Politics and Feminism

Research on politics, political activities and power relations of various kinds have for long been central to feminist research. Understandings of what politics is, how it works and where it takes place have never been static or unified across academic communities engaging with the study of politics, be that political science itself, the many sub-disciplines studying politics (e.g. political geography, political history, political sociology), or the growing number of interdisciplinary studies of politics and the political. Since the late 1960s, many and diverse feminist and pro-feminist movements within and outside Academia have been actively contributing to this large, heterogeneous and contested research field. Questions and answers about the nature of politics and the political have been much on the move and, since the 1980s, in a certain direction. As compared with various, old and new modes of linking, some even reducing politics to economic matters, the debates about modernity/postmodernity and the many turns (linguistic, cultural and others) issued in these debates, conceptions of politics and the political rooted in philosophy and/or cultural theory now stand out strongly. In gender studies and feminist theory, the move towards philosophical and cultural approaches to studying politics is rather strong. At the same time a relative under-attention to political institutions, even a turn away from empirically oriented political theories and analytical frameworks aimed to investigate institutionalized power and political processes that constitute multi-level state-society relationships (political systems), can be noted.

Current scholarly debates about politics and the political should be seen in relation to many interlocking, conflicted processes of ongoing, global and local social changes, such as: more or less dramatic political system shifts (from the 1980s onwards); structural changes, tensions, and crises in the world economy; intensified conflicts over and politicization of sexuality, love and all kinds of biopower; and heightened political temperature in many cultural activities and discursive movements in the world of ideas and ideals, symbols and values. In all of these domains of social life, various forms of ongoing power struggles, through collective activities, social movements and interest articulation, can be seen throughout the world.

The objective of this field is to promote an inclusive view of feminist research interests in the study of politics; of the many sites and forms of political power, of policy-making and policy implementation in political systems and the various forms taken by activities and struggles aiming for realizing gender equality and other feminist values.

  • Feminist Politics and Gender Equality Policy: The Representation of Interests and Inequalities

    Strand chair: Sofia Strid

    The strand analyses and compares gender equality policy and policymaking processes in the EU. It takes into account both content, i.e. the policy outcome, and form, i.e. the policy process. The latter deals with the way in which (organised) interests, in particular those based on gender, class, ethnicity, functionality, and sexual orientation, are both and sometimes simultaneously, opposed and obstructed and provided with opportunities for visibility and representation. To understand the oppositional dynamics to gender equality, the analytical difference between structural inequalities in societies and political projects that engage with them (to obstruct/oppose or to provide opportunities) are considered to be related but never conflated: the mere existence of social inequalities does not ‘cause’ equality policies Methodologically, the strand builds on policy analysis, critical frame analysis, voice analysis and a meta-policy approach to policy analysis. Various projects explore the implications of the visibility or silencing of interests for gender equality and for feminist theory. They ask how the silencing of some groups and interests constitutes a form of opposition to gender equality.

    On-going projects: Doing Intersectionality in Gender Equality Policy  (DIG-EP) (Strid, Verloo, Lombardo, Augustin, Popa, Krizsán, Armstrong, Altunok), Opposition Against Gender Equality (Verloo)

    Key researchers: Sofia Strid (Örebro University, Sweden), Mieke Verloo (Radboud University, The Netherlands), Emanuela Lombardo (Madrid Complutense University, Spain), Lise Rolandsen-Augustin (Aalborg University, Denmark), Andrea Krizsán (Central European University, Hungary), Raluca Popa (Central European University, Hungary and Council of Europe, France), Gülbanu Altunok (Brown University, USA)

    Relevant publications

    This strand also relates to GEXcel research field, Intersectionality in Culture and Society

  • Feminist Politics and the (Re)structuring of European Equality Architectures (FEMITURES)

    Strand chair: Sofia Strid

    FEMITURES analyses the on-going restructuring of the European equality architecture, at state and EU levels, and its implication for the theory and practice of feminist politics. It is a broad, empirically oriented, research area cutting across disciplinary boundaries, including but not limited to gender studies, politics, sociology, economics and law. It investigates equality, institutions and political processes. Feminist politics is confronted and challenged by the restructuring of European equality architectures both theoretically and empirically. It is confronted by restructured institutional and ideological (e.g. neoliberal) conditions for policymaking and challenged by theoretical developments related to intersectionality and diversity. The concept of the equality architecture draws on a long tradition within the social and political sciences describing and conceptualising the various political (governmental/non-governmental) institutions that regulate (by promoting or obstructing) equality. It is not limited to institutions regulating gender inequalities but include institutions regulating e.g. class relations. FEMITURES examines how the challenges of intersectionality are reflected and dealt with “on the ground”, in practical equality architectures on national and European levels. It takes the merger of various European equality institutions as case studies and analyses the implications of the mergers for the theory and practice of feminist politics.

    On-going projects: Sofia Strid & Liisa Husu: The Gender Equality Architecture in Finland and Sweden, Kristina Lindholm (PI): Gender mainstreaming as innovation in public organisations, (Vinnova)

    Key researchers: Sofia Strid (Örebro University, Sweden), Liisa Husu (Örebro University, Sweden), Anne Charlott Callerstig (Örebro University, Sweden), Kristina Lindholm (Örebro University, Sweden), Jo Armstrong (Lancaster University, UK), Reneé Andersson (Örebro University, Sweden)

    Relevant publications

    This strand also relates to GEXcel research field, Gender and Organisations

  • Gender in/and the Public Sphere: Discourses, Imaginaries and Practices

    Strand chair: Natalia Krzyzanowska

    This strand looks at the discursive construction and renegotiation of gender in contemporary European public spheres. The focus is on ‘abstract’ public spheres (constructed by media and other forms of articulation of gender-related practices) as well as public (e.g. urban) spaces that nest re/constructions of gender in material practices. The strand covers such topics as (i) feminist and critical art within public spaces (e.g. anti-monuments in local/national politics of memory), (ii) politics and imaginaries of gender-specific love- and care-related practices (esp. in media and politics) or (iii) comparative research on normative discourses on gender contract (e.g. parenthood roles) in the public-sphere. Three central dimensions cut across all of the foci. First, the research focuses on discourse as a form of articulation, communication and re/negotiation of visions/conceptions and imaginaries of gender. Secondly, it takes into consideration socio-political as well as politico-economic ontology of the studied processes and looks at how these dimensions are central in driving dynamics of gender-related perceptions of social class, parenthood, critical art, and political activity. Finally, the research considers political implications of the studied practices and looks at their both public/ private and policy dimensions. 

    On-going projects:

    Commodification of Motherhood: A Feminist Social research Perspective (Postdoctoral Project, Center for Feminist Social Research, Örebro University)
    Discursive construction of motherhood within Polish public sphere after 1989 (National Canter for Science)
    Public Communication in Poland. Inter- and multidisciplinary approach (National Program of Development for the Humanities)
    Research and Study Program “The Narrative Study of Lives” (Postdoctoral Project, Department: Sociology, University of the Free State)

    Key researchers:Natalia Krzyzanowska (Örebro University, Sweden), Ewa Glapka (University of the Free State Bloemfontein, South Africa)

    Relevant publications

    This strand also relates to GEXcel research field, Love Studies and Feminism