, a task made more complex because the meaning of such classifications as "executive" is often undefined. I have made every effort to analyze comparative data with care, given the limitations of collection, definition, and interpretation.