The Violence Against Women Act and Citizenship

26 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2011

See all articles by Olivia García

Olivia García

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Political Science


This paper explains how the Violence Against Women Act came to be and what this pivotal piece of legislation tell us about gender, politics and their complexities. There are three primary questions I am answering in this analysis: 1) how did the issue of domestic violence transform from a private concern to a public and national issue? 2) Was the policy a result of top down or bottom up advocacy and how does this fit within social movement literature? The last question refers to the patriarchal nature of the law. 3) Is the VAWA patriarchal as a result of the advocacy, and if so, what implications does the patriarchal nature say to the individuals this law is attempting to help? I will answer the above questions by analyzing Congressional committee documents, using political theory and interviewing individuals involved in making the VAWA a law. I argue that in transforming the issue of domestic violence from a private issue to a national public concern, a social movement took place. This social movement was simultaneously a top down and bottom up advocacy approach. Lastly, although the VAWA is a pro-women law, its underlying patriarchy can be limiting to those it seeks to help. On the national scope, this law has been the first step in eradicating domestic violence; however are its limits greater than its benefits? This study contributes to the broader understanding of how minority groups can enter into the realm of the public sphere.

Suggested Citation

García, Olivia, The Violence Against Women Act and Citizenship. Western Political Science Association 2011 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN: or

Olivia García (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Political Science ( email )

4289 Bunche Hall
Box 951472
Los Ángeles, CA 90095
United States

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