Sociology Index


Suffrage is the right to vote in political matters; the franchise. Suffragists were early members of the women's movements who protested in order to win women the vote. Suffrage is the civil right to vote, or the exercise of that right. It is also called political franchise.

Universal suffrage

Universal suffrage is where the right to vote is not restricted by race, gender, belief or social status. Universal suffrage does not extend a right to vote to all residents of a region; distinctions are frequently made in regard to citizenship, age, and occasionally mental capacity or criminal convictions. Finland was the first European country to grant universal suffrage to its citizens in its 1906 elections, and the first country in the world to make every citizen eligible to run for parliament.

Compulsory suffrage

Compulsory suffrage is a system where those who are eligible to vote are required by law to do so.

Women's suffrage

The goal of the suffragists and the "Suffragettes" was the right of women to vote on the same terms as men. The first country to give women the vote in national elections was the Isle of Man in 1881. The first major country to give women the vote in national elections was New Zealand in 1893. The women's suffrage movement in the United States was launched with the opening of the Seneca Falls Convention, July 14 to 20 in 1848, which sought to gain certain rights and privileges for women, notably the right to vote.

Books on Womens Suffrage

Women's Suffrage in America by Elizabeth Frost-Knappman and Kathryn Cullen-Dupont From School Library Journal.

The Concise History of Woman Suffrage: Selections from History of Woman Suffrage, by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage, and the National American Woman Suffrage Association. 

Manhood suffrage
Unless disqualified by mental illness or criminal conviction, manhood suffrage is the right of adult men of all classes, ethnicities, races, and religions to vote.

Equal suffrage
Equal suffrage is often confused with Universal suffrage, although its meaning is the removal of graded votes, where a voter could possess a number of votes in accordance with income, wealth or social status.

Census suffrage
Census suffrage is the opposite of Equal suffrage, meaning that the votes cast by those eligible to vote are not equal, but are weighed differently according to the person's rank in the census. The suffrage may therefore be limited, usually to the propertied classes, but can still be universal, including, for instance, women or ethnic minorities, if they meet the census.

The Look Within: Property, Capacity, and Suffrage in Nineteenth-Century America
Jacob Katz Cogan, University of Cincinnati - College of Law, Yale Law Journal, Vol. 107, 1997
Abstract: Wishing to see the trajectory of American history as progressive and democratic, historians have ignored the complexities of suffrage expansion in the nineteenth century - especially the interrelation of exclusion and inclusion. This Note looks at the trajectory of suffrage reform from the late eighteenth century to the adoption of the Fifteenth Amendment and argues that reformers were obsessed with the inner qualities of persons. Whereas the eighteenth century had located a person's capacity for political participation externally, the nineteenth century found these qualities internally. Both enfranchisement and disenfranchisement reflected this change of perspective, this look within.

Suffrage and Virginia Woolf: ‘The Mass Behind the Single Voice’
Sowon S. Park.
Virginia Woolf is now widely accepted as a ‘mother’ through whom twenty-first-century feminists think back, but she was ambivalent towards the suffragette movement. By moving away from Woolf in suffrage to suffrage in Woolf, this article argues that her work was in fact deeply rooted at the intellectual centre of the suffrage movement. Through an examination of the ideas expressed in A Room of One's Own and Three Guineas and of two suffrage characters, Mary Datchet in Night and Day and Rose Pargiter in The Years, it establishes how Woolf's feminist ideas were informed by suffrage politics, and illuminates connections and allegiances as well as highlighting her passionate resistance to a certain kind of feminism.

From Women's Suffrage to Reproduction Rights? Cross-national Considerations
Francisco O. Ramirez, Elizabeth H. McEneaney.
While women's suffrage has become completely institutionalized around the world, liberalized abortion is one indicator of the status of women that remains contested. Moreover, abortion rights differ fundamentally from women's suffrage in that they are not derivative of rights originally extended to men. In this article, we summarize and compare the results of prior studies that assess the effects of independence era, international linkages, modernization, state activism, and status of women on the rate of the adoption of women's suffrage and reproduction rights.

The Way We Vote: The Local Dimension of American Suffrage by Alec C. Ewald. A must read for students of American elections and election law. --Rick Hasen, Loyola Law School, author of The Supreme Court and Election Law To a degree unique among democracies, the United States has always placed responsibility for running national elections in the hands of county, city, and town officials. Legal materials, statutes and Congressional debates, state constitutional-convention proceedings, and the records of contested Congressional elections illuminate a long record of federal and state intervention in American electoral mechanics. Lawmakers have always understood that a certain level of disorder characterizes U.S. national elections, and have responded by exercising their authority over suffrage practices, but only in limited ways, effectively helping to construct our triply-governed electoral system.

The Trial of Democracy: Black Suffrage and Northern Republicans, 1860-1910 (Studies in the Legal History of the South). The Trial of Democracy: Black Suffrage and Northern Republicans, 1860-1910 (Studies in the Legal History of the South) by Wang Xi (Hardcover - Jun 1997) Following the Civil War, Republicans teamed with activist African Americans to protect black voting rights through constitutional reform. This work looks at the forces and mechanisms which led to black suffrage, and follows the issues into the early 20th century.