|Feminism and Politics|
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This study has examined the different directions taken by feminism in three nations, emphasizing the importance of external factors, including political institutions, cultural traits, and values on the resulting movement structures and goals.
Swedish politics, we have found, presents a model of consensus and corporatism, as well as an all-encompassing state that directs most citizen-related activity and tends to incorporate those activities existing outside the boundaries of state policy. The British system is distinguished by a centralized bureaucratic state and a "dichotomous" ideological context in which conflictual politics tend to predominate. In the United States a less organized, somewhat adversarial pluralism reigns in a system distrustful of centralized power and welfare policies. In turn, the character of feminism has been shaped by the character of the state as well as economic factors and the strength (or weakness) of traditional values and attitudes. Thus, we have argued that in Sweden
a form of state equality concerning women exists in the absence of an organized movement (albeit with a feminist "presence," primarily in the sphere of elective partisan politics). In Britain, ideological/left-wing feminism is in part a product of the closed and conflictual political system. In the United States, a less ideological and more pragmatic political setting has led to a mass-based liberal/equal rights feminism. The prevalent mode of activism has been interest group lobbying for power rather than integration in parties and unions in the manner of the European movements.
In this concluding chapter, we assess the societal impact and success of each approach to equality and self-determination for women.
Definitions of what constitutes social movement "success" may vary. Success may refer to legitimization of a group's goals, change in individual or group consciousness, and/or change in public policy outcomes involving redistribution of social goals and changes in power relations (Jenkins 1983:544). For some, political access for hitherto excluded groups constitutes success. Success may also refer to the mere fact of survival, and/or the creation of alternative sources of power through the development of new organizational forms (Rowbotham 1983:136). It is evident that the movement in each nation has succeeded in different terms, partially because of different goals and the systemic factors that constrain political activism.
We have shown that the most active part of the British feminist movement emphasizes expressiveness, personal transformation, consciousness, and changed belief systems. It eschews formal structure and hierarchy and is centered in small groups that stress life experience and self-help politics. In Gerlach and Hine's (1970:55)
terms, it is segmentedlocalized, autonomous, and ever changingand decentralized. Nonetheless, it lacks the reticulate, or networking structure that they see as inherent to movement groupings. Largely as a result of ideological conflicts and the consequent failure to coordinate action and permit the sharing of resources, networking efforts, particularly important at the national level, are absent. Social movement organizations in the United States have been far more likely to form coalitions in order to realize their goals (McCarthy and Zald 1977).
As several researchers (Zald and Ash 1966; Curtis and Zurcher 1974) point out, movements adopt different forms depending on their goals, with personal change movements adapting decentralized structures and exclusive membership, while institutional change movements are typically centralized and inclusive. Although the goals of grass-roots participation, service, and transformation of aims are more likely to be realized in decentralized structures, the costs may lie in the failure to influence the larger political system, as in the British case. Bureaucratic structures provide skill and coordination but may sacrifice participatory goals, as is sometimes true of the American movement (Zald and Ash 1966). One trend in the United Kingdom that may effectively interact with the structure and values that predominate among women's groups is the growing interest of local council governments in aiding feminist efforts.
Clearly, the British movement has succeeded in creating local activities emphasizing consciousness and life-style transformation in numerous (primarily urban) centers throughout the country. British feminism has also defied traditional sociological rules regarding the origins and maintenance of social movements. Rather
than becoming bureaucratized and less radical, the British movement has retained its ideological fervor and commitment and has continued to seek new alternative structures (Bouchier 1984:179). The degree of activism and commitment is impressive, even to the casual observer. Movement groupings and activist outposts created in the 1970s survive. These include Women in the Media, NAC, the NWAF, Rights of Women (the voluntary legal arm of British feminism), and the Women's Rights unit of the NCCL, as well as Women Against Violence Against Women (WAVAW) (Van der Gaag 1985:137). As Jenson (1982:373) has observed, the movement's main contribution may be simply its survival, in contrast to the largely esoteric state of the formerly active French and Italian (as well as other continental) movements. The British movement remains the most vital and important one in Europe, although the numbers involved in some grass-roots groups may have declined since the 1970s (Coultas 1981:36).
Although the British movement's origins were in many ways similar to those in the United States (even prompted initially by infusions of Americans who served as catalysts), the movement was never characterized by either mass demonstrations (other than the Corrie effort discussed earlier) or a strong national presence. Its internecine struggles, largely between sectors of radical and socialist feminism, remain unresolved. One effort in conjunction with the TUCthe march to fight restrictions in the abortion act, demonstrated both the mass potential of the movement and its internal conflicts. This march was probably the largest demonstration over a social issue that Britain had ever seen (Bassnett 1986:157). Nonetheless, it revealed the chasm between women and the trade union movement and between socialist
and radical feminists. The radical feminists resented what they perceived as male usurpation of the movement (as women were placed fifth in a seven-place march) and ran to the front with their banners. Three women were arrested in a later scuffle with police for hoisting the women's liberation banner; a feeling of hostility was thus one result of the day's effort, though not the only one. The effort at the Greenham Common missile installation three years later resolved some of these conflicts through a separatist, women-only protest. Thirty thousand strong, it helped to bring women from all groups together and to generate widespread awareness of the dangers of nuclear proliferation. A major question for British feminism remains the centrality of "cultural" versus "political" feminism, a question we will return to because of its significance in the movement's failure to create a meaningful national presence.
In the United Kingdom, parties and unions occupy a majorif decliningpolitical role, and a tradition of left/socialist thought has been strong. Although activity in party and trade union politics may be viewed as equivalent to the American liberal/equal rights movement, little evidence for this perspective exists. This analysis is thus in considerable disagreement with the view expressed by Hewlett (1986:170), who argues that in both England and Sweden the most effective women's groups have been embedded in parties and unions, not in separate feminist organizations. Rather, it appears that women's participation in established British institutions has been marked by marginalization, with women organized into separate advisory groups and limited to a handful of mandated seats on executive committees. The major union force, the TUC, has endorsed,
lobbied for, and even demonstrated for numerous progressive policies on behalf of women (especially in the case of abortion, referred to earlier). Nonetheless, where issues of economic and political power are involved, there is greater hesitancy.
In addition, tensions exist between socialism and feminism and between the hierarchical unions/parties and feminist ideology, as the march against the Corrie Bill demonstrated. However, at their most effective, women's groups within parties may serve as forums through which women's demands and concerns can be highlighted. Nonetheless, Jenson's (1982:370) contention that British feminism has emerged from a decade of political isolation and an exclusive grass-roots focus to help unite the Left and the Labour Party seems premature, based on the analysis presented here. The energetic activity of women within Labour and the organized Left notwithstanding, thus far their policy- and decision-making impact has been limited.
Despite the existence of numerous progressive policies pertaining to women in the United Kingdom, the absence of a feminist movement that can set a policy agenda, speak for itself, and engage in dialogue regarding specific policy initiatives has resulted in serious gaps between policy and implementation. The upshot: a strangely limited vision of feminist goals and ideals, which has, in fact, led to less societal change than might be expected.
