State of Struggle
Feminism and Politics in Alberta
Alberta’s Conservative governments have employed several strategies to resist feminist claims for women?s equality, from stonewalling during the 1970?s oil boom, to grudging initiatives during the subsequent bust. Recently?under the guise of deficit reduction?Alberta has adopted a neoliberal ideology that seeks to shrink the province?s role as a guarantor of equality. Lois Harder has written the definitive study of the modern evolution of politics in Alberta as seen through the lens of women?s political struggles.
"State of Struggle is a fascinating study of feminist 'claimsmaking' in Alberta. Lois Harder traces a rich history of women's organizing in Alberta, combined with a sharp analysis of the contemporary political context. Using an impressive range of sources-academic, government, women's organizations, and news media-with archival and interview research, Harder addresses many gaps in Canadian political science. ..[Harder's book] provokes the asking of vital questions, and makes a valuable contribution to political science in a wide range of areas including: Canadian politics, provincial politics, political economy, public policy and administration and women and politics. " Tammy Findlay, Canadian Journal of Political Science, vol. 38, no. 2, 2005.
"This book explores the negative effect on women of the mega majority governments of Lougheed, Getty and Klein. It describes the resistance of these oil financed governments to women's struggle for equality. An interesting chapter is entitled Oil, Sex and Power. Alberta women have done not too badly in this hostile climate and this text could be a useful template in all provinces. " Ronald F. MacIsaac, The Barrister
"Overall, for those committed to human rights struggles, Harder's study is grim reading. But it is also an important contribution to a critical understanding of Alberta's place in the national and international movement for human rights. It is curious that as we approach our provincial centenary, we seem to move further and further away from the progressive political culture that made Alberta a model of social experimentation during its formative years. .. Harder's study is a must-read for anyone interested in the state of human rights in Alberta. " Catherine Cavanaugh, Legacy, Winter, 2003
". ..State of Struggle makes an important contribution both to our understanding of Alberta politics and to knowledge of feminist organizing in Canada. In terms of the former, Harder's conceptualization of state forms is an important corrective to the notion of the Alberta provincial government as Conservative hegemon. Like any other state, its permeability changes with changing social, economic, and political conditions. In terms of the latter, Harder's careful history of feminist organizing in the province is a model for the kinds of provincial-level studies that are necessary to understanding the diversity of feminism in our highly decentralized federation. It is required reading for anyone with an interest in political economy or provincial politics. " University of Toronto Quarterly, Vol. 74, No. 1, Winter 2004/5
"As a critique of one major aspect of political and social life in Canada's only real "have" province, this volume should be of considerable interest both to those advancing the feminist cause and to Western Canadian political junkies. " W. J.C. Cherwinski, Canadian Book Review Annual, 2004.
"[Harder's book] examines the ways in which Alberta women's groups tried, with mixed results, to influence provincial policy on "women's issues" in the 1970s, '80s and '90s. Harder sees a definite trajectory in the province's response to feminist claims. . Harder's book is a grim reminder of the human cost of neo-liberal ideology. " Alex Rettie, AlbertaViews
"This work examines four periods of feminist claims-making strategies and provincial governmental resistance in Alberta. .Harder provides a useful analysis of feminist strategies under difficult conditions. Recommended. " J. G. Everett, University of Colorado at Denver, CHOICE: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries
"This book presents a comprehensive account of feminist activism in Alberta from 1970 to the late 1990s. Actually, Harder prefers the term 'claimsmaking' to describe the activity of making claims on public policy and institutional structure. The provincial focus is welcome because so much has been written about the National Action Committee on the Status of Women (NAC) and its struggles with Ottawa. After all, the provinces have jurisdiction over the actual implementation of policies that matter to women. " Louise Carbert, Atlantis Journal, January 30, 2005
". ..the book is a vital reminder that if it weren't for the activism of feminists, our society would not be nearly as comfortable a place as it is today. " Lorraine Turchansky, The Edmonton Journal