Women and the Social Movements of the 1960s: Activists, Engaged Observers, and Nonparticipants



Many women in the generation that attended college during the 1960s have reported that they were influenced by the social movements of that era, even women who did not participate in them. In addition to political activists, social movements also appear to include “engaged observers”—individuals who are attentive to movement writings and activities, and express moral and even financial support for them, but who take no other action. Although activism in a movement may be the best predictor of future political action, engaged observation may be related to other indicators of political socialization, such as a powerful felt impact of the movement and well-developed political attitudes. Evidence to support this notion is drawn from studies of three samples of college-educated white and black women.