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Gender as a Mediator of the Activist Experience: The Case of Freedom Summer

Doug McAdam
American Journal of Sociology
Vol. 97, No. 5 (Mar., 1992), pp. 1211-1240
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2781414
Page Count: 30
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Gender as a Mediator of the Activist Experience: The Case of Freedom Summer
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Abstract

Using data on 330 applicants to the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer project, the author seeks to assess the effect of gender on all phases of the activist process. The results indicate that gender powerfully influenced the dynamics of recruitment to the project, experiences during the summer, the long-term political effects that followed from participation in the campaign, and the subjects' owm assessment of the projects' impact on their lives. Interestingly, the behavioral effects of the project are greatest for the male volunteers. But it is the female volunteers who attribute the greatest personal significance to the project. It is suggested that this seeming paradox can be explained by two factors: (1) the more extensive histories of activism the female volunteers brought to the project and (2) the significance assigned to the project in feminist accounts of the origins of the women's liberation movement.

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