In the United States a tradition of reform, the absence of a strong socialist Left, and the impact of interest groups in decision-making have combined to produce a different type of movement. In part reflecting the increased weakness of parties and unions politically, feminists have organized as separatist or gender-based
groups outside established structures (Adams and Winston 1980:104). This approach has given them significant autonomy in strategy, as a recent trend in the direction of electoral efforts demonstrates. American feminism is characterized by far greater inclusivity of different views than its British counterpart; coalition building and networking are movement watchwords. The American movement has also forged an accommodation between the more "radical" women's liberation movement and the middle-class reformist one (it has also developed strong linkages with traditional women's groups, such as the League of Women Voters and the YWCA).
The most visible manifestation of American feminism is the traditional interest group, organized as a hierarchical structure with staff dominance. Groups such as NOW have moved in the direction of mass membership, while such feminist groups as WEAL, the Center for Women Policy Studies, and the NWPC fit the McCarthy/Zald model of funded social movement organizations relying on "conscience constituencies" or contributors for resources and staff for day-to-day decision-making and long-term strategizing (Handler 1978:8; McCarthy and Zald 1975:11). As the history of the movement against domestic violence demonstrates, even nontraditional groups with grass-roots origins are pulled toward political engagement and greater professionalization. American feminists have been eclectic and pragmatic in their use of strategiesfrom protest to litigation and campaigning. Nonetheless, although American feminist groups have moved much further than British ones in the direction of traditional organizational structure (which most reformist lobbying groups have always utilized in the United States), they have not abandoned
feminist policy goals in the interests of organizational maintenance. Thus, although different from their British counterparts in structure and ideology, the movements have each remained firmly committed to their own feminist vision of the "good society."
In Sweden, feminist movement politics per se has played a minor role, although "equality" and "family" issues have been given primacy by the SDP and other parties. Women's federations in four of Sweden's five parties have provided a context for some policies pertaining to women and for recruitment of women to party and political office. Although various data in this chapter suggest that women are dissatisfied with Swedish efforts to achieve "equality," at present apparently no mechanism exists to capitalize on this discontent and move beyond the egalitarian rhetoric (so dominant a feature in Swedish society) to a new stage of political endeavor on behalf of women.
So far in this chapter, we have examined the role of women's politics in changing individual consciousness, creating alternative political structures, and simply surviving as organizational structures. Hence, we have been concerned with movements (or their absence) primarily at the individual and structural/organizational level. Now, recalling our initial definitions of movement success, we will examine other facets of the success, or impact, of women's politics: 1) the impact on changed policy outcomes and 2) the impact on group and societal consciousness as well as the legitimization of group goals (see Table 9). To assess the latter, in particular, we rely on attitudinal and economic data on the three nations under consideration. We will try to distinguish between those gains that have been made in the welfare state and those that have involved a changed role for
Impact of Changes in Individual and Group Consciousness
|Legitimation of group goals||-||-||+|
|Access to power structure||+||-||+|
|Changes in power relations||+||-||+|
|Public policy outcomes||++||+||++|
|Creation of alternative sources of power||-||+||++|
|NOTE : - = little or none; + = somewhat; ++ = significant.|
women in society because of increased economic opportunities. We will divide our discussion into 1) attitudes that demonstrate consciousness of the women's movement and support for feminist issues, 2) attitudes toward child care and domestic workor the persistence of traditional attitudes toward sex roles, and 3) evidence of changed economic roles for women as a result of more employment opportunities.
We have already noted that the British movement has succeeded in changing the consciousness of its individual members and in creating new, localized alternative power and service structures. With regard to other measures of successfor instance, those involving the larger society and policy outcomesthe movement's achievements have been less impressive. Efforts to increase collective awareness of movement goals and to gain broadened support within the political system may involve potential members, allies, and the general public. Measured
by this standard, the total membership of British feminist activists has been estimated as one-tenth of 1 percent (or 20,000) of the female population, indicating a huge distance to go to reach even a fraction of the women in the United Kingdom (Bouchier 1984:178). In contrast, membership in traditional British women's groups is close to a million (ibid.). Only a small segment of British women have been reached by the women's liberation movement in its various manifestations, and the movement remains isolated, both by deliberate design and because of the obstacles created by British economic and political institutions. Despite the mobilization potential evident in the case of abortion rights and Greenham Common, the movement remains on the fringes of British life, its marginal position reinforced by media emphasis on the movement's domination by antimale radical feminists. The failure to reach more traditional women may be seen in a 1981 Spare Rib poll that compared the responses of Spare Rib readers (associated with the women's liberation movement) with women in the more traditional Townswomen's Guilds (see Table 10).
Similarly, despite the media attention given the women's protest at Greenham Common in December 1982, there is little evidence that most women have changed their opinion about the cruise missile as a result of that effort. The balance of women had the same opinion after the demonstrations as they had had three years earlier (Spare Rib , May 1984:18). A Guardian poll in January 1983 showed about 23 percent of women to be in favor of the Greenham Common activists' goalthat Britain abandon nuclear weaponswhich was actually 10 percent fewer than four months earlier (before the protest). Spare Rib rightfully concludes that Greenham has not especially raised women's awareness of the
nuclear threat, at least as measured by national polls. In conducting their own, more limited poll, most women interviewed by Spare Rib objected to the all-female nature of the protest, and the magazine's survey found that working-class women were less supportive of the Greenham Common protest and of feminism than their middle-class sisters (ibid., 19 -128; -147;20).
The American movement has grown in size and heterogeneity, particularly in the Reagan era, where apparent disaster has been turned to advantage in terms of group mobilization. NOW, for example, grew from 125,000 (in 1978) to 250,000 in several years. This number has fluctuated considerably as the attention of the public has wandered from one issue to another (similar phenomena have been observed with regard to other reform groups) (McFarland 1984:203; Bomafede 1986:2175). As of 1985, the dues-paying membership of the feminist movement numbered about 300,000 (Gelb and Palley 1987:26). Despite the relatively small membership (augmented considerably if the million-odd members of the more traditional women's groups allied with feminists are added), support for feminists among the American populace appears to be far broader and more significant than is the case in Britain.
American women's support for feminism also appears
to be substantial: 56 percent of them said in 1986 they considered themselves feminist, 28 percent said they were not, and a mere 4 percent indicated they were antifeminists (Newsweek , March 31, 1986:51). A majority of women also indicated that the women's movement had affected their lives positively (18 percent very much, 53 percent fairly much). A 1981 poll indicated that 4 percent of women and 2 percent of men contributed to the women's rights movement (about 4.5 million people), and that one of every 300 women is active in some type of feminist activity (Bouchier 1984:180). A survey by Janet Boles (1984:84) as far back as 1974 found that the total membership of women's rights groups (including the NWPC, NOW, the League of Women Voters, and the National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs) was 56.77 per 10,000, indicating a fairly significant pattern of participation, which is likely to be much higher a decade later, given the trends we have outlined. As Ruth Mandel (quoted in Bomafede 1986:2175) has noted, "The women's rights movement is in a process of diffusion. It is spread, assimilated and incorporated throughout society at various levels and [has] become part of the social fabric." Underscoring acceptance of many feminist views were the results of a recent New York Times poll. Twenty-eight percent of those surveyed indicated that the women's movement had made their lives better, and these respondents were most likely to be young and educated. Among those who responded favorably, improved job opportunities were cited most often as being a result of the women's movement (New York Times , Dec. 19, 1983:316). Similarly, while strong differences separate college-educated women from their more traditional (and more numerous) sisters, over the past decade the more egalitarian
views of the former have begun to make inroads among the latter (Poole and Zeigler 1985:vii), and we contend that American sex role attitudes have become increasingly egalitarian. Growing numbers of less-educated women were found in a recent study to be more receptive to egalitarian views, although not necessarily to what is perceived as the more "radical" women's liberation movement (ibid., 10 -128; -147;24).
