Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=582001
 
 

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The Universal Childcare Debate: Rights Mobilization, Social Policy, and the Dynamics of Feminist Activism, 1966-1974


Deborah Dinner


Washington University in Saint Louis - School of Law

June 27, 2010

Law and History Review, Vol. 28, No. 3, August 2010

Abstract:     
In specific historical circumstances, popular rights consciousness can challenge power hierarchies by fostering the imagination of transformed social structures as well as coalitions reflecting these alternate political realities. During the late 1960s through the decade’s turn, the right to universal childcare echoed as a political demand across diverse strands of the feminist movement. By translating personal needs into a rights claim, feminists politicized the issue of childcare in ways that challenged cultural constructions of the boundaries between the family, market, and state. The language of rights enabled activists to articulate the place of childcare in their visions for women’s liberation, African American freedom, and a just economy. Despite the tensions in their aspirations, the universal character of the rights claim enabled middle-class and working-class, white and African American, liberal and radical women to build coalitions on the basis of common policy interests. President Nixon’s veto of the Comprehensive Child Development Act of 1971, however, exploited class-based fault lines in the childcare coalition. In this changed political context, feminist mobilization for the right to universal childcare waned. By uncovering the overlooked story of feminist thought and grassroots activism respecting childcare, this essay shows that childcare once held far more robust and radical political meanings than it does today.

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Date posted: June 28, 2010 ; Last revised: March 14, 2011

Suggested Citation

Dinner, Deborah, The Universal Childcare Debate: Rights Mobilization, Social Policy, and the Dynamics of Feminist Activism, 1966-1974 (June 27, 2010). Law and History Review, Vol. 28, No. 3, August 2010. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=582001 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.582001

Contact Information

Deborah Dinner (Contact Author)
Washington University in Saint Louis - School of Law ( email )
Campus Box 1120
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States
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