Women's Political Voice: How Women Are Transforming the Practice and Study of Politics

Women's Political Voice: How Women Are Transforming the Practice and Study of Politics

Women's Political Voice: How Women Are Transforming the Practice and Study of Politics

Women's Political Voice: How Women Are Transforming the Practice and Study of Politics

Synopsis

Since the 1960's, academic and activist women have been challenging the conventional wisdom about political life and the study of politics. This book provides a comprehensive critical history of the changing research on politics and the changing nature of the political science discipline. It analyzes the course of women's political activism in US.

Excerpt

Why did political scientists fail to see the political significance of the women's movement? Possibly it was because until the 1970s, almost all political scientists were men who considered their politics more interesting and important than those of women. To take nineteenth-century politics as an example, men found nation-building, war, and diplomacy more interesting than the suffrage, temperance, and settlement house movements. Scholarly interest in women's politics grew as the number of women in the discipline increased. But the absence of women was only part of the explanation. Many female political scientists found that when they tried to understand the political significance of the women's movement, the discipline's tools were flawed in three important ways: epistemologically, methodologically, and empirically.

Conventional political science epistemology posits objective observers who study atomistic, autonomous individuals; feminists posit gendered observers of socially interdependent people. It uses neutral categories in value-free research to construct universal theories; feminists use socially constructed categories in value-encoded research to construct socially contingent theories. Conventional political scientists seek explanations; feminists, understanding and interpretation. the conventional approach tacitly assumes that the male is normative; feminists uncover this tacit assumption. Conventional political scientists think quantitative methods and survey research techniques that impose concepts and meanings on respondents are adequate to the task of cap-

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