In the United States a 1980 survey found that, on a five-point scale, attitudes changed from 3.2 to 2.9 toward liberation, while in Britain rightward shifts on women's rights, abortion, and welfare were more evident (Robertson 1984:236). In Sweden, as we noted earlier, women's liberation is viewed as anathema by many men, hostility to the movement apparently existing out of all proportion to the limited strength of feminist organizations and views, at least among elite males. In any event, Swedish surveys do not reveal women's attitudes regarding feminism, because the movement in Sweden has been oriented differently. In the United Kingdom there appears to be considerable ambivalence regarding the movement, its accomplishments, and the potential role of women (despite the political success of a female prime minister), although British women are only a bit less opposed to traditional role constraints than are their American counterparts (Dex and Shaw 1986:25). While four-fifths of Americans say they would vote for a qualified woman for president (up from one-third in 1937) (Bianchi and Spahn 1986:238), in Britain, after Thatcher's election as prime minister, 64 percent agreed that it made no difference whether a woman held the office, while 25 percent said a woman was "not as good." Support for the notion of "greater confidence" in a woman as a member of Parliament has dropped
Favorable Feeling Toward Women's Liberation Movement
|SOURCE : Allerbuck, Jennings, and Rosenmayr 1979:497.|
(from 5 percent of men and 12 percent of women supportive in 1975 to 2 percent and 4 percent, respectively, in 1983), perhaps reflecting some defection of women from Thatcher's social policies (International Gallup Poll 1981:177, 273).
Studies comparing attitudes toward feminism and women's social role in the United States and Britain also offer some striking differences. One study found British youth much less supportive of women's liberation than their European or American counterparts, suggesting that generational change has been far more limited in the United Kingdom (see Table 11).
Of particular note is the limited nature of value change that has taken place in the United Kingdom. Inglehart (1977:34) found that Britain exhibited the smallest amount of generational change of any nation in his cross-country survey. Another report of intra-European opinion on feminism reveals British women (and men) to hold a higher proportion of negative views than citizens of any other European nation except Italy. The degree of polarization cutting male/female lines is notable (Hernes 1983: Table 6). Although strictly comparable data are difficult to obtain, a 1979 poll showed 63 percent
of Americans and only 40 percent of the British agreeing that the part played by women in their nation had changed a lot (International Gallup Poll 1981:272). Britons are reported to have the poorest opinion of women's liberation of any Europeans (Euro-Barometer 1983:179).
A 1983 survey found more Britons "disagreeing with women who claim there should be fewer differences between men's and women's role in society" than in any other European nation surveyed, as well as profounder disagreements regarding female family roles (e.g., housework and child care) than elsewhere in Europe (ibid., 134, 137). More British men preferred that their wives not be in paid employment (ibid., 164). These findings are confirmed by a recent survey that found that British husbands were not supportive of working wives: only 41 percent of women said their husbands were enthusiastic about their working. While in many instances working wives were tolerated by their husbands, this was true only if their employment did not interfere with their domestic life or the husband's work (Employment Gazette , May 1984:206).
Female attitudes toward work have undergone considerable transformation, with only 25 percent of women indicating that women's place should remain in the home; a majority believe that work is beneficial for women (ibid., 203). Among younger women, a vast majority say they wish to return to work after having children. However, 53 percent of British women (in contrast to 21 percent of American and 35 percent of Swedish women) say that women should quit their jobs when
they have children and return to work only after their children are grown up (Hastings and Hastings 1985:714). At the same time, British women accept the view that work is beneficial, but only if it can balance with and accommodate their primary domestic role (Employment Gazette , May 1984:203). Opposition to feminism may combine with the poor economic conditions in Britain to reinforce the concept of the "family wage" discussed earlier and keep women in a secondary role in the labor force.
British women consider their career less important than their home. Eighty-nine percent of surveyed women of working age felt that a woman's first duty was to home responsibilities, 61 percent said that a woman's first duty was to her marriage, and only 31 percent thought they could be loyal both to marriage and to a job. For 69 percent, their husband's career had priorityand 55 percent of the respondents were under 25 (Rose 1986:159)! While a poll of Townswomen's Guild respondents did reveal that a majority (69 percent) supported the view that it was good for women to work, 75 percent indicated that such work was "bad for children" and 71 percent thought that it was undermining the family (Spare Rib , Nov. 1981:24). Forty-eight percent of men and 38 percent of women interviewed in 1979 agreed that women should remain at home with children under 10 (International Gallup Poll 1981:272).
In contrast, in the United States, 63 percent of women interviewed in one poll indicated that they would want to work outside the home in the future, even if they had enough money to live comfortably without working. Another poll found a majority of American women indicating they wished to combine home and career, while slightly under half of men and women interviewed said
they favored a new concept of marriage in which husband and wife share work and domestic responsibilities (Ms. , July 1984:60; Roper Organization 1980:30 -128; -147;33). By 1982, 75 percent of Americans said they approved of women working outside the home, and over 80 percent favored joint responsibility for raising children (Bianchi and Spahn 1986:239). In 1985, only 22 percent (down from 57 percent in 1967) of American college freshmen interviewed said they believe the activities of married women are best confined to the home (Chronicle of Higher Education , Nov. 5, 1986:32). Even women's Political Action Committees are increasingly approved by the American publicwith favorable responses rising from 11 percent in November 1982 to 64 percent in May 1984 (Hastings and Hastings 1985:374). (In 1985, support for union PACs was recorded as 34 percent.)
In Britain, compulsory military service for women is favored by 35 percent of the public; in the United States, by 53 percent (Hastings and Hastings 1982:262 -128; -147;63). In all three of the societies under study, women continue to perform more household tasks than men, but in the United States, particularly, there is some evidence of more equal sharing of tasks, especially child care and economic roles (e.g., bill paying) (Bianchi and Spahn 1986:231).
Data collected by the University of Wisconsin's Comparative Project on Class Structure and Class Consciousness[*] indicate similar attitudes by U.S. and Swedish respondents toward sex roles, with one exception. As the data in Table 12 show, the exception is that whereas 66 percent of American women believe that traditional learned sex roles benefit the family, almost 60% of Swedish
Attitudes Toward Sex Roles (Percentage of Respondents Agreeing)
|Traditional roles benefit family||66%||41%|
|Housework should be shared equally||95%||97%|
|Not enough women are employed in business||77%||85%|
women disagree. Egalitarian attitudes toward housework are similar in both countries. Perhaps reflecting the economic stratification in Sweden that we will discuss later, even more Swedish than American women would like to see a larger role for their sex in business.
