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After Suffrage

 

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After Suffrage

Winner of the 1997 American Political Science Association Schuck Award for best book on Women and Politics

After Suffrage

Women in Partisan and Electoral Politics before the New Deal
KRISTI ANDERSEN

It is widely believed that the influence of reform-minded women declined after the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920 granted women the right to vote. After some early victories, it seemed that women increasingly either stayed home or voted as their husbands did. Certainly, women did not vote as a cohesive group. And policy changes advocated by women and women's groups often failed to be enacted.

    Kristi Andersen's revisionist account offers a richer and more nuanced analysis of women's political participation between the period of Progressive reform and the advent of the New Deal. In successive chapters on women as voters, as party activists, and as candidates and officeholders, she shows how the direct experience of women in politics during the 1920s undermined the notion that women could (or should) have only an indirect relationship to public discourse and decision making. Increasing participation in conventional politics both changed the perceptions of women and changed perceptions of politics. Andersen argues that women's prior exclusion from electoral politics and their extensive work in voluntarist organizations created a distinct political style and culture; when American politics opened up to include women, it also absorbed aspects of their political culture. The social welfare concerns brought by women into politics renegotiated the conception of "the political." More concretely, women's presence and success as party officials and candidates-even if only at county and local levels-paved the way for wider political participation at the state and national levels later.

    "Andersen's lucid and insightful book is a valuable addition to the literature on women's rights in general and the relationship between political rights, political participation, and policy outcomes in particular. It addresses a key dimension cutting through many subfields in political science-how the entry of new groups into the electorate in the twentieth century contributes to a complex configuration of political change that transforms nineteenth century partisan politics into contemporary nonpartisan politics."-Eileen L. McDonagh, Northeastern University

    "Andersen sets out to counter the long-standing conventional wisdom that in the 1920s there was a collapse of the female energy. . . . Well-researched, cogently organized, and vigorously argued. Especially impressive is the judicious parsing of the relationship between the decline in rates of voting and woman suffrage ' -Glenna Matthews, Journal of American History

Acknowledgments:

1:Suffrage and political Change 5:Women as Candidates and Office Holders
2:Expanding Women's Citizenship in the 1920's 6:Women and Electoral Politics After Suffrage
3:Women as Voters
4:Women in Party Politics

Kristi Andersen is a proffesor of political science at Syracuse University.


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