Graduation Year

Spring 2014

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environmental Analysis

Reader 1

Matthew Delmont

Reader 2

Tamara Venit-Shelton

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© 2014 Emma Foehringer Merchant


Since the 1960s, the modern environmental movement, though generally liberal in nature, has historically excluded a variety of serious and influential groups. This thesis concentrates on the movement of working-class housewives who emerged into popular American consciousness in the seventies and eighties with their increasingly radical campaigns against toxic contamination in their respective communities. These women represent a group who exhibited the convergence of cultural influences where domesticity and environmentalism met in the middle of American society, and the increasing focus on public health in the environmental movement framed the fight undertaken by women who identified as “housewives.” These women, in their use of both traditional female stereotypes as well as radical influences from other social movements, synthesized their own unique type of activism, which has had a profound influence on the environmental movement and public health in the United States, especially in its relation to environmental justice.