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Deeds and Words Deeds and Words
Gendering Politics after Joni Lovenduski
Rosie  Campbell (Editor)
Sarah  Childs (Editor)
£52.00 / €71.20
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Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781907301520
Page Extent: 288 pp

Table of Contents:  View (pdf)
Sample Pages:  View (pdf)


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About the Book

How does feminism shake up political science, the study of politics and electoral politics? What difference do feminist political scientists and politicians make to political institutions, policy processes and outcomes? The scholarship and activism of pioneering feminist political scientist Professor Joni Lovenduski helped establish these questions on the political science agenda.

This book addresses key themes in Lovenduski’s seminal work. State-of-the-art chapters by leading scholars cover gender and parties; elected institutions and the state; quotas and recruitment; public opinion and women’s interests. Vignettes by prominent politicians and practitioners, including Dame Anne Begg MP, Baroness Gould, Deborah Mattinson, and the Rt Hon Theresa May, bring the academic analysis to life.

Deeds and Words reveals the impact of feminist interventions on politics in the round. Its groundbreaking assessment of feminist scholarship and politics offers an appraisal of, and fitting tribute to, Lovenduski’s own contribution to gender studies and feminist politics.

'Deeds and Words shows how feminist scholarship has exposed the gender underpinnings of electoral and political institutions – and how it has helped change political science, and politics itself. This well-conceived volume does full justice to the work of renowned scholar Joni Lovenduski, a pioneer in studying women and politics, whose career has been devoted to understanding and promoting the issues and reforms these essays examine.'
Susan J Carroll, Rutgers University

'This fine book traces the evolution of gendered analyses of politics, captures the latest advances in the field, and links the expanding research agenda to the continuing challenges of gendering political life. It is a major contribution.'
Anne Phillips, London School of Economics and Political Science

'For this volume, top-notch scholars and leading practitioners reflect carefully on feminist scholarship in politics and political science, in recognition of Professor Joni Lovenduski, whose seminal work laid the foundations for comparative gender politics. A book that will stay within quick reach on my bookshelf.'
Miki Caul Kittilson, Arizona State University

'This book is tangible evidence of Joni Lovenduski’s powerful impact on the development of gender and politics scholarship. Deeds and Words is not only a heartwarming testament to an outstanding scholar who proved that scientific excellence and social engagement go hand in hand; it will also prove an enduring reference for the topics and issues it addresses.'
Petra Meier, University of Antwerp

'This volume is an impressive tribute to the significance and influence of the scholarship and feminist politics of Professor Joni Lovenduski. It also demonstrates how far feminist political science has come theoretically and empirically within the UK, and globally, under Lovenduski's scrupulous and generous guidance. Edited by two of Lovenduski’s protégées, this work brings together a range of experts, from the academy and the real world of politics, each of whom traverses the intellectual development and practical implications of the subfield’s strands across time and space. The chapters reveal a diverse, compelling and growing body of feminist scholarship that has continuously challenged traditional disciplinary concepts (power, the state, representation), the nature of institutions and interests, and methodological choice, demanding these incorporate a consideration of gender and feminism in all their complexity. The result is a rich and valuable tapestry of what has come to constitute feminist political science, and reflecting Lovenduski’s foundational contribution. Deeds and Words represents an important source of what now must constitute a core subfield of political science.'
Jennifer Curtin, University of Auckland

Review by Elin Bjarnegård in the journal European Political Science (Palgrave), published 5 June 2015

Deeds and Words: Gendering Politics after Joni Lovenduski is a Festschrift in honour of Joni Lovenduski’s pioneering work in the field of gender and politics. It is a fine tribute to an influential scholar, who has greatly contributed to the growth, consolidation and direction of this sub-discipline. As emphasized in its title, the book also seeks to link the words of feminist scholars to deeds and actual feminist policy influence, in the spirit of Lovenduski’s own engagement with practical politics. The book addresses key themes in Lovenduski’s seminal work in a series of chapters written by leading scholars coupled with vignettes written by practitioners and politicians.

