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Gendering the Study of Politics: Theory and Practice

Course Code: PUBLG068

Course Tutor: Dr Maki Kimura (Department of Political Science)

Assessment: 1,000 word exercise (30%) + 2,000 word essay (70%)

Credit Value: 15

About this course

The course provides an overview of some key topics in politics and gender. In weeks one and two, the history of feminism and main feminism and gender theories (including those on sexuality, intersectionality, and masculinities/masculinism) are explored. The rest of the first part of the course looks at the impact of gender on ‘political’ activities and the concepts and practices of citizenship. It considers what constitutes ‘political’ activities, whether the gender of our political representatives matters, how we might ensure that political institutions are gender balanced and how to develop gender sensitive public policies. The second part of the course has a more international focus considering the concept of security, transnational migration, the impact of gender in armed conflict, women's rights and human rights, and the importance of gender in international development. We will also look at gender ‘policy machinery’, such as specialist government departments and quangos concerned with gender and equality, at both the national and international level. Various case studies are used to examine the ways that gender is constructed by and constructs political practices. As women are often the underrepresented sex in a variety of political processes, we will therefore often discuss the issue of women’s equality. However, throughout the course we will seek to focus on ‘gender’ rather than on ‘women’ and explore how various differences such as gender, class, ethnicity, nationality and sexuality intersect to create inequalities. Different materials (newspaper articles, radio programmes, films etc.) will be used in the course to facilitate discussion on current issues in gender and politics. Each class has a lecture followed by a seminar and participation in discussion is required.

By the end of the course the students will:

  • be familiar with some of the basic theories and policy questions around politics and gender;
  • be able to critically assess the arguments for and against greater gender equality in different political institutions, and the mechanisms for achieving this;
  • have a sound understanding of the role of gender in civil society and political participation;
  • understand some of the key issues regarding gender in international relations, particularly with respect to development and to conflict;
  • have been exposed to the arguments of key commentators on each of the above points;
  • have studied in depth at least two questions in politics and gender, and been able to communicate these through essays and/or presentations.

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