Other Swedish data reveal some division between parties on ideological linesand, increasingly, divisions between men and womenon women's issues. The data over time suggest a trend toward conservatism regarding some issues, a trend that may affect women adversely in the welfare state. Growing imbalances in the economy appear to make cuts in public expenditures inevitable (Erickson and Aberg 1987:13). Conflicts in discussions of distributive policy have become sharper as well, so that the very real gains women have enjoyed as beneficiaries of the policies of the progressive Swedish welfare state may be in question. The absence of an organized feminist movement to press for continued commitment of social policies may be critical, although the trend toward advocacy by joint groupings of women's organizations from the different parties may lead to collective action on this front. To date, collective action has been limited to "sexual" or "woman-specific" matters (e.g., rape and pornography), which do not directly affect the parties' socioeconomic policy commitments.
Since 1976, of the two leftist parties, the VPK has been especially supportive of such issues as day care and the six-hour work day.[*] In 1985 over 80 percent of the VPK and about 70 percent of the SDP favored the building of more day-care centers and the six-hour workday.
Swedish surveys reveal that the concept of equal representation in Parliament for men and women has received little backing from any quarter. Principles loosely related to "affirmative action" are viewed with considerable apprehension by the Swedish public. Interestingly, given the state commitment to economic equality and independence for women, 46 percent of men and 48 percent of women in 1979 indicated that men should get jobs first. Another response that may signal difficulty ahead for the welfare state was the considerable support for reducing the public sector and social welfare commitment in 1982 and 1985. Prohibition of pornography, an issue initially supported by the more conservative parties, has come to reflect a dichotomy between male and female views. From 1979 to 1985 women consistently supported a ban in far greater numbers than men (in 1982, 51 percent of women, 28 percent of men; in 1985, 68 percent of women, 43 percent of men). There appears to be a growing awareness of this issue, which was highlighted by an all-women party demonstration in Stockholm. Eduards (1986) has noted that a majority of women (but not men) also favor the use of quotas to gain election to the Riksdag for women and oppose jobs for men first. (Some data also suggest a gender gap on the issue of abortion, with more women against [Eduards 1986; Sainsbury 1983]!) Whether these trends
augur a new feminist consciousness that may be translated into group activism is questionable, given the continued prevalence of norms related to Swedish political consensus within the corporate state. What is worth noting, however, is the apparent emergence of a separate female consciousness about some key women's concerns.
Opinion polls in the early 1980s found some contradictory responses to survey questions among the three nations (Hastings and Hastings 1985:707). Whereas 63 percent of Swedish respondents and 59 percent of American ones felt that men and women were treated equally, only 47 percent of British respondents thought so (and 40 percent replied that men were treated more favorably). Nonetheless, it is difficult to measure whether these data reflect a more truly egalitarian role for women in Swedish society or simply acceptance of the well-known institutionalized rhetoric. Table 13 presents a comparison of responses regarding 1) sexual equality in politics and 2) general customs and practices.
The data in the table indicate, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, that a far higher proportion of Swedish than American women perceive that equality has not been attained in politics or social life.
Distribution of Household Responsiblities
|Done by men||76||39|
|Shared partially or equally||11||47|
|Done by wife||66||46|
|Shared partially or equally||31||45|
|Done by wife||73||55|
|Shared partially or equally||22||35|
|SOURCES: Hastings and Hastings 1982:239; 1983:285.|
A crucial measure of egalitarian views is the distribution of household responsibilities (see Table 14).
In Sweden, despite the legal encouragement given to sexual equality, few husbands participate in child care, and other traditional sex roles appear to have remained entrenched. Thus, it appears that labor force participation per se has little impact on sharing of customary sex roles, particularly given the high incidence of part-time work among women, which is likely to reinforce existing patterns of domestic responsibility.
According to a 1976 study on Swedes at work by the Swedish Central Bureau of Statistics (cited in Scott 1982:78), in families where husband and wife were both employed full time:
As for the time spent by Swedish men who did "some" of the cleaning, shopping, cooking, and so on, a sample survey of 7,000 women made by the Committee on Equality in 1978 revealed that, overall (including families with women who were not employed full-time), men spent less than half as much time as women in daily routine household tasks. Sex segregation and "ubiquitous part-time work" have reinforced women's almost full responsibility for the household (Erickson and Aberg 1987:9).
Although the role of women in the domestic sphere still completely overshadows that of men, recent data demonstrate some movement toward leveling. From 1974 to 1981, men doubled their share of the family domestic responsibilities from a minute 7 percent to 14 percent. Differences between age groups are remarkably small and gender roles still very strong, although a larger percentage of men share household tasks with fulltime working wives (Tahlin 1987:238). Recent Swedish survey data demonstrate that sex role differentiation in the home remains marked. Women are almost exclusively responsible for care of clothing (e.g., laundry, mending, and ironing). They are disproportionately involved in cooking, cleaning, and washing up and in child care as well (Equality Ministry 1985:57 -128; -147;58), while men engage in repair work, gardening, and car and boat maintenance.
Nonetheless, the distribution of household responsibilities reveals a more egalitarian division of labor between husbands and wives in Sweden and in the United States than in Britain, where, for instance, a larger majority of wives clean house. Similar patterns appear with regard to washing dishes, although in the United States, children are the most likely to help out (Hastings and Hastings 1985:712). American women are also the
most likely to undertake such male-oriented tasks as gardening and lawn mowing (ibid.). (Nonetheless, in a recent survey of women only a fraction of U.S. respondents thought that real householding decision-making power was shared equally by both partners; and the Swedes were the fewest of all respondents to agree that males should be the major breadwinners and women should stay at home, which at least demonstrates the prevalence of the full-employment philosophy in Swedish culture [Hernes 1983:49].)
The data suggest that strong patterns of gender polarization and traditional sex role socialization persist even among the sons and daughters of the welfare state. Earlier we noted similar patterns discernible with regard to the taking of parental and sick leave. Data on political participation by women also demonstrate a continued separation between the public and private spheres among all socioeconomic classes in Sweden (Szulkin 1987:207 -128; -147;9), although the differences have narrowed somewhat in the last decade. However, union-meeting activity among women in Class I (primarily SACO/SR) and the proportion of women holding office in the LO declined from 1974 to 1981perhaps a reflection of the increased growth of the part-time sector and lessened attachments to the workplace. Women's participation in corporate channels lagged behind men's by at least 10 percent. But data from the 1970s reveal decreasing gender differences in union and party activity and other efforts to influence the political process, especially in the 16 -128; -147;24 age group. Whether these patterns may continue to survive the demands of domestic responsibilities and counter prevalent trends in which males "out-participate" women is open to speculation (ibid., 201; Sainsbury 1983).
