“Piecemeal” Advocacy, Radical Accomplishments: Adding Normatizing to the Advocacy Toolbox

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Journal of Policy Practice and Research


Sociology & Criminal Justice Studies


Women’s rights advocates in Iowa successfully got state laws adopted in the late 1980s and in 2009 requiring gender balance on state and local boards and commissions, the only such laws in the USA. Through interview and archival methods, this paper uses a critical juncture framework to unveil how this was accomplished in part through a strategy underexplored in academic and practitioner literature—deradicalizing an issue through a series of “piecemeal” efforts. Small less controversial changes can build up to alter the status quo, making room for changes previously thought unaccomplishable. This study brings normatizing—the process of incrementally institutionalizing new norms—forward as a socialization strategy for social movement actors to intentionally consider employing in situations they encounter where political will on an issue is substantially lacking.