Gender and Politics

For a long time, women were absent not only in state organizations but also in political studies. Only by the 1970s, comparative politics was impacted by the feminist critique and scholars included gender issues into some of their recent studies. In 1969, the Women’s Caucus for Political Science provided mentoring to women willing to enter the political science. By the 21st century, women became an important part of comparative political studies. Political representation, feminist comparative policy, welfare state, state feminism, and women’s movements became the key topics concerning females in political science.

In the past decade, studies on the representation of women in politics became more complex. Scholars examined factors that impaired governmental participation of women and compared conditions across the US, Canada, Latin America, Europe, and some industrialized states of Africa and Asia. They found religious and cultural factors greatly restrain women from legislative participation in many countries.

In the 1990s, scholars introduced the notion of inequality gender regimes that ingrained steadfast gender roles into society. They fostered inequality in organizations and unevenly redistributed welfare benefits. The male breadwinner model remains to be the most common gender regime even though it has weakened in many countries by now.

As women created women’s policy mechanisms to promote their policy issues, the topic of state feminism came into view. Numerous studies concluded that the success of women’s policy mechanisms depended on the economic, social, and political environment. External factors and the strength of women’s mobilization gave them a way into policy-making even though it was not typical for former patriarchal societies.

The rise of women-friendly politics in Europe and Latin America occurred due to the women’s mobilization and activism of the past century. Women succeeded in promoting the issues of unequal representation and gender inequality not only in politics but also in the workplace and in the household. Today the research goes on as women’s movements continue to influence politics and other spheres.

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Social Movements

Though social movements are not as vivid today as they were in the 20th century, their impact on politics still sparks the interest of scholars and challenges the political elite. Civil rights demonstrations, feminist manifestations, and the advent of green organizations were vivid examples of social movements. They empowered individuals excluded from policy-making so that they could express their point through demonstrations, strikes, newsletters etc. Participation in social movement does not equal institutionalized political participation, but still, it represents the political reaction of citizens and gives the way to democracy.

Since the early 20th century, the approach to social movements has changed. Back then, social movements were a form of collective behavior, and the approach involved psychology in the research. Today we view movements as a form of social participation in politics. In the 1970s, the resource mobilization theory also suggested that social movements happened as participants evaluated their investment of time and energy and decided that the movement is worth its outcomes. At the same time, a strain theory became popular in Europe. It argued that movements do not only show a social dysfunction but also give ideas to their solution.

Current research and further study of social movements is relevant to show the social change. Unlike in the 1970s, participants of movements are mobilized by mass media and new communication technology today diminishing the role of organizations in strikes. Social movements give politicians an opportunity to keep in touch with social changes and pressing problems, like global justice, environmental degradation, and sustainable development. We also agree that a full political participation is essential to every democracy, and social movements are its essential part.

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Ethnic and Identity Politics

By ethnicity we commonly understand a community with a shared language and culture. Once it was common to make up ethnic groups on the basis of their race but only until German sociologist Max Weber claimed that ethnicity is an artificially constructed category. People united into ethnic groups according to shared beliefs or common qualities. These are not only subjective phenomena like culture but also objective ones, such as a language and descent.

Being a group-based social identity, ethnicity might shape our political attitude and behavior. Ethnic identity is born through social change and stimulates it as we participate in policy-making. In former Communist societies, different ethnic groups lived under the same political rule. After the break down of the Soviet Union, many national and ethnic groups separated and formed their own societies with a different political system than that of the Soviet Union. New ethnic identities formed after World War II. Japanese Americans, for example, are neither entirely Americans, nor Japanese. Their identity is unique and differs from the two initial identities that formed it.

Ethnicity is relevant to political science because it affects voting. Many scholars are worried that elections in ethnically diversified societies may create fraud and conflict. Thus voters participate in politics not to strengthen stability but to struggle for political dominance. Ethnic groups also tend to separate from the bigger societies where they are only minorities. Sooner or later, they divide and create their own democracy to protect and strengthen.

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Religion and Comparative Politics

It seems that religion shall have no impact on political life. These are just different domains that cannot be mixed together. Nevertheless, the recent research shows that Christianity greatly modifies political choices in the US. Most Middle East societies have a religious system of government by default, and the holy scriptures directly affect political decision-making there. The bond between politics and religion does not seem to break off, not even in the digital age.

Anthropological studies partially explain why religion became an essential domain for early humans. But still, they hesitate about why religion is worth so much in the present-day political environment. Most scholars believed that technological advancement and capitalization will push away the domain of religion that dominated in earlier, more primitive societies. Max Weber in his work The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism expressed that one day religion will be marginalized despite its wast impact. In 1969, Peter L. Berger pushed forwards the secularization theory claiming that religion would be destroyed as a political force by scientific development and bureaucracy. The theory was criticized, although no one has succeeded in developing a more relevant theory explaining the bond between politics and religion. Connections can only be found if we discover the political system of every particular nation and analyze to which extent it is influenced by religion.

The further research in comparative politics impacted by religion is crucial to understanding both of them. A better realization of how religion works in societies most affected by it may help to democratize societies by means of religion. Ultimately, it can draw closer societies separated by critical religious variations.

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Political Culture

By political culture we understand the political attitude of the population and its manifestation. Scientifically, political culture is referred only to attitudes of people, but in fact, people express this attitude through their behavior and response to political events. Within the democratic political system, individuals view themselves as political subjects that play some role in the policy-making. Under such conditions, political interest and knowledge trigger political participation.

Scientific research on political culture is not extensive yet, and we pay most attention to the works of Gabriel Almond, Sidney Verba, and Robert Putnam. Besides the scholastic approach to political culture, its elements have been studied through the empirical research. These studies pay closer attention to key components of political culture. It includes political efficacy, political trust, political interest and knowledge, and political participation.

Political efficacy works when people feel empowered by their political system. If citizens realize that their opinion matters, they feel free to participate in the decision-making. Internal political efficacy means that the individual can understand what is going on in politics. External political efficacy is up to officials entitled to respond to the political expression of citizens. Political trust is the support that citizens express towards their politicians. It is also important that people trusted their institutions. If politicians can be easily replaced, the institutions will remain such as prescribed by the political system.

Citizens cannot participate in policy-making unless they get interested in the political development. Political interest and knowledge strongly depend on the level of education. Political participation is the main manifestation of the political culture as individuals vote or offer their solutions to pressing problems. Political participation is an essential component of the democratic system that heavily relies on high political culture and awareness of citizens.

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