Mapping the Trajectory of the Australian Women's Movement
The first component includes the major task of developing an event data-base for the women's movement over 35 years. Event research has been a staple of social movement research in the USA and has been conducted in Australia by Sean Scalmer (2002) for the period 1965–71. The proposed coding frame will include actor(s), numbers, type of action, space of action, date, demand, and object of demand. Reliability of coding will be tested at the start of the project. The Women's Electoral Lobby history media database with its 3000 items will also need recoding for purposes of this project.
The event database will use the Sydney Morning Herald as a starting point to identify events to be coded, despite the problems identified by Scalmer and others in using mainstream media to map social movement events. The reason for including a newspaper as a proxy for mainstream media coverage is the hypothesis that media visibility is a crucial ingredient in social movement policy influence. From 1985 Lexis-Nexis and/or Factiva will also be used. While this is not a media study, media coverage is one important indicator of political salience.
The event data base will also use movement publications to ensure more comprehensive mapping. These will include Me Jane, WEL-Informed, radical newspapers such as Tribune and Green Left Weekly and calendars of women's events produced by women's information services. These will be supplemented by case studies of annual events such as International Women's Day (IWD) and Reclaim the Night, and the changing nature of participation and repertoires. For example, it will explore the trajectory of IWD from concerts and luncheons to large-scale protest marches back to breakfasts, lunches and celebratory events. The IWD case study will draw for the earlier period on Stevens (1985) and the three Union of Australian Women histories and for the later period on the IWD events website established in 1996.
The first iteration of the database can be viewed as a spreadsheet. This is a work-in-progress, but we plan to make the finalised database, with entries cross-matched, available as a resource for other researchers.
Kirsty McLaren is the member of the project team with responsibility for developing the event database.
Where does this fit in the project as a whole? See Project Structure
Scalmer, Sean (2002). Dissent Events: Protest, the Media and the Political Gimmick in Australia. UNSW Press.
Stevens, Joyce (1985). A History of International Women's Day. Sydney: IWD Press.