Full Text

Feminism, First, Second, and Third Waves

Jo Reger

Subject Gender Studies
Sociology » Sociology of Sex, Gender, and Sexuality

Key-Topics feminism

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


The women's movement in the United States is generally broken into waves of protest, each set in different time periods with diverse tactics, ideologies, and goals. The waves are divided into a first wave, starting in the 1840s; a second wave, beginning in the late 1960s; and the third wave, emerging in the mid-1990s. Although most scholars and historians use the analytical device of waves to discuss the movement, a variety of debates have arisen around the concept, with some arguing that the wave model ignores some forms of collective action and groups. Despite debates on the occurrence of waves within the movement, it is clear that in the United States, the women's movement shaped society, politically and culturally. As the result of campaigns addressing citizenship, suffrage, civil rights, and reproductive rights, US citizens live in a society where women are free to vote, own property, retain custody of their children, divorce and marry at will, work in traditionally male occupations, and obtain legal abortions. Beyond changes to the legislative and economic systems, feminist ideas have been incorporated into the mainstream. Ideas of feminine/female strength, independence, and free will are now a part of the cultural norms about women. To understand why US women's activism is considered a movement, it is important to consider its characteristics. The US women's movement is enduring, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

Log In

You are not currently logged-in to Blackwell Reference Online

If your institution has a subscription, you can log in here:


     Forgotten your password?

Find out how to subscribe.

Your library does not have access to this title. Please contact your librarian to arrange access.

[ access key 0 : accessibility information including access key list ] [ access key 1 : home page ] [ access key 2 : skip navigation ] [ access key 6 : help ] [ access key 9 : contact us ] [ access key 0 : accessibility statement ]

Blackwell Publishing Home Page

Blackwell Reference Online ® is a Blackwell Publishing Inc. registered trademark
Technology partner: Semantico Ltd.

Blackwell Publishing and its licensors hold the copyright in all material held in Blackwell Reference Online. No material may be resold or published elsewhere without Blackwell Publishing's written consent, save as authorised by a licence with Blackwell Publishing or to the extent required by the applicable law.

Back to Top