Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

David Cotter




visual, feminism, best, century


This thesis explores the role that visual signs and signifiers played in the resource mobilization of feminism in the United States during the twentieth century. Visual cultures are important sociological characteristics of a society by creating a symbolism that is specific to a time and place. First, social movement theory is described and how it is related to a culture’s visual expression. Next, these theories are applied to each of the three “waves” of feminism that occurred during the twentieth century, as well as an explanation of the trajectory of each wave. To supplement the investigation into each wave are three case studies: images that best encompass the visual culture of a given wave, and serve to give comprehension of horizontal evolution. Finally, a discussion on the similarities and difference of each wave concerning their ideologies, mobilization techniques, and outcomes, and how the visual culture that comes out of these three aspects correlate to each. It was found that the symbols used during each wave were unique in order to best reach their target audience. These symbols were generated out of the ideology, and could also attract or alienate potential activists depending on their level of inclusivity. Lastly, the level of inclusivity tended to correlate to the success of that particular wave of feminism.