Clearly, support for some of feminism's basic goals,
including sex role modification, has met with great resistance not only in the more traditional United Kingdom but even in the "egalitarian" society that Sweden has forged. In turn, as we have seen, the persistence of traditional values has constrained political opportunities for feminists and, together with the rigid nature of the political system, has limited their options. The British movement in particular has a long way to go in gaining support of women who do not enter into competition with men, and therefore do not feel unequal, and in convincing the vast majority who are married, have been married, or expect to be married that the feminist movement they perceive as antimale is relevant to their lives (Hills 1981:104).
Public policy reflecting feminist concerns has resulted in Sweden, the United States, and Britain; in each of the three nations, legislation on equal pay, sex discrimination, abortion, and domestic violence is in effect. However, the policy process both leading to and involving implementation of legislation has been significantly different in each nation, thus influencing policy impact. In the United States, policy has largely been the result of lobbying by gender-based groups. As noted earlier, gender-based policy networks are made possible by the emphasis on coalition formation and the relative openness of the political system to group participation.
Even though public policy in the United Kingdom on such movement goals as equal pay, sex discrimination, abortion, and domestic violence has reflected feminist concerns (if not direct influence) via trade union and Labour Party politics, the impact of policy change has been minimal. Some of the efforts made toward these
goals were prompted at least in part by EEC directives requiring equal pay and job equality. A major exception is in the area of abortion policy, where a coalition of trade unionists, feminists, and Labour Party activists has effectively intervened to prevent weakening of the existing law. (In addition to demonstrating against the Corrie Bill, in 1979, they mobilized after 1981 to lessen the impact of a restrictive interpretation of the Abortion Act by the DHSS that would limit circumstances in which doctors could perform abortions.) The EOC, TUC, and women's groups have also succeeded in expanding public consciousness about such issues as positive action and "equal value" (pay equity) (Atkins and Hoggett 1984:198). In Britain the continued efforts by such activists as the women's rights officer of the NCCL (since 1975), increased strength in white-collar unions like the NUPE (where training courses and baby-sitting services have been established for working women, with a resultant increase in the number of shop stewards and TUC delegates) (Vallance 1985:30), as well as efforts at the local council level provide evidence of ongoing attempts to achieve policy change. However, whereas in both the United Kingdom and the United States it has been more difficult to secure policy implementation than the legislation itself, in the United States opportunities for intervention in bureaucratic politics are far greater.
In Britain, owing to ideological purism and localized structures, women have not developed political networks comparable to those in the United States. Institutional factors such as the growth of administrative power and executive dominance and secrecy, combined with the strength of parties and Parliament, have limited opportunities for direct intervention in policy-making and made monitoring of implementation well-nigh impossible.
The women's liberation movement's emphasis on "women-specific" issues, such as abortion, rape, and domestic violence, while of utmost importance, has sometimes obscured the significance of issues involving work and the family ("organization of daily life" issue) so crucial to change for women.
When the Conservative government came to power in 1979, the tone was one of de-legitimization of women's right to work, as exemplified by the opinions of Lord Spens who, opening a debate on unemployment, said that married women should leave paid employment to make way for men (Huws 1985:57). Shortly thereafter, this view was reinforced by Thatcher's secretary of state for social services, who contended that women should look after their children full time and that state aid be restricted to very needy cases. As noted in Chapter 1, state provision of nursery and child care has never been adequate in Britain, and when other benefits were also cut, stipends to dependent mothers and children became even more meager. These events were not greeted with any mass response by the feminist movement in Britain.
In contrast, the positive changes in laws relating to violence against women were in part a response to women's campaigns, although these were often marked by the feminist ambivalence and the inaccesibility to the political system, as discussed earlier. As van der Gaag (1985:137) has correctly pointed out, Women's Aid never perceived legislation as particularly important in altering women's position in society and in the family. Nonetheless, feminists did intervene when they pushed for the Housing (Homeless) Persons Act of 1977, which gave priority in local housing to women who fled their homes because of violence. They also campaigned
for changing the law on injunctions, discussed earlier. But there have been massive difficulties with enforcement in the face of a hostile judiciary and police force and the feminists' inability to monitor implementation (Williscroft 1985:103). Sums made available to the shelter movement by local and central government grants have been minimal, for the same reasons.
Similar difficulties have ensued with regard to the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act dealing with rape. Funding problems and failures of enforcement and interpretation remain. British feminists have concluded that the act has appreciably affected neither the way in which trials are conducted nor their reporting. Williscroft (ibid.) concludes that legislation at the local and national level has been of marginal importance. The failure of legislation to produce significant gains may result in either political quiescence or heightened cynicism regarding the political process, reinforcing the isolation of British feminists in any case.
We have argued that though the Sex Discrimination Act and the Equal Pay Act were potentially important pieces of legislation, they have not been implemented effectively enough to challenge inequality. The absence of coalitions and the failure to create a feminist infrastructure that might transcend ideological differences have been crucial. These deficiencies have to some degree been averted in the United States, where affirmative action practices are much more widely practiced than in Britain, reflecting a major difference between the American EEOC and the British EOC created by the Sex Discrimination Act (Dex and Shaw 1986:4). Affirmative action is viewed with suspicion and hostility in a Britain dominated by high unemployment and economic strain, while in the United States, women have
benefitted from more vigorous implementation of equal opportunity and affirmative action directives.
Three factors account for more effective enforcement of sex discrimination laws in the United States than in Britain or Sweden: 1) legislative and judicial commitment to the principle of affirmative action or positive discrimination, including the use of sanctions against offenders; 2) greater public acceptance of and mobilization for affirmative action principles; and 3) monitoring and intervention by a feminist network. In addition, the range of legislation that the EEOC can call on is impressive, as are the resources at its disposal, particularly in comparison with the United Kingdom and Sweden. The EEOC employs 3,100 people in a Washington office and 48 district or local offices (Grant 1984:52). It is thus far more accessible to the public than the minute British office (170 employees, primarily in Manchester, in 1984) and the even tinier Swedish version (7 employees). Federal guidelines appear to have produced significant gains in hiring and promotion in companies that do business with government, particularly if supported by vigorous organization and litigation (Law 1988:31, 33).
The American tradition of litigation for equal rights has provided a securer foundation for equality than has the British approach, even in a period of conservative rule. There has been less erosion in the U.S. public policy arena because it has been buttressed by strong public support for affirmative action (64 percent in 1984) (Hastings and Hastings 1985:541), the concept of "indirect discrimination," the ability to bring class action suits (minimizing individual costs and providing relief to large numbers), a professional feminist litigation sector, and continual feminist lobbying and networking. As Grant has found, there is extraordinary support among
American business for the practice of affirmative action, in part because this provides far more utilization of human resources and opens the workplace to new talent and ideas (Grant 1984:60). Unlike the unions in Britain and Sweden that opposed national legislation against sex discrimination and remain lukewarm toward it today, in the United States the initially hostile business community strongly supports the continuation of aggressive federal affirmative action and equal opportunity guidelines.
In particular, the employment of black women, especially in firms with federal contracts, increased significantly as a result of EEOC policies. The major impact of equal opportunity policy has been at the professional and managerial level. It is at this level, as we shall see, that American women have achieved gains that exceed those made by women in Sweden and Britain (Dex and Shaw 1986:224).
