Policy, Politics and Organisation


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Title Policy, Politics and Organisation
Period 01 / 2003 - unknown
Status Completed
Research number OND1292305
Data Supplier Website NOV


'Policy, Politics and Organisation' aims to research systematically the working of gender as a structuring principle of social order, drawing on the collaboration of sociology, political science, policy studies, social and political philosophy, health studies, psychology , economics, legal studies and history. The major focus is on how gender structures the major aspects of women's life conditions: work and care, health and medicine, politics and policy, and affects women's quality of life. Gendered systems of meaning structure, at different levels and in many fields, the social division of work and care between the sexes, and the status, economic worth, privileges, power resources and the modes of representation that go with it. Gendered meaning systems also, alongside biological and scientific findings, act as a source of knowledge about, and contribute to notions of illness and health, the appreciation of the body and corporality and the perception of sexuality. Moreover, gender operates as a structuring principle for the design of the political domain, and for the binding allocation of values at the level of a society. It also forms the basis of a system of symbolic meanings and normative concepts which influence other political concepts and values, like citizenship, autonomy and justice. Given the structure of women's lives, the research focusses on three sets of related questions. Questions on the gendered meanings of the division of labour between the sexes and the ensuing tensions between work and care for women. What is the relationship between care and work, how do identities of women and men shift in this respect, how is time allocated to paid and unpaid work divided between women and men, and what patterns of discrimination and segregation in the labour market evolve along gender lines, also over time? How do processes of professionalization of care work and provision of care services affect distinctions between private and public responsibilities, between state, market, families and civil society? What mutual influence can be detected in the changes in this 'welfare mix' and the gendered division of labour and care, on moral attitudes towards care and responsibility on a psychological, social and cultural level? How can concepts of 'caring rationalities' and of a feminist ethic of care be further developed, refined and applied? Do these shifts affect hierarchical dichotomies at the level of cultural and symbolic meaning, such as those between care, solidarity, and dependence on the one hand, and individuality, economic rationality and technical control on the other? How do differences in position and status between women, as ethnicity, age, religion and state of health, feed into these processes? Questions on the organizational aspects of women's health. What contribution can women's studies make to improvement in health care, including the content, provision and organization of services, and to policymaking in this area? Questions on the ways in which gender operates as a structural principle in shaping the political domain, its institutions, political debate and policy. Of central concern is also if and how gender, as a system of symbolic meanings and normative concepts, informs political values and the concepts used to analyse politics itself. How is femininity constructed as `different' to masculinity, and how is the latter continually set up as the model for the general norm for political behaviour and leadership, expertise and competence? What role is played by alleged gender-neutral normativity in the formation of legal concepts, policymaking and intra-administrative political processes? How are certain views and values marginalized in public debate and policy-formation because they have become associated with femininity? In what way do women's collective activities affect the relationship between gender and politics, in present and past and in different cultural settings? What conditions enable women's full participation in political decision-making and balanced representation of women's 'interests', taking into account diversity and differences among women? This research line has several linkages to the research line Identity, Representation, Embodiment which will be collaborately explored. They pertain to the role of social, behavourial, institutional and organizational mechanisms in establishing gender identity, the social and political activities of women in processes of social transformation and the formation of collective identities in women's collective political behaviour. Furthermore, there are questions around the formation of identities and cultural representation and the body; including its shaping through health regimes and the consequences of sexual abuse and violence, which will require further investigation.

Related organisations

Secretariat Genderstudies (UU)

Related people

Project leader Prof.dr. J.V. Outshoorn
Project leader Prof.dr. T.M. Willemsen


D42000 Political and administrative sciences
D61000 Sociology
D69000 Gender studies

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