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Fleecing the science of love : William Proxmire, Elaine Hatfield, and the politics of gender in the 1970s

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Title:Fleecing the science of love : William Proxmire, Elaine Hatfield, and the politics of gender in the 1970s
Authors:Martin, Richard John
Keywords:gender studies
history of psychology studies
William Proxmire
Elaine Hatfield
Golden Fleece Award
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Date Issued:Dec 2012
Publisher:[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [December 2012]
Abstract:In March 1975, Wisconsin Senator William Proxmire awarded his first Golden Fleece Award to Elaine Hatfield and Ellen Berscheid because the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded them $84,000 to study love research. Carried on monthly for fifteen straight years, the Golden Fleece Award became synonymous with government waste, amusing scientific research, and outlandish public works projects. The Golden Fleece Award impacted how the NSF reviewed projects, allocated funding, and publicized research.
Chapter one provides a historiographical review of the 1970s and focuses on social tensions, especially those between men and women. Largely the product of activism by the women's movement, issues previously limited to the personal sphere such as reproductive agency, domestic violence, and a lack of educational and employment opportunities for women became part of the mainstream political discussion.
Biographical accounts of William Proxmire and Elaine Hatfield from primary sources comprise chapters two and three. The final two chapters look at four daily newspapers, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Capital Times (Madison, WI), and the Chicago Tribune, in order to provide a more nuanced understanding of the daily news coverage of the mid-1970s. These close readings address how issues about relationships between men and women were a constant feature and informed the public debate surrounding the first Golden Fleece Award.
The overarching argument of this work is that the dramatic economic, political, and social changes of the 1970s were regularly interpreted through the lens of men and women's relationships. Disputes between men and women--personal and professional--were a constant theme of newspaper coverage in the mid-1970s. There was a palpable tension between men and women's public, private, and political relationships that informed how news was selected and presented to the public. This dynamic informed the cultural debate over the first Golden Fleece Award.
The conclusion addresses the long-term impact of the Golden Fleece Award on the careers of Elaine Hatfield and William Proxmire and discusses public funding of scientific research.
Description:Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2012.
Includes bibliographical references.
Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - History
Ph.D. - History

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