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Title: Whose Modernity? Revolution and the Rights of Woman
Authors: Tudor, Carissa Leanne
Advisors: Yashar, Deborah J.
Contributors: Politics Department
Keywords: Civil Law
Women's Rights
Subjects: Political science
Gender studies
European studies
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Did Western modernity—the economic, political, and social developments featuring political liberalism and industrial capitalism, along with new modes of thinking and communicating that emerged around the 19th century—make society more equal? Which aspects of the modern transformation encouraged shifts in (in)equality, and along which social dimensions did they do so? This dissertation seeks to provide nuanced answers to these questions with a focus on women's rights across a nearly five-hundred-year period that is punctuated in the middle by modern institutional change, most notably democratization and private law reform. How do these moments of institutional change alter women's rights to participate in politics, engage in economic activities, and act autonomously? This project combines qualitative and quantitative analyses to argue that modern institutional development marked a decline in women's rights. It presents a sobering origin story of a distinctively modern form of gender inequality and a cautionary tale of the fragility of rights. It reverses popular progressive narratives about women's rights, demonstrating with extensive archival records that some women in early modern France possessed and exercised rights to participate in politics, to own and control property, and to engage in economic activities. Counterintuitively, it was liberal reforms in the late 18th and early 19th centuries—most notably those brought by the 1789 French Revolution, which were marked by a process of institutional rationalization—that curtailed women's access to the public sphere, especially their ability to participate in politics. The effects of these reforms persisted for well over a century and influenced many women inside and outside of France.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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