Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Political Science


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Brian Tanguay

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


The Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport (CAAWS) is a non-profit feminist advocacy organization established to work towards enhancing the position of women and girls in sport in Canada. Imbedded in a sport system which reflects societal values, CAAWS has undertaken activities to eliminate gender inequity, such as lack of acknowledgment, inadequate financial support and limited opportunities for participation, in Canadian sport. This study has addressed the question of whether or not CAAWS has been coopted as a result of its relationship with the federal government agencies responsible for sport in Canada (i.e., Sport Canada and Sport Canada's Women's Program), as well as with the Secretary of State‘s Women's Program. In the process of examining this relationship, consideration was given to CAAWS as a hybrid organization, combining elements of a feminist organization and an interest group. This evaluation was based on a review of literature related to interest groups and feminist organizations. The question of the impact of government funding on this group was also studied. Consideration was given to how this funding can change an organization. This analysis drew on literature related to government and interest group relations. In analyzing the consequences of the relationship between CAAWS and Sport Canada and Sport Canada’s Women’s Program, a conceptual model of cooptation was utilized which allowed this researcher to consider all questions related to the process of cooptation, such as the conditions and/ or (actors at work, the types of tactics used, the forms of control exercised and the consequences of these actions. This model was developed based on the literature. The analysis found that CAAWS has not been coopted as a result of its relationship with these government agencies. None the less the outcome of this group's relationship with Sport Canada‘s Women’s Program and, to a lesser degree, the Women's Program of the Secretary of State has resulted in: 1) constrained advocacy; 2) alteration of the organizational structure; 3) a shift from a collectivist group to a more institutionalized form; 4) a change in objectives; 5) financial insecurity, and, 6) undermined organizational autonomy. These consequences have come about as a result of internal conflicts and organizational decisions regarding group priorities. External influences from government, such as the provision of financial support, have intensified some of the internal strife, but are not solely responsible for the changes in the organization. These changes have come about as a result of numerous internal and external factors.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season