Empowering women: the role of emancipative beliefs

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In cross-national research, few studies analyse the influence of subjective beliefs on women’s empowerment, and when they do, they treat subjective beliefs as an alternative explanation that rivals the influence of objective opportunities, such as the rise of knowledge societies. Under the theory of ‘belief-mediated social change’, we disagree with this approach and hypothesize that subjective beliefs do not rival but ‘mediate’ the influence of objective opportunities on women’s empowerment. Analysing the empowerment of women over various domains, we find that the objective opportunities linked to the rise of knowledge societies advance women’s empowerment, but only insofar as these opportunities engender a subjective belief in women’s empowerment and other emancipative goals. This finding establishes a better understanding of the interplay between objective opportunities and subjective beliefs in advancing women’s empowerment
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Sociological Review
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)364-384
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 06.2011