It is undeniable that because of the largesse of the Swedish welfare state, benefits to single-female heads of families, to female members of the labor force, and to their children are far superior to those offered in the United States and Britain. Over 50 percent of Swedish children were in child-care facilities funded and regulated by the government in 1980, but only 15 percent of American children were similarly advantaged in 1984 (although a large number of American women relied on private-sector group and individual day care, bringing overall coverage to about the same level) (Bianchi and Spahn 1986:230). While 40 percent of American women have maternity coverage through their employment, 76 percent of Swedish women have that benefit (through the state) (Jonung 1984:50). Generous family rent and maintenance allowances, paid parental and sick leaves,
in addition to special subsidies for single parents, have created a system that provides a far higher standard of living, without stigmatization and without long-term dependency and work disincentives, than in the United States (Kamerman 1984).
Swedish parties have proven receptive to women's sections' views on such issues as day care and leaves. but in fact the inception of many of these issues predates an active role for women's groups. Because the unions and parties sought to discourage further economic inclusion of immigrant groups, the participation of women in the labor force was encouraged in the 1960s. Policies related to women were therefore not informed by a feminist perspective, although they clearly sought to create equal opportunity for all, primarily through full employment. Both the SDP and the powerful unions, especially the LO, have opposed state intervention in order to strengthen institutional guarantees against sexual discrimination and have continued to view voluntary agreements between labor and employers as more significant than legislation. As we have noted, "equality" policies on sex discrimination and on lack of employment opportunities for women met with a tepid response from the unions and Social Democrats, so that these policies have been narrowly defined and limited to employment-related issues. Given their lukewarm attitude, there has been scant impetus to gain compliance with anti-sex discrimination efforts through the effective application of government policy since the resumption of political power by the Social Democrats and their labor allies in 1982. At present, in an atmosphere in which the dominant political view is that "equality" already exists, women's sections within the four parties that have them appear to be playing a quiescent role. Though in
the past they provided women with an opportunity to voice their special concerns, today women's sections may "ghettoize" participation and prevent fuller inclusion in decision-making.
In the main, women lack independent resources with which to seek further implementation and discussion of their concerns, including intransigent issues such as part-time work, occupational segregation, and limited mobility. We have seen that Sweden represents a society in which women have been politically incorporated without being fully mobilized; so their demands as claimants in the political system have been dealt with by the male-dominated corporatist power structure on its terms. Women, unlike men, have been unable to create a basis for organization in the labor market owing to their lesser numbers and representation and to the active discouragement of women's groups in the labor force. Nor have they effectively created independent groups related to other aspects of their lives.
Despite Sweden's official policies mandating change in men's roles as well as women's, absence from work because of child-care needs is almost exclusively restricted to women. Nearly eight out of ten men transfer their parental leave to women (mothers), and family life is organized so that women work part-time in order to care for children and home. Work, society, and politics are still organized on patriarchal lines despite the existence, of "equal opportunity" (Equality Ministry 1985:11, 79 -128; -147;83).
Policies concerning what we may call the "organization of daily life" (e.g., child care and parental leave) have proven costly and difficult to implement in the absence of a significant movement continuously advocating for them. The result: Sweden remains highly
sex-segregated in politics, work, and the home. In the absence of a feminist frame of reference, women's issues have been subsumed under "equality" and "family policy" and no longer regarded as a problem. Women-only issues involving "sexual" or "body" concerns have been belatedly recognized and incorporated into state policy mechanisms; they are treated as minor problems despite their relatively high incidence in a society viewed as violence-free. The fact that a grass-roots voluntary movement has arisen with regard to wife abuse indicates that the pervasiveness of male violence against women is a key social issue even in consensus-oriented Sweden. Similarly, the emerging differences on such issues as affirmative action for women may demonstrate increased consciousness of feminist concerns among Swedish women.
Swedish women have in fact not really left their homes; their major domestic responsibilities and very partial attachment to the labor force (to be discussed further) has resulted in the continuing primacy of traditional sex roles and society. The socialization of traditional women's roles in public-sector paid employment and the existence of benefits that help support women's part-time status may reinforce rather than change sex roles over the long run.
In examining the Swedish policy process, it seems clear that Swedish unions and parties have "literally preempted feminist demands and have put their political clout behind numerous proposals to advance equality between women and men" (Scott 1982:53). Enactment of public policy has in large measure left the unions and parties free to pursue issues of equality in the workplace and in their own decision-making bodies at their own pace and on their own terms, and issues of power
sharing and male dominance have largely been left untouched. As Verba and Orren (1985:130 -128; -147;31) point out, the SDP has worked "deliberately and successfully to make gender equality a subset of the general issue of equality and not a separate, isolated set of demands -128;¦. In Sweden, the Social Democrats -128;¦ shaped feminist demands; in the United States feminist demands transformed the Democrats."
We have indicated that the issue of wife beating and abuse, identified in the American context as the more neutral policy arena known as "domestic violence," illustrates a good deal about the nature of the American political process and the receptivity of the system to feminist issues. Although the shelter movement began in England and exists belatedly in Sweden as well, it has been most successful in a number of ways in the American setting. The creation of shelters under the aegis of feminist groups legitimized the issue as a policy agenda matter, and by 1982 there were at least 300 shelters (plus hundreds of "safe houses") in operation (Pleck 1987:199).
Coalitions were created to combat treatment of battered women in 48 states. State funds became available, largely owing to pressure from shelter staff and residents, as well as other coalition members. Federal aid was forthcoming from a variety of sources, although it was not until 1984 that federal funding ($6 million) was finally appropriated for shelter support specifically, after several years of strident attacks from the New Right, which feared what was perceived as the weakening of the nuclear family. Since 1985, Congress has appropriated additional funding for shelters, and several additional federal programs have come to the aid of victims of domestic violence. In almost every state as well, laws
have been enacted to improve reporting procedures, mandate police intervention, and establish more effective criminal court procedures (ibid., 192 -128; -147;98). As Pleck (ibid., 199) points out, the process of gaining legitimization for intervention in domestic violence meant some dilution of the original radical feminist ideas that gave rise to the shelter movement. The inclusive coalitions involved in pushing for reform were often pressed to compromise because of the broad-based nature of the movement as it developed strength. Thus, a price was paid for success in gaining funding, legislation, and new legal enforcement: feminist rhetoric and control of shelters and even the movement's direction were affected. Nonetheless, the conclusion reached in this analysis is that the new coalition spurred by autonomous feminist movements allied with legislators, the judicial enforcement process, and other activists, including the social work profession, produced gains that made domestic violence a priority issue and helped achieve significant change. Women as claimants in this policy arena have had considerable success, and the diffusion of feminist ideas into the political culture seems evident.
The reluctance of British feminists to engage the national political system on the issue of battered women provides a clear contrast. The ready co-optation by the Swedish political system of the issue, at the same time as it was placed on the policy agenda, may have muted the important process of conflict and controversy, leaving in question both the fate of the grass-roots voluntary efforts that helped raise the issue initially and the vigor of the implementation process in the absence of an autonomous feminist movement (Lundqvist 1980:196).
