Gender and Mobilization in War

El Salvador. 1980s.  Thousands of Salvadoran women participate in the highly masculine act of guerrilla warfare, yet never question the patriarchal gender roles dominant in their home communities.  Why? When does gender-bending activism create feminist identity changes, and when does it maintain—or even reinforce—the status quo?  In answering this question, Viterna develops a new, identity-based theory of micro-level mobilization that allows scholars to explain variation across activists.  She also demonstrates how radical groups use traditional gender discourses to soften their public image and increase their group’s appeal to bystanders, but at the cost of reinforcing inequitable gender norms and practices.

Related Publications:

2013. Women in War: The Micro-processes of Mobilization in El Salvador. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. 

2014. "La historia de dos mujeres que participaron en la guerra salvadoreña." El Faro Académico, 3 de marzo.

2014. "Mujeres en la guerra: Quiénes ganan, quiénes pierden." El Faro Académico, 24 de febrero.

2014. "Radical or Righteous? Using Gender to Shape Public Perceptions of Political Violence." In: Dynamics of Political Violence: A Process-Oriented Perspective on Radicalization and the Escalation of Political Conflict (Bosi, Demetriou, and Malthaner editors). Surrey, UK: Ashgate Publishing, pp. 189-216.

2009. Silber, Irina Carlota and Viterna, Jocelyn.  “Women in El Salvador: Continuing the Struggle.”  Pp. 329-351 in Women and Politics around the World: A Comparative History and Survey, edited by Joyce Gelb and Marian Lief Palley.  ABC-CLIO.

2006. "Pulled, Pushed, and Persuaded: Explaining Women’s Mobilization into the Salvadoran Guerrilla Army." American Journal of Sociology, 112(1):1-45.