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The Politics of Child Sexual Abuse is the first study of activism against child sexual abuse, tracing its emergence in feminist anti-rape efforts, its development into mainstream self-help, and its entry into mass media and public policy. Nancy Whittier deftly charts the development of the movement's "therapeutic politics," demonstrating that activists viewed tactics for changing emotions and one's sense of self as necessary for widespread social change and combined them with efforts to change institutions and the state. Though activism originated with feminists, the movement grew and spread to include the goals of non-feminist survivors, opponents, therapists, law enforcement, and elected officials. In the process, the movement both succeeded beyond its wildest dreams and saw its agenda transformed in ways that were sometimes unrecognizable. A moving account, The Politics of Child Sexual Abuse draws powerful lessons about the transformative potential of therapeutic politics, their connection to institutions, and the processes of incomplete social change that characterize American politics today. Nancy Whittier is Professor of Sociology at Smith College. She is the author of Feminist Generations and co-editor of Feminist Frontiers and Social Movements: Identity, Culture, and the State.
Product Details

Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION; CONCLUSION; REFERENCES

About the Author

Nancy Whittier is Professor of Sociology at Smith College. She is the author of Feminist Generations and co-editor of Feminist Frontiers and Social Movements: Identity, Culture, and the State.

Reviews

Nancy Whittier has given us a powerful account of how the movement against child sexual abuse has unfolded over the past 40 years. Knowing our history-recording and preserving it-is essential if we are to learn from it. The Politics of Child Sexual Abuse is the story of how activists have changed their own lives and the larger world. At a time when public discourse often simplifies or dismisses this movement, Whittier tells our history in a way that advances deep understanding of the issue. * Ellen Bass, co-author of The Courage to Heal * The Politics of Child Sexual Abuse is an ambitious book that demonstrates the payoff of theoretical synthesis and careful empirical research. Whittier integrates the latest advances in thinking about social movements, the state, and gender politics in order to develop a comprehensive and compelling account of activism around child sexual abuse. This book will challenge analysts to rethink the intersection of politics, culture, and activism, as well as the relationship between social movements and their impacts. * Debra Minkoff, Professor of Sociology, Barnard College, Columbia University * Relying on interviews with a range of activists, along with documentary evidence of various types, Nancy Whittier provides a convincing explanation for the transformation of child sexual abuse in America since 1970. An engaging and balanced examination of this highly charged topic, The Politics of Child Sexual Abuse skillfully negotiates treacherous terrain in a fashion that respects all sides. This book is a highly original work and one of the best studies of child sexual abuse in the last twenty-five years. * Ross E. Cheit, Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, Brown University * In a single book, Nancy Whittier overturns all conventional wisdom about why sexual abuse became such a contentious public issue. Battles over incest, repressed memory, and clergy abuse are not moral panics, she shows, but a collective therapeutic activism that challenges existing forms of knowledge and control. The Politics of Child Sexual Abuse sets out a bold, new direction that is essential reading for all scholars of political culture and social movements. * Kathleen Blee, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, University of Pittsburgh * The Politics of Child Sexual Abuse offers a significant contribution to understanding the ongoing public issue of sexual abuse that will be of interest to a wide readership, and particularly to scholars of political culture, gender and sexuality, and social movement theory. * American Journal of Sociology *

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