In the United States the existence of numerous channels to influence policythe executive, the courts, the
states, and the legislaturemay facilitate the diffusion of issues at different levels and permit pressure to initiate and enforce policy. We therefore contend that the relatively permeable American political system permits more choices than that of Britain or Sweden for change-oriented groups such as feminists and helps provide numerous reinforcements for the activity of independently organized and funded groups. Even though the policy process is characterized by incrementalism, with regard to a once "radical" issue such as wife abuse or domestic violence, it seems quite responsive to demands for change.
A final area for examination is the significance of women's increased presence in the labor force as a vehicle for personal and societal change. Two different types of public policies must be considered to understand the increased mobility of American, as opposed to Swedish, women. Policies of the first type facilitate labor force participationthese are the policies provided much more generously by the Swedish state than by the American one. Policies of the second type foster greater economic opportunity by expanding the possibilities and choices available to women. In this second arena, characterized by commitment to affirmative action and widespread feminist consciousness, the United States (and even Britain, with a longer and somewhat more meaningful commitment to equal opportunity enactments) appears to have surpassed Sweden.
In Chapter 1 it was shown that women's labor force participation in each of the three nations discussed has increased phenomenally during the post-World War II
Part-Time Employment of Women and Men
|SOURCE : Equality Ministry 1985:12.|
period and continues to grow annually in each nation. In 1983, 58 percent of British women, 61 percent of American women, and 77 percent of Swedish women were employed (Equality Ministry 1985:12). Nonetheless, although the employment of Swedish women was the highest of all three, so was the percentage of women employed part-time (see Table 15). As Erikson and Aberg (1987:9) have pointed out, "It is to part-time work in the public sector that newly employed [Swedish] women have moved. Women are overrepresented in unqualified work, have little independence at the job, and are underrepresented in supervisory positions. Both sex segregation and the ubiquitous part-time work are the reasons for their low income."
In the United Kingdom and Sweden, women are disproportionately employed by the public service sector, and there they are increasingly employed in part-time positions (Dex and Shaw 1986:122). In Sweden, 90 percent of the women who work do so in the service sector, a vast majority being employed by the government, in contrast to about 75 percent in the United States and Britain (Mailler and Ross 1987:34 -128; -147;35; Hernes 1984:32). Forty-five percent of all women were employed in the social welfare sector in Sweden, 28 percent in
the United States, and 26 percent in England. As Rein (1985:46) and others have shown, the social welfare sector is also the most highly segregated, with Sweden and Britain having the highest patterns of sex segregation (82 percent and 76 percent, respectively) and the United States the lowest (66 percent).
Occupational segregation is a problem in all three countries, but probably the greatest amount of change can be discerned in the United States, where there has been a decrease in occupational segregation and downward mobility after childbirth (Dex and Shaw 1986:80 -128; -147;107; Bianchi and Spahn 1986:182). In Sweden, especially, occupational choice has been very much an extension of the traditional role of women (i.e., child care and service roles), and sex segregation remains a persistent problem.
Another obstinate problem affecting women's role and power is that of wage differentials between men and women, in large measure a function of part-time work and occupational segregation. In Britain, women's hourly earnings were 74 percent of men's, while gross earnings were 61 percent whereas in the United States they were 83 percent and 65 percent, respectively. Among American women ages 26 to 34 this gap has narrowed to 75 percent of men's income, and for ages 20 to 24 it has narrowed even further to about 86 percent (New York Times , Feb. 6, 1987: D2; Coote and Campbell 1987:18; EOC 1983a: 89; Money , Dec. 1986:62). In Sweden, full-time female workers earned about 80 percent of male income, but because of the large part-time component of work force, total female earnings are in fact about half of men's (Eduards 1981:210).
A significant measure of the economic role of Swedish, British, and American women is the disparity between women in each country who hold managerial and
supervisory positions. Even accounting for differences in data-gathering methodology, the differences are striking. In contrast to the United States, in which over 35 percent of managers and administrators are female, the comparable numbers in the United Kingdom and Scandinavia are 18.8 and 11 -128; -147;15 percent (Davidson 1985:91). In Sweden, women occupy only 0.2 percent of the managerial positions (men occupy 7 percent), 3 percent of executive positions, and less than 1 percent of the top positions in companies and public authorities (Equality Ministry 1985:20). Four percent of the senior government executives and officials are women. In the United States the female share of executive, administrative, and managerial jobs rose from 20 percent in 1972 to 35 percent in 1985, almost doubling (Bergmann 1986:68). The United Kingdom occupies a middle position: women slightly decreased their role as managers in 1983 and now hold 17 percent of the administrative and professional positions (EOC 1983a:97). However, in the private sector in 1986, women held only 0.3 percent of the top positions in companies and only six percent of senior managerial posts (EOC 1987:2; New York Times , May 6, 1987: C1). British women hold 18.5 percent of appointments to public bodies, but are only 2 percent of the directorates of private sector firms. Only 25 women are found among the top three grades of the senior civil service (of 658) and only nine women among the boards of the hundred largest companies, while in the United States, 36 percent of corporate boardrooms had female members in 1982 (New York Times , May 6, 1987: C1; Economist , Nov. 1, 1986:58; Cooper 1985:16). Hernes (1983:17) shows that British women held from 8 to 12 percent of the country's top administrative positions, whereas in Scandinavia in general and Sweden in particular
|High-prestige professional and technical||4.8||2.3||8.5||6.2||11.1||6.7|
|Administrative and managerial||6.1||0.9||5.2||0.4||10.4||3.0|
|SOURCE : Roos 1985: Table 3.3.|
no more than 2 percent of the top managers were women.
A comparative analysis of occupational stratification of women in Britain, Sweden, and the United States suggests trends similar to those described here (see Table 16).
Although strict comparability is not possible because of the absence of incisive cross-national data, the available data reveal that "professional employment [has] widened more rapidly and significantly in the United States, as females have during the last generation made serious inroads into a wide range of professional occupations" (Mailler and Ross 1987:46). Although this quotation refers specifically only to Britain and the United States, our analysis indicates that the Swedish case may demonstrate greater resistance to women, particularly in senior administrative and managerial roles. The virtual absence of women in such positions in Sweden may be attributable to women's marginal attachment to the labor forceowing both to occupational segregation and to part-time work, which continually reinforces the role of women as responsible for the domestic sphereand Swedish cultural norms that appear to decry assertive,
individualistic women as beyond the pale of consensus politics.
The pattern of higher education in each country buttresses the economic role of women. In Sweden, although 66 percent of university graduates in 1982 -128; -147;83 were women, postgraduate work was dominated by men (Equality Ministry 1985:34). (In 1986, only 23 percent of postgraduate students were women, down from 27 percent in 1982.) The proportion of female university students is largest in the United States, and they now reap more than half of the bachelor's and master's degrees and one-third of the doctoral degrees awarded (New York Times , Feb. 6, 1987: D2). In the more elitist British educational system, 5 percent of women held bachelor's or advanced degrees, whereas in the United States the number was 20 percent (Dex and Shaw 1986:34).
