We demonstrate that an important outcome of social movements is public opinion change, particularly in the case of the U.S. women's movement. We argue that contentious events associated with the women's movement provide informational cues that prime the public. This process then leads to changes in attitudes regarding gender. We use quarterly time series data on contentious events of the U.S. women's movement ranging from 1960 to 1992 and public opinion about gender attitudes in the United States to examine whether public opinion moves in response to social movement events. Using an error correction model, we demonstrate that social movement events have a significant effect on gender attitudes. Citizens adopt more liberal gender attitudes as the U.S. women's movement increases its activity. These results suggest that social movement scholars should be paying more attention to public opinion when assessing the outcomes of social movements.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sociology and Political Science