The themes addressed span the wide field of gender and politics scholarship in the United Kingdom and beyond. Broad chapters such as Vicky Randall’s account of the long project of gendering political science and Yvonne Galligan’s systematic review of the comparative study of politics and gender in political behaviour, institutional approaches and policy analyses provide overviews of the development of the field across time and space. The more focussed contributions, such as Meryl Kenny’s chapter on political recruitment, Pippa Norris and Mona Lena Krook’s on electoral gender quotas, and Peter Allen, Rosie Campbell and Ana Espírito- Santo’s chapter on women’s political interests demonstrate more concretely the theoretical and empirical advances, and challenges that the field is presently preoccupied with. The vignettes accompanying these more focussed chapters illustrate the real world politics of the issues at hand and provide relevant illustrations of the academic puzzles. They are particularly useful when they explicitly comment on, or use the same language as, the preceding chapter. This is the case in Dame Anne Begg’s account of her personal experiences being recruited to an All-Woman shortlist, which she frames in the terms ‘supply and demand’ also used to structure Kenny’s chapter (and, indeed, the literature on recruitment more broadly). The editors of the book, Rosie Campbell and Sarah Childs, who look upon Lovenduski as an important mentor and dear friend, add a personal touch to the introduction and conclusion. The result as a whole is a book that is a rare presentation of not just research, but of the development of a research field, complete with the engagement and struggles it entails – but also shedding light on the important friendships and networks that form part of any long-term research endeavour. As such, it is a true guidebook to the field of gender and politics.

The link between deeds and words is an inspiring and refreshing look at what academia can accomplish in real world politics, and perhaps the most important contribution of the book. It is particularly successful when it is also integrated into the scholarly chapters. Two chapters stand out here: the chapter on the words and deeds of RNGS by Amy E. Mazur and Dorothy G. McBride, and the chapter on the critical mass theory in public and scholarly debates by Drude Dahlerup. Mazur and McBride present the work, methods and findings of the Research Network on Gender, Politics and the State (RNGS). They also explicitly link these findings to concrete policy influence of different kinds: recommendations for a stronger women’s policy agency presence in the US federal government presented to the Obama administration; participation in writing reports from a UN Expert Group Meeting on ‘Equal Participation of Women and Men in Decision-making Processes’; and the development of a pamphlet on how to make gender equality mechansims work, targeting women’s policy agency staff (to name a few). Dahlerup’s contribution points to the complexity of the interaction between scholarly words and practical deeds.While the scholarly discussion about the need for a ‘critical mass’ in women’s representation has primarily aimed to highlight the conditions that women often face when they enter male-dominated environments in small numbers, the concept of ‘critical mass’ has had a life of its own among practitioners. Quota advocates around the world have frequently claimed that research has shown that at least 30 per cent women in parliament is needed for women to be able to make a difference. Despite the fact that research on the critical mass has been misinterpreted, it has been a very useful practical tool, leading to a large number of countries adopting quotas and passing the 30 per cent threshold. Ironically, because it has already been used to influence policy, researchers can finally start testing the critical mass hypothesis.

The advances of the field are, as they should be, at the forefront of this book. Such a summary of the progress of a research field is also an opportunity for identifying challenges. The highlighted need for interaction between research and practice remains a constant challenge and motivator for feminist researchers. Another challenge, where perhaps less has been accomplished, is the bridging between gendered political science and ‘mainstream’ political science. The growth and expansion of the field of gender and politics is impressive and it is by now a strong and vibrant sub-field of political science. Many contributors, however, highlight the fact that the bridge to mainstream political science is still too much of a one-way street. Feminist scholarship builds on challenging traditional concepts and findings in political science. The chapters about political institutions (Fiona Mackay), political parties (Sarah Childs and Rainbow Murray) and policy (Joyce Outshoorn and Jennifer Rubin) clearly show how gendered research builds on existing mainstream research, demonstrating that what has been presented as a general theory has in fact been based on a male norm. Political institutions, formal and informal, have gendered cultures with different consequences for men and women. Despite this fact, a large part of mainstream political scientists are yet to be convinced that explicit and thorough gender analyses are needed for political research to be relevant.

The challenge for the field of gender and politics, having now established itself as an important field of research in its own right, is now to reach out beyond its own tightly knit network to other sub-disciplines. This challenge, too, is in line with Lovenduski’s idea as cited on Page 87: ‘Finally, I am once again to draw attention of political scientists to the importance of gender to the study of politics. I hope this intervention will not only inform and extend discussion of the methods that best achieve equality of women’s representation and provides research for its advocates, but also add to the pressure to incorporate gender into the mainstream of political science’.

Review in the LSE Review of Books by Muireann O'Dwyer, published December 2014

'Though it is a collection of essays from some of the leading scholars from feminist political science, Deeds and Words is more than a review of the field. While it does indeed offer an excellent overview of the key contributions to feminist political science, and would therefore be a useful read for any students of gender and politics, there are two core arguments present in this volume that make it much more than a textbook. Firstly it shows the need for interaction between research and activism, and secondly it demonstrates the continuing need for the process of bringing gender into the political science mainstream. It is fitting then, that the collection aims to celebrate Joni Lovenduski, a feminist political scientist who contributed so much to those two aims.