Women in all three countries have greatly improved their representation in medicine. (Is it perceived as an extension of the "caring" role?) The high number of Swedish female dentists (34 percent) is particularly notable (Statistical Abstract 1987). However, in the United States, 11 percent of engineers are women, in the United Kingdom only 3 percent, while in Sweden women hold about 5 percent of construction-related positions (a category including architects and engineers) (ibid.; Tomes 1985:77). Only 10 percent of American women planned to major in education in 1985; business was now the most popular undergraduate major for both men and women. The proportion of M.B.A.'s awarded to women rose from 3 percent in 1965 to 30 percent in 1986 (Bianchi and Spahn 1986:119). American women have made particular strides in the field of law, where they earned 38 percent of degrees awarded, up from 15 percent
in 1975 (New York Times , Feb. 6, 1987: D2). In Britain, 11 percent of the barristers in 1983 were women (a number that rose to 17 percent toward the end of the decade) and 14 percent of the solicitors (Williscroft 1985:100). In Sweden, about 11 percent of lawyers and jurists are women (Statistical Abstract 1987); in the United States, almost 20 percent.
American women compose 27 percent of university faculties and about 12 percent of all professors; in Britain, female professors number less than 4 percent (Economist , Aug. 23, 1986:14; "Equality Between Men and Women" 1987). In 1982, 5 percent of Swedish women were professors (Chronicle of Higher Education , Sept. 10, 1986:26; Tomes 1985:74).
The contrast between the growing economic and professional gains of American women and to a lesser degree, their British sisters, seems to highlight continued inequities in Sweden. While as many Swedish women as men interviewed by a survey said they would like to be promoted, only 5 percent thought they would be (Equality Ministry 1985:20). Through the division of labor, then, Swedish "men are able to preserve a dominant, superior position. Men still occupy practically all positions conferring power and influence in society -128;¦. Women do not compete with men because they live on different terms" (ibid., 79).
In this analysis we have argued that structural factors, including political, cultural, and economic constraints, narrow the possibilities for women to become policy claimants. We have marshaled evidence to demonstrate the importance of women articulating on behalf of their
own interests and own concerns, contending that the "strident" tones of women's liberation decried by some are a necessary, if not sufficient, condition for societal change (Hewlett 1986:166).
A causal relationship between movement politics, policy enactments, and the growth of a professionally active group of women with economic and political potential is not fully demonstrable, but it is evident that the American feminist movement has had a profound impact on changing expectations and possibilities. In 1984, 49 percent of the women surveyed by Ms magazine (July 1984:54) indicated that they would continue to work even if they did not have to do so for economic reasons, while 57 percent indicated that they felt the "women's movement has just begun." The evidence of the continued vigor of the American feminist movement seems fairly conclusive, suggesting that reports of its demise are premature and unfounded.
This analysis has stressed the significance of several major factors that appear to limit the role of British feminists: the closed and inflexible nature of British government, particularly the administrative process; the reluctance of key institutions such as parties and unions to go beyond rhetoric in meaningfully sharing power; and the localized, purist nature of the women's liberation movement, which has failed to create coalitions and an enduring national presence. In Sweden, the anomaly of progressive policies pertaining to women, despite the lack of an independent, feminist movement, has resulted in a set of political contradictions. Not withstanding the greater hospitableness of the Swedish party system in particular to pressure, in practice the system permits little ideological or political space for nonproducer groups. Issues drawn from the feminist
agenda have found their way into the public policy arena and have profoundly influenced expectations, particularly regarding women's role as labor force participants. But in the absence of an autonomous independent movement that could structure dialogue on its own terms, much of the policy enacted appears to have had little impact on gender-based roles. The continued existence of a huge part-time female work force, the extraordinarily high degree of labor force segregation based on sex, and the apparent persistence of traditional sex roles imply that the general labor force policy that benefits women is not enough.
This analysis has sought to demonstrate the interaction between the "political opportunity structures" and mobilization by feminist social movements. In turn, the product of this interaction has affected the success of feminist claims and the degree of social change possible in each nation. Although the concept of success utilized here has emphasized policy outcomes, it has not neglected other manifestations, such as movement survival, changes in individual consciousness, and diffusion of group values. The results of these developments include acceptance of the group as a legitimate political organization, with ensuing gains for its members.
We have argued that policy impact may often rely on implementation efforts by a coalition of feminists and their political allies, and that the efforts may best succeed if these feminists are members of autonomous groupings that enjoy access to the political process, as is the case in the United States. American feminists also seem to have achieved the most public support for movement goals and ideals, now broadly diffused throughout the culture. With regard to individual consciousness, we contend that feminist ideology has had a profound impact
on women in all three nations, although it has sprung from different sources. In the context of its self-defined goals British nondirected "liberationist" movement politics is remarkable for its continued vigor and survival. In his analysis of social movements and policy change, Tarrow (1983:8) has observed that "the range and flexibility of its tactical repertory is often a good predictor of movement success." We have contended that the American movement has enjoyed the greatest autonomy in choice of tactics because it has been unconstrained by the necessity to work through the intermediation of existing groups, such as parties and unions. This freedom has permitted the use of a variety of tactics from protest to participation in existing power groupings. British feminist participation has been constrained by the rigidity of the political system and the ambivalence of movement activists about engaging in national politics in a coordinated fashion. Swedish women have, in the main, been limited to behaving as participants in existing institutions.
In all three nations, the relatively unstable nature of traditional electoral coalitions and the declining relationship between unions and the working class have produced new opportunities for women as potential recruits and bases of strength. In Sweden and the United States, these new opportunities appear to have produced the most responsiveness to new policies for women, although they have created different results. The crucial factor appears to be the greater availability of allies or coalition partners in these two countries. In the United States in the last two decades, relationships have been cemented between feminists, other like-minded groups, and the Democratic Party, while in Sweden electoral instability
created new opportunities for political access for women, particularly in the 1970s.
As Tarrow (ibid., 45) puts it, political "reforms may be more reversible when they are substantive only, creating no new vested rights of participation or veto in the population groups newly enjoying them." This hypothesis argues, then, for the idea that reforms producing institutionalized participation may be the most significant of all, largely because they help create resources for future mobilization and ensure continued attention to substantive policy concerns. Seen from this perspective, the American movement, now recognized as a legitimate group in the pluralist system, may be in the strongest position to endure as a significant political force.
From the examination of substantive policy gains, this analysis has found that Americans have achieved the most in expanding economic opportunities, while the Swedes have been most successful in creating a support structure that facilitates female labor force participation. Substantive rights, such as access to equal employment, are, as we have seen, limited by support from government and willingness to use sanctions, the sympathetic response of the public and political allies, and continued intervention by an activist feminist policy network. Legislation, it appears, is not enough, as it is necessary to have continued access to the implementation process in order to consolidate policy gains and achieve further political success. In the final analysis, all three nations demonstrate the limitations of their "political opportunity structure" as it affects the role of women. In the case of Sweden, gender-neutral policies
have not yet been able to encompass the special needs and experiences of women and liberate them from their traditional roles. And, in the United States and in Britain despite the strength of the independent feminist tradition that has acted from a collective position in the name of collective goals, individual women have been forced to struggle with family responsibilities still squarely rooted in the private sphere.