Becoming the feminist subject. Consciousness-raising groups in second wave feminism
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This dissertation uses consciousness-raising groups in order to reinterpret the early years of the second wave of the feminist movement. It studies the functions of c-r groups between 1967 and 1975 in radical and liberal women's groups as well as early Black and Chicana feminist organizations. The data for this dissertation was collected from published and unpublished primary sources on the second wave and oral history interview with former participants in c-r groups. I study c-r groups against the background of the therapeutic culture that expanded in postwar years in the United States, discussing how feminists criticized it yet creatively used its arguments. There was a complex relation between common experiences and difference in c-r groups, which shaped the participation in the women's movement and contributed to creating multiple sites for its emergence. In the personal narratives of former participants, c-r groups function as a radical redefinition of their gender identity. Finally, c-r groups were instrumental in the production and circulation of feminist knowledge, most often under the form of collectively signed position papers and anthologies. C-r groups offered a historically unique way of connecting the personal and the political, the private and the public sphere, women's experiences and feminist politics.