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Movement Institutions: The Bureaucratic Sources of Feminist Protest

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 September 2018

Laure Bereni
Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), France
Anne Revillard
Sciences Po, France


Over the past several decades, scholarship on women's movements, feminism, and the state has brought renewed attention to the study of protest politics by questioning its frontier with dominant institutions. This article takes this critique a step further by considering the institutional dimension of the state-movement intersection. Drawing on the French case, we argue that institutions that are formally devoted to women's rights inside the state (women's policy agencies) can operate as movement institutions—that is, as bureaucratic instances routinely engrained with a protest dimension—rather than being only a shelter for a network of insider activists. As such, they can provide a specific, institutional feminist socialization to their members; they can purvey, rather than only relay, feminist protest, and they can deploy institutional repertoires of protest, combining bureaucratic and movement dimensions. We conclude that the definition and boundaries of the women's movement need to be broadened to include bureaucratic sources of feminist protest.

Research Article
Copyright © The Women and Politics Research Section of the American Political Science Association 2018 

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We wish to thank Mary Katzenstein and Amy Mazur for their most useful comments on earlier versions of this article, as well as the anonymous reviewers at Politics & Gender and the European Journal of Politics and Gender. This work is supported by a public grant overseen by the French National Research Agency (ANR) as part of the “Investissements d'Avenir” program LIEPP (reference: ANR-11-LABX-0091, ANR-11-IDEX-0005-02).



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