Recent research reveals that the mobilization, leadership patterns, and strategies of social movements are organized by gender in previously unrecognized ways. Scholars have had less to say about the consequences of social movements for the reconstruction of gender relations in American society. Using data from two women's self-help movements, we outline a framework for analyzing the impact of social movements on the transformation of gender. Drawing from Judith Lorber's concept of gender as a social institution, our analysis demonstrates that women's self-help movements disrupt gender practices, deconstruct gendered hierarchy, and dismantle gendered structures. Our comparative study illustrates that in order fully to understand the impact of social movements on the gender order, we must look for evidence of changes in the process, stratification system, and structure of gender. We conclude by arguing that the postpartum support group and breast cancer movements highlight the significance of social movements as collective actors involved in the reconstruction of gender.

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