In their chapter on “Gender and Political Institutions”, Fiona Mackay, Faith Armitage and Rosa Malley discuss the interaction between feminist political science and new institutionalism. This chapter highlights the potential for developing a distinctively feminist institutionalism – a way of exploring, explaining and testing the gendered nature of institutions, or the “rules of the game”. Feminist institutionalism incorporates study of both formal rules and structures and the informal side of institutions. It shows how both aspects of institutions can be gendered, whether that means rules which exclude or inhibit women’s participation, or informal expectations of behaviour that are built on gendered assumptions. This chapter offers two highly illustrative examples of the feminist institutionalist approach: Armitage’s work on the Office of the Speaker in Westminster and Malley’s comparative study of inclusion at Westminister and the Scottish Parliament. These cases highlight how the application of a gender lens can deepen understandings of the functioning of critical political institutions. As this chapter argues, the feminist institutional approach is one of great potential for feminist political scientists seeking to explore the expressions of power both within and on behalf of political institutions.

Among Lovenduski’s many contributions is her work in the establishment of the Research Network on Gender, Politics and the State – the RNGS. Amy G. Mazur and Dorothy E. McBride discuss this work in their chapter of the same name. This project draws upon many of the approaches within feminist political science, including feminist institutionalism, gender and comparative politics, state feminism and gender and representation. The project is characterised by rigorous empirical work, combining methods both qualitative and quantitative, as well as a commitment to translating the findings from such work into practical, and usable information that can influence policy, activism and politics. The RNGS project produced several influential reports and briefing papers, including a “User’s Guide” for the implementation of gender equality mechanisms which contains concrete advice for the adoption of best practice in this area. The project has also been truly global, with research and dissemination crossing national boundaries, and engaging with national, supranational and international actors. As such, the project exemplifies some of the finest characteristics of Lovenduski’s career – a focus on collaboration, consistent engagement with activism, as well as a commitment to the highest standards of research.

One of the innovations of this book is the inclusion of several “vignettes” – short pieces contributed by policy makers, activists and politicians. These vignettes were contributed by women working within politics – women such as Conservative Party MP Theresa May, Baroness Howe, Labour Party MP Dame Anne Begg and policy activists such as Mary-Ann Stephenson. Stephenson’s vignette discusses her work with the Fawcett society. This is a story that illustrates the need for engagement between feminist political scientists and activists, with each informing and supporting the work of the other. The Fawcett Society relied on empirical work on women’s voting behaviour in order to advance its claims in mainstream political contestation. In particular, it was the work of feminist activists, key amongst them Lovenduski herself, which informed the campaign to make all women shortlists a legal reality. In another vignette, Baroness Howe brings her experience of working with many public bodies, including the Equal Opportunities Commission. By drawing on her extensive experience in public life, Baroness Howe is able to highlight several key moments where feminist research was combined with activism and an opportunity for change to advance anti-discrimination laws.

These vignettes transform the call for interaction between activism and the academy from rhetoric into reality, and offer inspiring examples of where such collaboration generated meaningful change. They offer a strong reminder that research can have profound, and if utilised correctly, hugely beneficial impacts in the real life practice of politics. It is this understanding of the work of feminist political scientists as comprising more than words, but deeds also, that runs through this book, and makes it so much more than a review of an academic field – it transforms into a call to action for feminists within and outside of the academy. It would have been easy for a book of this type to amount to little more than a celebration. Celebration of Joni Lovenduski’s work is certainly appropriate and deserved, and it is important to recognise how far feminist political science has come in recent decades. But there is a real danger of the project of reviewing the development of the field to encourage complacency. In an era where gender is present as a variable in most political research, and grant applications often require a gender statement as standard, it can be all too tempting to believe that political science has been sufficiently gendered. This book takes care, however, to point out that the work is not nearly finished. The various chapters point out potential avenues for future work, as well as highlighting continued gaps and areas of gender blindness. Further, to look back over the work of recent decades should serve as inspiration to keep working, rather than to sit back. To see the influence that feminist political science has had is to see the influence it can have in the future. In the end, there can be no more fitting tribute to Joni Lovenduski’s work and career than to continue this work.'


  Pub Date:

September 2014


Peter  Allen (Contributor)
Faith  Armitage (Contributor)
Drude  Dahlerup (Contributor)
Ana  Espírito-Santo (Contributor)
Yvonne  Galligan (Contributor)
Meryl  Kenny (Contributor)
Mona Lena  Krook (Contributor)
Fiona  Mackay (Contributor)
Rosa  Malley (Contributor)
Amy  Mazur (Contributor)
Dorothy  McBride (Contributor)
Rainbow  Murray (Contributor)
Pippa  Norris (Contributor)
Joyce  Outshoorn (Contributor)
Vicky  Randall (Contributor)
Jennifer  Rubin (Contributor)


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